U Street Corridor: The Difference a Decade Makes

by Amanda Abrams

Please see our 2017 updated profile on U Street here:

U Street Corridor:
Weekday Strollers, Weekend Warriors

U Street Corridor: The Difference a Decade Makes: Figure 1
The bar at Lost Society in the U Street Corridor

When the word "corridor" is used to identify a DC neighborhood these days, it usually signifies that it is a new area by city standards.

Such is the case with the U Street Corridor, a stretch of the storied avenue in DC's northwest quadrant that received its moniker right around the time that people were worrying about Y2K. Like the H Street Corridor, the neighborhood's christening coincided with a blueprint for a slew of residential projects and a retail makeover that would change the face of the area.

Despite the transformation that has already occurred, the area remains one in transition. Several projects are planned -- both on U Street itself, as well as on the surrounding blocks -- that could have yet another major impact on the neighborhood's reputation.

U Street Corridor: The Difference a Decade Makes: Figure 2
U Street between 12th and 13th. Click to enlarge.

Up, Down and Now Back Up

The boundaries of the U Street Corridor are a frequent topic of debate, as the area encroaches on Columbia Heights, Logan Circle, Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle, depending on the direction in which you go. For the purpose of this profile, the neighborhood runs along U Street between 17th and 9th Streets, with a northern border of W Street and a southern boundary of T Street.

At the end of the 19th century, U Street was becoming a main shopping district for DC's black population, and it eventually evolved into a center for arts and culture that rivaled the scene at the time in Harlem. After the 1968 riots, however, it declined tremendously, and crime, drugs and prostitution plagued the area for much of the late 20th century.

But thanks to a few courageous businesses that stuck it out, most notably Ben’s Chili Bowl, which still serves half-smokes at its original location on U Street, the area began to re-define itself in the late 1990s. Over the last decade, the street’s nightlife options have steadily increased, and these days it’s one of the city’s most popular going-out destinations. Music lovers of all types can be seen at the 9:30 Club, the Velvet Lounge, Bohemian Caverns or U Street Music Hall; foodies have choices ranging from the Ethiopian-themed Dukem to Lost Society, a recently-opened steakhouse; and shoppers have options including furniture store Good Wood and the vintage clothing boutique Dr. K Vintage.

U Street Corridor: The Difference a Decade Makes: Figure 3
Harrison Square

The Residential Boom and Its Effect

Comparisons can be made between Columbia Heights and the U Street Corridor in terms of population shift over the last two decades. Twenty years ago, both neighborhoods were largely Latino and black, but now, like its neighbor to the north, the U Street Corridor is a popular settling ground for a diverse mix of young professionals.

"Around 2000, people who were priced out of Dupont and Logan started looking for more affordable options close by," James Braeu, a real estate agent and long-time neighborhood resident, said. "With the convenience of the U Street Metro and the development that occurred between 2000 and 2005, the neighborhood quickly became a popular place to be."

There are a few apartment and condo buildings on U Street itself, but most of the residential options lie off the main drag. Condo projects built over the past several years like Moderno and The Floridian sit to the south and east, respectively, and Harrison Square, one of the first (new construction) residential developments in the area is located just to the north. T Street, to the south, is lined with Victorian row houses that sell for $650,000 on up; there are other row houses on V, 13th, and 11th Streets that are slightly cheaper.

U Street Corridor: The Difference a Decade Makes: Figure 4
Row houses on V Street

According to Long & Foster's Jen Angotti, one-bedroom condos fetch between $300,000 and $370,000, and two-bedrooms cost anywhere from $400,000 up to $800,000, depending on location, size, and amenities. That’s not particularly cheap, but Angotti -- who bought her Vermont Avenue condo several years ago and has already seen it rise in value -- says that the variety of things to do and the fact that the neighborhood has its own Metro station (U Street on the Green and Yellow Lines) are big selling factors for home buyers.

That’s not just real estate spin. Just about all of the residents UrbanTurf spoke with gushed about the abundance of great establishments in the neighborhood and ease of getting around.

“You get spoiled,” said Greg Carter, a 42-year old chief technology officer who’s lived in a V Street condo with his wife for five years. Carter said that when he and his wife go out these days, a six-block trek is a pretty serious commitment, since there is so much within one to four blocks.

U Street Corridor: The Difference a Decade Makes: Figure 5
The exterior of Marvin and Blackbyrd Warehouse

Nine Stories

The intersection of 14th and U Street is a symbol of the area's transformation, where restaurants and bars like Marvin, Gibson, and Blackbyrd Warehouse have become top destinations for the city's night crawlers. But enterprising entrepreneurs have also moved east, where rents are cheaper. The area close to 9th Street is now studded with bars like Dodge City, Dickson, a wine bar that opened last summer, and American Ice Company, a barbeque joint near 9th and V Street.

