Near Northeast in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Changing Faces of H Street
Hub, Home, Heart
—Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —
Douglas Memorial served a white congregation. But beginning in the 1940s, its members moved away, and the parish dwindled. In 1958 the governing Baltimore Conference assigned a young African American pastor, Forrest C. Stith, to rebuild the congregation. By knocking on doors and reaching out to youth, Stith increased the church's membership from nearly zero to 200 in three years. On 11th Street between I and K, Holy Name Catholic Church experienced the same racial makover.
As these church histories show, well before "white flight" transformed American cities in the 1950s, the face of H Street was changing. Descendants of European immigrant families, thanks to public school education, moved into better-paying professions and newer neighborhoods. African Americans had become a majority in Greater H Street by 1950. In response the DC School Board switched the white Franklin Pierce Elementary on Maryland Avenue, and other
Trains and streetcars created the Near Northeast neighborhood around H Street. The B&O Railroad's arrival in 1835 made this a center of energetic, working-class life. Workmen living north of the Capitol staffed the Government Printing Office, ran the trains, stocked the warehouses, and built Union Station. When a streetcar arrived linking H Street to downtown, new construction quickly followed.
H Street bustled with shops and offices run by Jewish, Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Irish, and African American families. During the segregation era, which lasted into the 1950s, African Americans came to H Street for its department stores and sit-down restaurants. Most businesses welcomed all customers.
Then came the civil disturbances in the wake of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968. Decades of commercial decline followed. Just off H Street, though, the strong residential community endured. The 2005 opening of the Atlas Performing Arts Center signaled a revival, building
Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 3.2-mile tour of 18 signs offers about two hours of gentle exercise. Free keepsake guidebooks in English or Spanish are available at businesses and institutions along the way. For more on DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 14.)
Location. 38° 54.018′ N, 76° 59.5′ W. Marker is in Near Northeast, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of H Street, NE and 11th Street, NE, on the right when traveling west on H Street, NE. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1033 H Street, NE, Washington DC 20002, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Enterprising Families (approx. 0.2 miles away); At the Crossroads (approx. 0.2 miles away); Culture and Commerce (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Fires of 1968 (approx. ¼ mile away); Brickyards to Buildings (approx. ¼ A Quiet Place (approx. ¼ mile away); Get Behind the Wheel (approx. ¼ mile away); Mediterranean Imports (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Near Northeast.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail
Categories. • African Americans • Churches & Religion • Notable Places •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 7, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 314 times since then and 19 times this year. Last updated on February 11, 2014, by A. Taylor of Laurel, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on October 7, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.