The H Street (Atlas District) Washington is only 3 blocks long and is located about a mile and a half from Union Station. After the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination this area saw some of D.C.'s fiercest rioting in 1968 and its storefronts passed years being mostly boarded up. In recent years it has become a new cultural and nightlife Mecca although it is off the beaten path.
To get here, the nearest Metro stop is over a mile away, the Red line at Union Square Station. The walk is ill advised, especially in the evening. The X2 bus is a safer bet, which brings visitors from the McPherson Square, Metro Center or Gallery Place-Chinatown Metrorail stops.
Several soul food take out restaurants are here, as well as inexpensive sushi and the northern California cuisine. Gwen's Majestic is one of the sit down spots that serves up southern style cooking accompanied by live jazz music.
The Granville Moore's co-owner has duked-it-out in the kitchen with American Iron Chef Bobby Flay, helping to increase the reputation of his establishment as a worthwhile restaurant. While the food in this area does not yet come close to the extensive offer in the DuPont Circle or Adams Morgan neighborhoods options have increased dramatically in recent years.
Roughly a dozen quirky bars with their distinct themes, ambiences and music have been one of the features most attracting visitors. The clubs of the H Street (Atlas District), Washington are known for their live entertainment which ranges from go-go dancers at Rose's Dream, rock bands at the Rock and Roll Hotel (and others) to jazz. Unique performances are those of the sword swallowing bartenders at the Palace of Wonders which adorns itself in memorabilia related to its theme of side show oddities. The Red and the Black and the Phish Tea Cafy also host a variety of entertainers including singer songwriters and comedians as well as new bands.
Entertainment and culture are not limited to the clubs. Also located here are several cultural spaces. The Atlas Performing Arts Center houses several theatrical and dance performance spaces in an old art deco Atlas Movie Theater. The theater is the only community based performance center in the District of Columbia and seeks to promote theater arts and theater training and education as well as appreciation in the local community.
The smaller H Street Playhouse also serves up live theater by its resident Theater Alliance as well as other itinerant theater troupes. Local neighborhood residents get in free.
The District is located in the 20002 zip code where 56% of residents rent their homes. Approximately three fourths of residents are African of African or African American descent. The median household income is lower than the average in the District of Columbia. Several parks are located within a few miles of the Atlas District.
Sources consulted for this article include:
"H Street Life,'' by Fritz Hahn, Washington Post, Friday, September 8, 2006
"H Stands for Happening,'' By Jane Black, Washington Post, Wednesday, June 25, 2008
"Off the Beaten Path: H Street N.E. The Atlas District is home to the best bars you've never heard of,'' By