The Washington Post

H Street: Before this weekend’s festival, a look back

This weekend’s H Street Festival takes place in a neighborhood largely transformed from the one just five years ago. The changes on H Street include improved roads and the addition of street car tracks. (Photo by Amanda Voisard/The Washington Post).

The festival will also serve as the unveiling for the new H Street Heritage Trail, which will dot the landscape with markers for such historically significant events as the Beatles’ first U.S. show, which took place in 1964 at the Washington Coliseum, not far from Union Station.

Before Saturday’s festivities, we thought we’d take our own look back at some the landmark moments in the neighborhood, as seen in Washington Post photography.

(1968 photo by Matthew Lewis/The Washington Post)

Those of us who ventured to the thoroughfare in 2005 might remember the empty storefronts, the desolate stretches, and the very first rumblings from would-be H Street impresario Joe Englert. It was in August of that year that he opened the neighborhood watering hole the Argonaut, and pledged to our own Fritz Hahn that there would be more — a lot more.

“These would include the Pug, a boxing-themed sports bar,” Hahn wrote then, “the Red and Black, a rock club Englert describes as ’like DC9, but here’; the Rock N Roll Hotel, with live music and ’private rooms’ for parties; the Bee Hive, a Mexican restaurant; the Olympic, a sports bar with pool tables; Dr. Granville Moore's Brickyard, a more traditional tavern with a variety of European beers; and the Showbar, where Englert plans to showcase burlesque dancers, sword-swallowers and other nontraditional live entertainment.”

 While we’re waiting (indefinitely) on the Bee Hive and the Olympic, H Street has bloomed in a little more than five years, to include music venues and fine restaurants, a bustling performance art space with its own annual festival. And, eventually, hopefully, a streetcar.

The streetcars, above, were delivered to the District in 2009, are stowed at Metro’s Greenbelt Yard. (Photo courtesy of the District Department of Transportation)

MARCH 2012: H Streeters encounter a strange road block one winter’s day and learn that President Obama and Michelle Obama are paying a visit to newcomer Boundary Road. The commander in chief dined on the pierogies. It’s the first H Street visit for the president, but a year earlier, Michelle Obama dined at Sticky Rice. (Photo by Matt McClain for The Washington Post)

Lavanya Ramanathan is a features reporter for Style.


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