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

At the Crossroads

Hub, Home, Heart

 

—Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —

 
At the Crossroads Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
1. At the Crossroads Marker
Inscription. One year before Congress and the President arrived in their new capital city in 1800, Washington's Navy Yard opened at the foot of Eighth Street, two miles south of this sign. The yard soon became the city's biggest employer. In 1908 streetcars began connecting H Street to the Navy Yard via Eighth Street, allowing workers to commute. As the transfer point between the Eighth Street line and the H Street line to downtown, this busy spot attracted the Home Savings Bank's Northeast Branch and the Northeast Savings Bank, founded by H Street merchants, across Eighth Street from each other.

Before Prohibition closed DC's many saloons in 1917, 727 H Street housed the German-owned Beuchert Tavern. Louis Kavakos bought the place in 1929 and ran it as a lunch counter/confectionery. After Prohibition ended four years later, Kavakos and his sons William, George, and John replaced the luncheonette with Club Kavakos, a bar and grill with live music, dancing, vaudeville, and strippers. Like many DC night spots, the club thrived during World War II. After the war, patrons enjoyed evenings hosted by WMAL radio DJ Willis Conover. Jazz greats Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Dizzy Gillespie all recorded live albums here.

In 1914 Ezras Israel Orthodox congregation moved from its space above a grocery on H Street into the former Centennial
Streetcars at the Intersection image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
2. Streetcars at the Intersection
Streetcar route map to Metro Station, 1909, includes the Eighth and H crossroads. Above, a 1949 view of this spot looking east with the former Northeast Savings Bank at left.
Baptist Church at Eighth and I Streets, one block north. Forty-five years later it closed as most of H Street's Jewish population moved north, and eventually re-opened in Rockville, Maryland.

(Back):
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 evocatively on H Street's past. Hub, Home, Heart is a bridge to carry you from that past to the present.

Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage
Club Kavakos image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
3. Club Kavakos
Top: A 1955 ad for Dizzy Gillespie at Club Kavakos. Below, owner William Kavakos, left, hosts bandleaders Tex Beneke, center, and Tony Pastor in the club, 1940s.

Bottom: The Club Kavakos building on the southwest corner of Eighth and H, left, was gutted during the 1968 riots and fell into ruin as seen in this 1990 photo. It was demolished in 1999.
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 15.)
 
Location. 38° 54.019′ N, 76° 59.706′ W. Marker is in Near Northeast, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of H Street, NE and 8th Street, NE, on the right when traveling west on H Street, NE. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 722 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. The Fires of 1968 (within shouting distance of this marker); Get Behind the Wheel (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sanctuaries (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Changing Faces of H Street (approx. 0.2 miles away); Brickyards to Buildings (approx. ¼ mile away); Education for All (approx. 0.3 miles away); Leonard M. Elstad (approx. 0.3 miles away); Enterprising Families (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Near Northeast.
 
Related markers.
Ezras Israel Orthodox image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
4. Ezras Israel Orthodox
Zelda Feldman, left, and classmates after their confirmation at Ezras Israel, Eighth and I Sts., 1947.
Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail
 
Also see . . .  Live! From Club Kavakos. Page with pictures and recollections of Club Kavakos. (Submitted on October 7, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. Churches, Etc.EntertainmentIndustry & CommerceNotable Places
 
A 1937 Chanukah party at Ezras Israel image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
5. A 1937 Chanukah party at Ezras Israel
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
6. Back of Marker
Swinging to the sax at Club Kavakos, 1950 image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
7. Swinging to the sax at Club Kavakos, 1950
Map of the H Street Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
8. Map of the H Street Heritage Trail
At the Crossroads Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
9. At the Crossroads Marker
Former Northeast Branch Bank and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
10. Former Northeast Branch Bank and Marker
The building still functions as a bank.
Site of Northeast Savings Bank image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
11. Site of Northeast Savings Bank
The site is also currently occupied by a bank.
Site of Club Kavakos Today image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
12. Site of Club Kavakos Today
 
 
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 357 times since then and 42 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, 12. submitted on October 7, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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