But the face of the neighborhood could change more in the coming years. Local developer JBG Companies has plans for a nine-story project on the 1300 block of U Street that would include a LEED-Silver certified 250-room luxury hotel (plans were put on hold for several years but seem to be back on) and a mixed-use development at the southwest corner of 14th and U Street with 267 apartment units and retail space, which is set to break ground later this year. JBG also owns properties along Florida Avenue north of U Street that it reportedly plans to turn into residences, and the firm recently purchased three vacant parcels from WMATA that lie just east of 9th Street.

Meanwhile, several scattered residential projects by other developers are in the works, including a nine-story, 96-unit apartment building at 15th and V from Jair Lynch, and two smaller condo buildings farther east along V Street.

U Street Corridor: The Difference a Decade Makes: Figure 6
Rendering of planned JBG development at 14th and U Street

Some Things Don't Change

With all the change on the horizon, U Street maintains somewhat of a mom-and-pop retail atmosphere and keeps a pretty low profile—literally. Only a few buildings rise higher than three stories, and most of the business owners have renovated existing row houses or storefronts rather than building from scratch. So tall buildings that stretch almost an entire block will mark a departure from the current landscape.

Another issue in the neighborhood that has improved, but still exists, is crime. While it is no longer an aspect that defines the area, some residents that UrbanTurf spoke with said that they have been victims of burglaries and assaults. Greg Carter, the technology officer, said his condo had been broken into twice, once while he and his wife were asleep. And Sammy A., who lives in a row house on 11th Street south of U Street, was punched and almost robbed while walking home one night, and said that there have been over a dozen similar incidents on his block recently.

But others shrugged off safety issues as just a part of city life, and a few pointed out that the worst-sounding crimes -- like drive-by shootings -- are mostly gang-related incidents.

The Bottom Line

The U Street Corridor boasts more than its fair share of interesting places to hang out, and appeals to a mix of DC residents in a way that few of the city's other neighborhoods do. The projects slated over the next couple of years will bring changes to the area, and many may be positive, but it would be a shame if they brought down the area’s dynamism.

Amanda Abrams is a Washington, DC-based journalist who has written feature stories for The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Washington City Paper.

  • Zip Code: 20009, 20001
  • Schools: Garrison Elementary School, Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson, Cardozo High School
  • U Street Corridor real estate data from Redfin
  • U Street Corridor rental data from Craigslist

Real Estate Agents Serving U Street Corridor

The following real estate agents are active in U Street Corridor. Call or email them to get in touch.

Jen Angotti


Phone: 202.285.4238
Website: View website
Listings: View listings

See other articles related to: u street corridor, hoods, dclofts

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/u_street_corridor_the_difference_a_decade_makes/4085


  1. Nikki Smith said at 3:26 pm on Friday September 2, 2011:
    Do you guys have any "before" photos of U Street?
  1. Sam said at 3:37 pm on Friday September 2, 2011:
    Very accurate profile of the neighborhood. I know crime has to be addressed, but I have lived on 11th and u for four years and have always felt safe. Of course, I have heard of people being mugged but that happens everywhere in this city.
  1. C said at 10:54 pm on Friday October 7, 2011:
    Yeah, and condos in the 300's are few and far between!
  1. Claire Marie said at 6:26 pm on Friday September 2, 2011:
    DCist posted some amazing old U St. photos several months ago.
  1. SWDC said at 6:29 pm on Friday September 2, 2011:
    Beautiful photos and love the low rise neighborhood (renovated and new single family homes) We already have a glut of unsold condos where some are being turned into rentals and homeless shelters.
  1. Steve said at 8:02 pm on Friday September 2, 2011:
    Row homes on T Street for $650,000 on up? Probably more accurate to add $100,000 to that.
  1. Mark Wellborn said at 3:43 pm on Friday September 2, 2011:
    Hey Nikki, We looked around but couldn't find any older shots of locations that we could compare to the new photos that we took. We will gladly add some in if anyone has any they want to send our way. Just email them to editor2011@urbanturf.com. Mark Wellborn Editor
  1. Ashley said at 6:43 pm on Friday May 25, 2012:
    I have one quibble… while the H street corridor may be considered new, U street definitely is not. U St. has a very long and interesting history that can and should be explored by all DC residents and enthusiasts.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »