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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Le Droit Park in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Best in the Country

Worthy Ambition

 

—LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail —

 
Best in the Country Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
1. Best in the Country Marker
Inscription. Poet May Miller once remarked that unlike New York's Harlem, LeDroit Park “didn't have to have a renaissance.” In fact, before they joined the cultural movement of the 1920s and '30s, most Harlem Renaissance intellectuals spent time at Howard University and in LeDroit Park.

Miller and her father, Howard University dean and Sociologist Kelly Miller, hosted poet Paul Laurence Dunbar in 1897 when Dunbar first moved here from Dayton, Ohio. Soon after he moved to 1934 Fourth Street, at this corner. “The best Negroes in the country find their way to the capital,” Dunbar wrote, “and I have a very congenial and delightful circle of friends.” Among them were Robert and Mary Church Terrell, who purchased number 1936 Fourth Street in 1893 through a “straw,” a white person acting on their behalf.

Poet Langston Hughes lived with cousins nearby at 2213 Fourth Street in 1924. Unlike Dunbar, Hughes found Washington's black society “as unbearable and snobbish a group of people as I have ever come in contact with.” In fact his high-class cousins looked down on the series of menial jobs Hughes was forced to take. Fortunately he was able to enjoy evenings at Seventh Street's nightclubs, where he found inspiration for his innovative jazz poetry.

The rowhouses
Best in the Country Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
2. Best in the Country Marker
and apartments just north of here along V and W Streets were constructed as public housing in the 1930s and early '40s. They replaced the dilapidated structures of Howardtown, which developed during the Civil War (1861-1865) when refugees from slavery came to Washington's Union Army encampments for shelter, work, and protection.
 
Location. 38° 55.044′ N, 77° 1.062′ W. Marker is in Le Droit Park, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Elm Street Northwest and 4th Street, on the right when traveling west on Elm Street Northwest. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 407 Elm Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Christian Fleetwood and Sara Fleetwood Residence Site (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); T Street Elites (about 500 feet away); Willis Richardson Residence (about 500 feet away); A Voice from the South (about 700 feet away); Freedmen's Hospital (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Flower Garden of Washington (approx. 0.2 miles away); Elks Columbia Lodge No. 85 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (approx. 0.2 miles away).
 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
 
Best in the Country Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
3. Best in the Country Marker
Trio of Houses image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
4. Trio of Houses
Robert and Mary Terrell once lived in the middle of this trio of houses on Fourth Street. Paul Laurence Dunbar moved into the house on the left.
Close-up of photo on reverse of marker
<i>Young Man Studying</i> [Lanston Hughes] image. Click for full size.
5. Young Man Studying [Lanston Hughes]
by LeDroit Park artist Hilda Wilkinson Brown.
Close-up of image on marker
Paul Laurence Dunbar image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
6. Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar worked at the Library of Congress when he and his wife Alice Dunbar-Nelson lived on fourth Street.
Close-up of photo on marker
Alice Dunbar-Nelson image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
7. Alice Dunbar-Nelson
Close-up of photo on marker
“Duke” Ellington image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
8. “Duke” Ellington
Legendary Jazz impresario Edward K. “Duke” Ellington lived at 420 Elm St. as a child.
Close-up of photo on marker
Howardtown image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
9. Howardtown
A dilapidated remnant of Howardtown, left, was slated for replacement In 1939 with subsidized housing, The aerial photo captures the Kelly Miller Dwellings under construction near Griffith Stadlum. the newly completed V Street houses with their distinctive U shape. and the Williston Apartments.
Close-up of photo on marker
V Street houses image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
10. V Street houses
Close-up of photo on marker
Williston Apartments image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
11. Williston Apartments
Close-up of photo on marker
Dilapidated Remnant of Howardtown image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
12. Dilapidated Remnant of Howardtown
Close-up of photo on marker
1934 - 1936 - 1938 4th Street image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
13. 1934 - 1936 - 1938 4th Street
Robert and Mary Church Terrell lived at 1936 (in the middle) and Paul Laurence Dunbar lived at 1934 (on the left)
420 Elm Street image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 8, 2015
14. 420 Elm Street
One of many houses in Washington DC where “Duke” Ellington lived.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 139 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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