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

The Place to Shop

Midcity at the Crossroads


—Shaw Heritage Trail —

The Place to Shop Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, January 10, 2019
1. The Place to Shop Marker
Inscription.  When Northern Liberty Market opened on Mount Vernon Square in 1846, small businesses soon followed. By 1900 they catered to everyday needs and formed a bargain district in comparison to downtown's fancy department stores.

Many stores were owned by immigrant families who lived upstairs. It was not unusual to find side-by-side an Irish funeral home, a Chinese restaurant, a German hardware store, a Jewish delicatessen, and an Irish saloon. In the 1920s, Henrietta Zaltrow's father ran a small grocery next to a Chinese laundry. "My father used to borrow money from them all the time," she recalled. Shopkeepers frequently extended credit and more to their clientele.

The commercial section here and closer to F Street attracted so many Jewish business people that by 1900 three synagogues — Washington Hebrew, Adas Israel, and Ohev Sholom — were located just south of Mount Vernon Square.

German immigrants Henry and Charlotte Boegeholz opened their saloon and restaurant at 1139 Seventh (on the next block to your right) around 1874. By 1900 Census figures counted five adults, six children, and a servant,
The Place to Shop Marker - other side image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, January 10, 2019
2. The Place to Shop Marker - other side
all living in the two upper floors. In 1911 K.C. Braun retired as head butler of the German Embassy and bought the business.

The descendants of hardware store founder Henry Ruppert have operated businesses continuously on this block of Seventh Street since 1885. The hardware store closed in 1987, a casualty of Metro construction and changes in hardware retailing.

Most of these blocks were devastated in the riots of 1968. They remained a sad reminder for nearly a decade until nearby churches collaborated with the federal government to build the apartments you see today.

(Other side:)

This neighborhood has been a place between places, "where races and classes bumped and mingled as they got a foothold in the city. It has attracted the powerful seeking city conven-iences as well as immigrants and migrants just starting out. By 1900 the Shaw neighborhood lay just north of the downtown federal offices and white businesses, and south of the African American-dominated U Street commercial corridor and Howard University.

Longstanding local businesses took root here, and leaders flourished: Carter G. Woodson, Langston Hughes, John Wesley Powell, B.F. Saul, and A. Philip Randolph. The nation's finest "colored" schools were here too. By the 1930s the area was known as Midcity or Shaw (for Shaw Junior High School).

Over time the shops

The Place to Shop Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, January 10, 2019
3. The Place to Shop Marker
of Seventh and Ninth streets became a bargain-rate alternative to downtown's fancy department stores. There were juke joints, Irish saloons, storefront evangelists, delicatessans, and dozens of schools and houses of worship. As the city expanded, Shaw's older housing became more affordable but crowded. In 1966 planners worked with local church leaders to create the Shaw School Urban Renewal District and improve conditions. Then in 1968, destructive riots followed the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Years later the community has succeeded in creating the mix of new and old that you'll experience along Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trail.

Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trail, a booklet capturing highlights of the 17 trail markers, is available in English and Spanish at local businesses along the way. To learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit

Erected 2006 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 17.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Shaw Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 54.248′ N, 77° 1.305′ W. Marker is in Mount Vernon Square, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of L Street Northwest and 7th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling east on L Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1035 7th Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Roots of Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral (a few steps from this marker); Remembering "the Village" (within shouting distance of this marker); Words and Deeds (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Central Public Library (about 600 feet away); Reaching for Equality (about 600 feet away); For the Working People (about 700 feet away); “Sweet Daddy” Grace (about 700 feet away); To Market, To Market (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mount Vernon Square.
Categories. Industry & Commerce

More. Search the internet for The Place to Shop.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 23, 2019. This page originally submitted on January 10, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 60 times since then. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 10, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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