Changing Times

The 1400 block of W Street NW, home of the Capital Manor Apartments, has prospered, suffered, then prospered again, along with the rest of the U Street corridor.

1858: Freed Catholic slaves launch St. Augustine Parish at 15th and V streets NW. It becomes an anchor for a black neighborhood and business district.

1862: Washington's 14th Street streetcar line opens, spurring the neighborhood's growth.

1881: Abolitionist and publisher Mary Ann Shadd Carey moves into a Victorian rowhouses at 1421 W St. while studying law at Howard University.

1905-1908: Developer Harry Wardman builds six grand apartment buildings (the Mississippi, the Natchez, the Seminole, the Nantucket, the Juanita and the Susquehanna) on the south side of W Street. Three at 1436, 1440 and 1444 later become Capital Manor Apartments.

1900-1948: U Street emerges as a vibrant corridor of African American business and cultural life. Duke Ellington, Nat"King" Cole and others perform at famous nightclubs along the corridor, which becomes known as the Black Broadway.

1950s and 1960s: Affluent and middle-class residents of W Street move out to newly desegregated neighborhoods; U Street businesses suffer as shopping districts formerly closed to blacks are opened up. Victorian rowhouses are converted to apartments or rooming houses, and large apartment buildings fill with poorer tenants.

1968: Riots following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King sweep up and down 14th Street and U Street; fires and looting destroy dozens of businesses, and many residents and business owners flee.

1973: Capital Manor becomes a low-income apartment complex subsidized through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

1979-1980: The 1400 block of W Street becomes the city's largest open-air drug market when heroin dealers are pushed out of 14th and T. The soup kitchen Martha's Table opens around the corner to serve poor and homeless families.

1986: An 11-year-old boy is arrested, along with two adults, at 1 a.m. for selling heroin in the 1400 block of W Street. Police close off the street and organize festivals for children in an attempt to keep dealers out.

1987-1991: Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center opens at 14th and U, followed by the U Street Metro station four years later. Latino immigrants move into the apartment buildings on W Street. Higher-earning white professionals begin buying the old Victorians across the street.

1992-2000: As the city's crack cocaine and murder epidemics ebb, all but a few of W Street's rowhouses are renovated. Trendy boutiques and eateries open on U Street. Developers assemble land for larger projects.

2001: Roosevelt Hotel for Seniors is converted to luxury rentals. The first of several high-end loft condo projects are launched. Capital Manor is put up for sale.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company