U Street Project
Kelsey & Associates was chosen by the Washington Historical Society and the Cultural Tourism DC CTDC) to serve as the project coordinator for Washington DC's first historic trail, a $100,000 project developed to highlight the Greater U Street neighborhood. Working to establish what would become city-wide design guidelines by CTDC, Kelsey & Associates transformed a temporary exhibit of this renowned neighborhood into a permanent self guided walking tour featuring 14 thematic signs guiding visitors and residents alike throughout the community. A guidebook was also produced as part of the project.
This first ever attempt at such a complex project, involving myriad city offices, DPW, NPS, and Federal Agencies, was accomplished between 1999 and 2001. This project's success has led to a recently inaugurated downtown Washington trail and a system of trails planned in sixteen neighborhoods throughout the city that will follow the U Street Trail design guidelines and recommendations. Cultural Tourism DC, in collaboration with The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., inaugurated its second neighborhood trail, City within a City, a 14-stop walking route that tells the story of the Shaw/U Street neighborhood.
For half a century, during the years of segregation, U Street was the nation's Black Broadway, and the heart of African American business and culture in Washington, D.C. Located near Howard University, the U Street neighborhood was home to Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington. Its theaters and clubs hosted some of the great names in American jazz -Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Sarah Vaughn, and Jelly Roll Morton, to name a few.
African American leaders in science, law, education, and the arts also walked these streets - people such as Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Charles Drew, Langston Hughes, and the opera star Madam Evanti.
Today, you can see many of the sites that were familiar to these show business greats-the restored Lincoln Theatre, the True Reformer Building, the 12th Street YMCA, the Whitelaw Hotel, and the revived Bohemian Caverns, where the Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded the album In Crowd.
A free guidebook to the trail is available from businesses along U Street and from the museum of the African American Civil War Memorial and the reception desk at the True Reformer Building.
The trail is easily accessed from the Cardozo/African American Civil War Memorial/Shaw Metro stop on the Green Line.
In addition to learning about some of the rich African American history, the trail includes a wide variety of Victorian style architecture and a large park with a dramatic water cascade.
More information about the trail can be found at: