Spotlight: Shaw and LeDroit Park

Rowhouses in Shaw

Dubbed ‘Uptown’ by 19th Century Washingtonians who considered the historic Shaw area to be a bit of a trek from the bustle of downtown, the Shaw and LeDroit ‘hoods now contain some of the city’s most coveted addresses. Shaw’s reach today is so diverse that it is often considered to be made up of several smaller neighborhoods, including Penn Quarter, Logan Circle and the U Street Corridor. LeDroit flanks Shaw on a Northern pocket, boasting several of DC’s famed Victorian mansions a stone’s throw from Howard University.

Shaw began as a makeshift encampment for newly freed slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War, and by the turn of the 19th Century had become what historians now refer to as a “proto-Harlem.” Shaw is indeed the historical heart of DC’s African-American community – the area has close ties to Howard University, a historically black college, and has housed some of the most esteemed artists and leaders in African American history. Nearby LeDroit, originally a gated community reserved for DC’s wealthiest residents, was integrated around the turn of the Century through the efforts of grassroots political activists and protesters.

Mural in LeDroit Park

Today, Shaw and LeDroit are served by the Green Line Metro, and include several distinct areas – Penn Quarter and Chinatown are jam-packed with restaurants, theatres, stadiums, museums and bars that are safe bets for any excursion. Logan Circle offers an unbuttoned elegance, plenty of microbrew and ethnic food and blocks of sweet brick sidewalks. LeDroit’s spectacular Victorians are charming in bright candy colors with contrasting trim.

Construction of the ambitious O Street Market is currently underway, and the massive retail and residential complex will replace the now-defunct Giant foods at 7th and O Streets NW. The new market will act as a community anchor and draw upon the memory of a historical community market that stood decades ago in old Shaw. It will include 10,000 square feet of retail in addition to restaurants, market rental units and senior living space.

Intersection of 4th and T Street NW

If you are in search of a richly varied spot to call home, the Shaw and LeDroit area will never fail to present something new. Whether your tastes run toward shiny new lofts or rowhouses with sculpture molding, Shaw and LeDroit can satisfy any personal taste.