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

Strike Up the Band

Tour of Duty


—Barracks Row Heritage Trail —

Strike Up the Band Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin Vincent, July 9, 2013
1. Strike Up the Band Marker
Inscription.  If you are hearing the ringing tones of band music, one of the ensembles of the world-famous United States Marine Band may be practicing inside the Marine Barracks.

John Philip Sousa, the neighborhood’s most famous son, spent 19 years here. In 1868 Sousa’s Marine Bandsman father persuaded the 13-year- old to apprentice to the Marine Band instead of running away to join a circus band. Twelve years later Sousa was named leader of the Marine Band and was on his way to becoming the “March King,” composer of dozens of stirring marches that remain popular worldwide. During his director-ship (1880-1892), Sousa wrote Washington Post March and Semper Fidelis, among many others, and the band began the extraordinarily popular concert tours that continue to this day. The band’s renown spread even farther after it made one of the earliest phonograph recordings (1889) and helped pioneer live broadcast radio in the early 1920s. In 1931 the NBC radio network began a record-setting 29 years of broadcasting the Marine Band in “The Dream Hour.”

The Marine Band was established by an Act of Congress in 1798 and has
Strike Up the Band Marker reverse image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, October 29, 2016
2. Strike Up the Band Marker reverse
played for every president beginning with John Adams. Thomas Jefferson dubbed it “The President’s Own.” During Jefferson’s tenure, the band recruited musicians from Italy, some of whom eventually settled in the neighborhood. Italian immigrants contributed music schools, bakeries, and other businesses.

The Marine Band, still stationed at the Barracks, remains the official White House musical ensemble. In 2002 its 140-plus members performed 800 times throughout the nation.

When celebrated composer John Philip Sousa walked these streets, people called this Capitol Hill neighborhood “Navy Yard.” While the Navy Yard is no longer the area’s major employer, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps still anchor this pleasant residential community and its vibrant commercial center on Eighth Street, SE, now known as Barracks Row. The 16 signs that mark this walking trail describe temporary sojourners as well as families who have lived here for many generations. From Michael Shiner an African American laborer working at the Navy Yard, to John Dahlgren, a weapons pioneer and confidant of President Abraham Lincoln, their experiences have given the community its distinctive character. Follow this trail to the places that tell these stories and much, much more.

Tour of Duty: Barracks Row Heritage Trail, a booklet of the
Marine Barracks image. Click for full size.
By Kevin Vincent, July 9, 2013
3. Marine Barracks
Looking from the marker across the intersection of 8th and I Streets to the Marine Barracks.
trail’s highlights, is available at businesses along the way. Visit to learn about other DC neighborhoods.

List of contributors and sponsors to the Barracks Row Heritage Trail.

Caption:U.S. Marines perform during a traditional Friday evening parade, 1959.
Erected 2004 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 7.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Barracks Row Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 52.75′ N, 76° 59.71′ W. Marker is in Capitol Hill, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 8th Street, SE and I Street, S.E., on the right when traveling south on 8th Street, SE. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. (within shouting distance of this marker); William Prout: Community Builder (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Washington Navy Yard: Serving the Fleet (approx. 0.2 miles away); A Neighborhood For Everyone (approx. 0.2 miles away); Oldest Post of the Corps (approx. 0.2 miles away); Washington Navy Yard: Maker of Weapons
Entrance to Marine Barracks image. Click for full size.
By Kevin Vincent, July 9, 2013
4. Entrance to Marine Barracks
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Christ Church and Its Parishioners (approx. 0.2 miles away); John Philip Sousa (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Capitol Hill.
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicMilitary
More. Search the internet for Strike Up the Band.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 19, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 10, 2013, by Kevin Vincent of Arlington, Virginia. This page has been viewed 393 times since then and 7 times this year. Last updated on March 7, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos:   1. submitted on July 10, 2013, by Kevin Vincent of Arlington, Virginia.   2. submitted on December 2, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   3, 4. submitted on July 10, 2013, by Kevin Vincent of Arlington, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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