Capitol Hill in Washington DC
Capitol Hill is the largest historic residential neighborhood in Washington D.C., stretching easterly in front of the United States Capitol along wide avenues. 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. The location of the Capitol was chosen by Pierre L’Enfant in his design for the District of Columbia.
L’Enfant referred to the hill chosen as the site of the future Congress House as “Jenkins Hill” or “Jenkins Heights”. However, the tract of land had for many years belonged to the Carroll family and was noted in their records of ownership as “New Troy”.
While it was rumored that a man named Jenkins had once pastured some livestock at the site of the Capitol (and thus his name was associated with the site), artist John Trumbull, who would paint several murals inside the Capitol’s rotunda, reported in 1791 that the site was covered with a thick wood, making it an unlikely place for livestock to graze.
The street pattern in Capitol Hill has remained faithful to the original 1791 L’Enfant Plan for the Federal City, a plan that called for grand diagonals superimposed over a standard grid pattern.
East Capitol Street, a monumental avenue running east from the Capitol to the banks of the Anacostia River, still provides a major focus for the area and serves as the division between the northeast and southeast sectors of the city.
The eastern edge of the historic district terminates at the East Capitol Street Carbarn, now an adaptive use project featuring apartments, but which represents the end of the trolley tracks and the end of much of the nineteenth century development.
In 1976, the Capitol Hill Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the largest historic districts in the United States.
The boundaries of the historic district are irregular, extending southward from F Street NE, as far east as 14th Street, as far west as South Capitol Street, and with a southern limit marked chiefly by Virginia Avenue but including some territory as far south as M Street SE. It includes buildings from the Federal period (1800 to 1820) through 1919, but most of the buildings are late Victorian.
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.
Washington DC has always been a lovely place to live and visit; many have visited this wonderful city.