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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Atlas District in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Culture and Commerce

Hub, Home, Heart

 

— Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —

 
Culture and Commerce Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
1. Culture and Commerce Marker
Inscription.  When the Atlas Performing Arts Center opened in 2005, it gave hope to an area still recovering from the destruction following the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. But when K-B's Atlas movie house opened here in 1938 as one of DC's first air-conditioned theaters, this was a bustling commercial strip.

The Atlas originally admitted whites only. African American movie-goers traveled elsewhere until 1943, when the Plymouth Theater opened in an old auto showroom at 1365 H Street. Then in 1953 the Supreme Court declared segregation in DC's public accommodations illegal.

But H Street's shops, run by families of many nationalities, had always served all: their working-class neighbors as well as commuters. Most owners, like Meyer Greenbaum of Greenbaum's Bakery, 1361 H Street, lived above or behind the stores and worked long hours. Carroll Barber Shop opened next to Greenbaum's in 1931 as one of H Street's first African American businesses. A few years later Meyer "Mike" Kanter opened I.C. Furniture, selling used and inexpensive goods. (Kanter's son Ted switched to high-end furniture, opening
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
2. Back of Marker
Theodore's in upper Georgetown.)

Beginning in 1951 Jack Napier ran Ultra-Modern Barbership at 1338 for nearly 50 years. Napier is remembered for hiring and training local young men. In the mid-1970s, Marcus Griffith made and sold his patented hair care products at Hairlox, 1315 H Street.

Despite entrepreneurs' post-riots efforts, progress was slow. Then in 2002, in cooperation with H Street Community Development Corporation and the Linden Neighborhood Association, the nonprofit Atlas Performing Arts Center began its large-scale renovations and H Street began its latest revival.

Discover More...
Between 1981 and 2009, the northeast corner of 13th and H Streets hosted the Robert L. Christian Library. Thanks to lobbying by community members the library first opened in 1972 at 1007 H and honored the former teacher who founded the Northeast Neighborhood House. In addition to promoting literacy and academic achievement, Northeast Neighborhood House offered job training for young people, recreation, tutoring, mentorship, and day care for working parents.
 
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 10.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceNotable Places
Culture and Commerce Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
3. Culture and Commerce Marker
. In addition, it is included in the Greater H Street Heritage Trail series list.
 
Location. 38° 54.019′ N, 76° 59.276′ W. Marker is in the Atlas District in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is at the intersection of H Street Northeast and 13th Street Northeast, on the right when traveling west on H Street Northeast. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 783 13th St NE, Washington DC 20002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Enterprising Families (within shouting distance of this marker); District of Columbia Fire Department (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mediterranean Imports (about 600 feet away); The Changing Faces of H Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Hub (approx. 0.2 miles away); Life on H Street (approx. ¼ mile away); The City Woman (approx. ¼ mile away); Brickyards to Buildings (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Atlas District.
 
Former site of the Robert L. Christian Library image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
4. Former site of the Robert L. Christian Library
Atlas Performing Arts Center image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
5. Atlas Performing Arts Center
H Street Today image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
6. H Street Today
Notice the rebuilt Atlas Theater.
Burned out Atlas Theater image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
7. Burned out Atlas Theater
The burned-out Atlas Theater, left, and the 1300 block of H awaited redevelopment in 1988.
Restaurants and Damage image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
8. Restaurants and Damage
Top: Greek immigrant Anest George Koutras's Ohio Restaurant served soul food at 15th and H Sts., in the 1940s.

Bottom: Graffiti covers the Atlas box offices, 2003.
Right Side Photos image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
9. Right Side Photos
Top: In 2005 workers pause while pouring concrete for the Lang Theater one of four in the new performing arts center.

Center left: Employees Richard Davis and Bill King pose in front of Mike Kanter's I.C. Furniture, 1353 H St.

Lower Right: Baker's daughter Sally Greenbaum in front of the Plymouth dealership (later Plymouth Theater, and then, starting in 2002, H Street Playhouse).

Lower Left: Marcus Griffith in his plant at 1313 H St. where Hairlox beauty products were made in 1987.
Discover More sidebar image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
10. Discover More sidebar
Atlas Theater during World War II image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
11. Atlas Theater during World War II
Young Atlas Theater movie fans rally to support the armed forces in World War II.
Plaque at The Atlas Performing Arts Center image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 19, 2018
12. Plaque at The Atlas Performing Arts Center
The Atlas
Performing Arts Center

has been placed on the
National Register
of Historic Places

by the United States
Department of the Interior
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 7, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 380 times since then and 34 times this year. Last updated on July 7, 2020, by Bruce Guthrie of Silver Spring, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on October 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   12. submitted on January 19, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
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Sep. 25, 2020