Rediscovering F Street

Photograph of the National Union Building in downtown

Historic F Street Walking Tour

Believe it or not, F Street, NW in downtown Washington, D.C. was once the most fashionable residential street in the city.


The Civil War Brought About Change

Until the 1860s, stately row houses were owned by rich elites whose residences lined both sides of the street.  Then, following the U.S. Civil War, the rows of townhomes were replaced by distinctive office, bank, and retail buildings, transforming the blocks of F Street between 7th and 15th Streets into a bustling commercial hub.


How F Street History Has Been Celebrated

Streets of Washington author John DeFerrari has devoted many a blog post to describing these buildings and their significance to D.C’s architectural and cultural history. A surprising number are still standing and many are landmarked. Join John for a stroll along one of the most important thoroughfares in the city and relive the glory days of downtown.


F Street Walking Tour Highlights

  • Garfinkel’s department store building, bastion of high-end elegance
  • site of the 3,000-seat Fox Theater, a luxury movie palace
  • Baltimore Sun building, once called the city’s oldest “skyscraper”
  • Woodward and Lothrop building, where downtown retail lives on
  • National Union Building, beautifully restored in 2001
  • Equitable Building, from progressive banking to dance club


The walk will conclude at the Downtown Holiday Market, an outdoor shopping village that appears along F Street every year between mid-November and December 23.


John DeFerrari is a native Washingtonian with a passion for local history.  He is the reviews editor for Washington History magazine and author of: Lost Washington, D.C.Capital Eats: Historic Restaurants of Washington, D.C.; and Capital Streetcars: Early Mass Transit in Washington, D.C.  John serves on the board of the D.C. Preservation League and the Friends of Peirce Mill.


Be sure to also join us for the companion Virtual Experience, "The Glory Days of F Street," on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

Guides that may lead this tour: 

CAROLYN attributes her devotion to walking tours to perambulations through her new hometown when she arrived to earn an M.F.A. in Acting from The Catholic University of America. She is the founder of Washington Walks.

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Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.

Approximately 2 hours
Reservations REQUIRED and limited to twelve (12) participants.
  • Complimentary tickets available to members at the Patron level. Join here.
  • $30 discounted tickets available to members at the Friend level beginning on November 20th. Join here.
  • $50 tickets will be available to the general public beginning on November 27th. Subject to availability.

Don't miss your chance to take this one-time-only walk. Become a member today!

Meet at the northeast corner of F and 15th Streets, NW, by the Rhodes Tavern plaques.
Questions? Answers here.

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