Columbia Heights has reflected the ups and downs of American urban history since its original landowners erected the first buildings over a century ago. Its 14th Street was a popular destination during the streetcar era, losing its cache during the heyday of the automobile, and regaining it thanks to the advent of Metrorail, “big box” retail, and a slew of appealing dining venues. Yet the transition between these periods was anything but simple or seamless. On April 4, 1968, riots following the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sparked extensive looting and burning of commercial property. For decades afterwards, boarded-up businesses and empty lots marred the formerly vibrant community. Nearly 40 years passed before the Columbia Heights Metrorail station opened, spurring construction of new apartment buildings, restoration of local jewels like the Tivoli Theater, and development of the massive DC USA shopping complex. The walk will trace how the Columbia Heights of old continues to inform the neighborhood’s current identity.
Led by Brian