Atlas District in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Hub, Home, Heart
— Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —
Shortly after Congress arrived in Washington in 1800, city leaders chose an old farm road to create a private toll turnpike to Bladensburg and points northeast. Its toll booth once sat at this intersection. During the War of 1812, British forces used the turnpike to reach the new capital city. Before they retreated, they had burned the Capitol, White House, and other key buildings.
In 1871 District officials made the Bladensburg Turnpike into a toll-free city street. Soon Columbia Railway Co., a horse-drawn streetcar line, opened, and for 30 years linked this spot to downtown via H Street. Then the streetcar line pushed farther east along Benning Road, spurring real estate development. A new rail line took commuters from here to Baltimore or Annapolis. With so much traffic, this hub soon anchored a busy commercial area.
In the early 1900s, H Street developers invited traveling circuses to use their vacant parcels so that audiences would see the area and consider buying here. A tradition was born:
In 1930 Sidney Hechinger opened a salvage and hardware store just east of here on Benning Road. Hechinger's soon became a Washington institution. After the 1968 riots many businesses abandoned the area. But Sidney's son, John W., Sr., showed his commitment to the city by opening the suburban style Hechinger Mall on Benning Road, anchored by his modern hardware store, in 1981.
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
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 11.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Greater H Street Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 54′ N, 76° 59.04′ W. Marker is in Atlas District, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of H Street Northeast and Maryland Avenue Northeast (U.S. 1), on the right when traveling east on H Street Northeast. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1433 H Street Northeast, 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. The City Woman (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mediterranean Imports District of Columbia Fire Department (approx. 0.2 miles away); A Quiet Place (was approx. 0.2 miles away but has been reported permanently removed. ); Culture and Commerce (approx. 0.2 miles away); Enterprising Families (approx. ¼ mile away); Untitled (approx. 0.4 miles away); A City in One Day (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Atlas District.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail
More. Search the internet for The Hub.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 16, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 30, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 523 times since then and 48 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, 11. submitted on September 30, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.