Adams Morgan Heritage Trail
Address: 2020 19th St NW Washington, DC 20009, Washington, DC 20009
Latitude/Longitude: 38.917291, -77.044352
Web site: click here
Adams Morgan is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in D.C.. The heritage of diversity in Adams Morgan began when freed slaves moved north and populated major urban areas. African Americans once populated the northeast section of Adams Morgan, where Meridian Hill Park currently lies, but were kicked out by Mary Foote Henderson when she bought the real estate in the area. Latino populations began to emigrate in the 1950’s, showing an influx of Mexican, Salvadorian, and Guatemalan residents to the area. The neighborhood is a microcosm of the ethnic diversity of the district, but its history also mirrors difficulties in race relations that persist in the U.S. as a whole.
The name “Adams Morgan” tells the neighborhood was integrated. After the 1954 court case that ordered D.C. schools to desegregate, Thomas P Morgan and John Quincy Adams Elementary Schools began to have mixed classrooms, and when the neighborhood committee oversaw the coalescence of three disparate neighborhoods, they choose the schools’ names as the name of the new, unified neighborhood of Adams Morgan.
Today one can experience the history of Adams Morgan by walking along the neighborhood’s heritage trail, which begins at the southwest corner of Meridian Hill park (16th street and Florida Ave), winds its way through the beautiful historic rowhouses on Kalorama Road, and alongside the shops and restaurants on 18th street, the commercial center of Adams Morgan. The trail is lined with eighteen signs explaining the unique history of the neighborhood, including the wealthy families that helped shaped it, as well as moments of tragedy such as the ’68 race riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the collapse of the ceiling of the Knickerbocker Theater in 1922. Follow the Heritage Trail map.
Buildings that stand out along the tour include the Harris Teeter at the corner of 17th and Kalorama, which opened as a skating rink called The National Arena in 1948. The space was converted into a bowling alley, and finally the grocery store that currently occupies the space. There are also a number of elegant houses constructed by Goerge Oakley Totten along 16th street that have since been converted into embassies and buildings that serve other uses. On the same street are also National Baptist Memorial Church, the Peace King Center of the Unification Church, and All Souls Church, all known for their engagement with the religious life of the city.
As the economic landscape of D.C. continues to change, one hopes that Adams Morgan can experience the benefits of growth and expansion without losing the valuable ethnic heritage that has characterized the neighborhood. Guests to the area are encouraged to walk the heritage trail and become acquainted with the district’s rich regional history.
From the Author: Adams Morgan is a great neighborhood to explore. Because of the area's cultural diversity, there is no shortage of unique restaurants and lounges to visit. My favorite lounge is called Columbia Station and features live jazz nightly. Also, check out the Ethiopian food at Meskerem or Sawash.
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