Capitol Hill Neighborhood Overview
Capitol Hill, aside from being a metonym for the United States Congress, is the largest historic residential neighborhood in Washington D.C., stretching easterly in front of the United States Capitol along wide avenues. It is one of the oldest residential communities in Washington, and, with roughly 35,000 people in just under 2 square miles, it is also one of the most densely populated.
As a geographic feature, Capitol Hill rises near the center of the District of Columbia and extends eastward.Pierre L’Enfant, as he began to develop his plan for the new Federal City in 1791, chose to locate the “Congress House” on the crest of the hill, facing the city, a site that L’Enfant characterized as a “pedestal waiting for a monument”.
The Capitol Hill neighborhood today straddles two quadrants of the city, Southeast and Northeast, and a large portion is now designated as the Capitol Hill historic district. The name Capitol Hill is often used to refer to both the historic district and to the larger neighborhood around it. To the east of Capitol Hill lies theAnacostia River, to the north is the H Street corridor, to the south are the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and the Washington Navy Yard, and to the west are the National Mall and the city’s central business district.
Capitol Hill’s landmarks include not only the United States Capitol, but also the Senate and House office buildings, the Supreme Court building, the Library of Congress, the Marine Barracks, the Washington Navy Yard, and Congressional Cemetery.
It is, however, largely a residential neighborhood composed predominantly of rowhouses of different stylistic varieties and periods. Side by side exist early 19th century manor houses, Federal townhouses, small frame dwellings, ornate Italianate bracketed houses, and the late 19th century press brick rowhouses with their often whimsical decorative elements combining Richardsonian Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Eastlakianmotifs.
The main non-residential corridor of Capitol Hill is Pennsylvania Avenue, a lively commercial street with shops, restaurants and bars. Eastern Market is an 1873 public market on 7th Street SE, where vendors sell fresh meat and produce in indoor stalls and at outdoor farmers’ stands. It is also the site of an outdoor flea market every weekend. After a major fire gutted the main market building on April 30, 2007, it underwent restoration and reopened on June 26, 2009.
Barracks Row (8th Street SE), so called because of its proximity to the U.S. Marine Barracks, is one of the city’s oldest commercial corridors. It dates to the late 18th century and has recently been revitalized.
A new addition to Capitol Hill is the Community Center aptly named Hill Center. Hill Center is housed in the restored Old Naval Hospital at the corner of 9th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The rehabilitation of the Old Naval Hospital combines the restoration of a historically significant landmark with the cutting edge technologies of modern “green” architecture. Hill Center is a vibrant new home for cultural, educational, and civic life on Capitol Hill.
Recent estimates in Capitol Hill newspapers suggest as many as a third of all Members of Congress live on Capitol Hill while in Washington.
Famous people who were born in the Capitol Hill neighborhood include John Philip Sousa (whose birthplace, on G St., near Christ Church is still standing) and J. Edgar Hoover. Frederick Douglass’s former house can be found in the 300 block of A Street Northeast. In the 1970s, the Douglass house was used as an African Art Museum by Warren M. Robbins.
Capitol Hill has one local community newspaper, the Hill Rag, which has been publishing continuously since 1976.
(courtesy of Wikipedia)
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