This is one in a series of morning photo essays documenting neighborhoods around town.
September 24, 2011, Washington, DC: Our neighborhood Main Street three blocks from the apartment is up-and-at-’em early this morning, and not only because this area is full of children and dogs. Today is our own fall festival, one of many marking September in Washington. This morning we are showing off Barracks Row as it was always intended to be: As a central commercial hub in Washington, D.C.
As early as 1799, the Washington Navy Yard was established in this neighborhood, where it anchors the south end of Barracks Row at the Anacostia River. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson established the Marine Barracks a few blocks north on this stretch of 8th St. SE., where it’s still a presence today.
Since its early days as a commercial corridor, the Row has gone through various iterations and growing pains, including the challenges posed by the construction of a highway overpass across 8th St. in 1962, followed by the 1968 riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. To our benefit, this rich history is well-documented with signs sprinkled along a Neighborhood Heritage Trail created by Cultural Tourism DC. Walking along Barracks Row, we learn stories of places like the City Bank and the now National Community Church, formerly the Meader Theater from 1909-1962.
New shops and restaurants are constantly opening as the face of the street continues to evolve. As it does, this stretch is remaining, relatively speaking, free of large commercial chain stores. Several of the bars and restaurants here, including Senart’s, Molly Malone’s and Lola’s, are owned by one man who’s concentrating his business empire throughout this neighborhood alone.
Others restaurants are also unique spots and awesome finds. In a neighborhood like this one that’s earlier to rise than others in the city, one place we’re grateful for is Ted’s Bulletin, the best breakfast spot in the city. Ted’s couldn’t be more welcoming to young families who need room for strollers and high chairs, and nothing beats its diner eggs and toast, milkshakes, and yes, homemade poptarts. We’re also lucky to have a mix of old and new on Barracks Row, including fancy new roof decks and old-school barber shops.
For now, we also have an old Erols Video Club storefront, at least temporarily. Remember Erols, where we used to rent VHS and Beta tapes? Both a remnant to the past and a sign of the times, the Blockbuster Video here recently went out of business and stripped down its sign, only to reveal the old Erols sign beneath it.
Learn more about Barracks Row both here and at today’s fall festival. See you there on this great American Main Street…