Less than a mile northeast of The White House is the DC neighborhood of Shaw. Rich in African-American history, Shaw has an exciting mix culture dating back to pre-Civil War. Duke Ellington was born in Shaw, and some of the theaters that he and other stars of “Black Broadway” are still in use.
Though Shaw is just 11-blocks north of The Mall, there so much do an see that you’ll likely never need to leave. Here are some of our favorites.
Visit Historic Howard Theatre
At the north end of the neighborhood you’ll find The Howard Theatre, a historic DC landmark that originally opened in 1910. During the Great Depression the building was used as a church, but it reopened as a theater in 1931 with Duke Ellington and his band performing there regularly, firmly establishing it as a hub for African-American music culture. Ella Fitzgerald began her career here and through the 20th Century others such as Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Lena Horne, Lionel Hampton, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and Dionne Warwick have all performed on its stage.
Restored between 2007 – 2012, The Howard Theater has over 600 seats in the two-level concert hall and regularly features jazz, rock and blues acts.
620 T St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Take Your Dog Skateboarding
Well, you may not be able to play with your dog and skateboard at the same time, but on the west side of Shaw you’ll find Shaw Dog Park and Shaw Skate Park. Both are among the best in DC.
The Shaw Skate Park, free to the public, is open year-round, 7-days a week from dusk to dawn. Its 11,000 square feet of skateboarding surface boasts concrete ramps, stairs, grind boxes and half-pipes.
The Shaw Dog park was opened in 2008 after local dog owners advocated for a permanent dog park in the neighborhood. It offers 15,000 fenced in square feet where dog owners can bring their dogs and allow them to play and socialize off-leash. There are two separate enclosed areas, one for smaller, physically challenged or senior dogs, and the other for larger and more active dogs. Like Shaw Skate Park, Shaw Dog Park is free to he public, but donations to The Shaw Dog Park Association are gratefully encouraged.
Located on 11th St. between Rhode Island Ave and R St. NW.
Grab a Beer Brewed Right Here
Also on the north end of the Shaw neighborhood is the Shaw Brewpub & Kitchen, the brewpub for the Right Proper Brewing Company, who also have production and tasting room in Brookland. For beer enthusiast, Shaw Brewpub uses a 5-Barrel system which means the beers change frequently and offers the brewers room to experiment. The food from the kitchen is not your standard pub-fare, but more like what you’ll find at a bistro, including items such as Gilled Octopus, Lamb French Dip and Wood-Grilled Salmon, all very reasonably priced.
624 T St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Visit The African American Civil War Memorial Museum
Near the northwest corner of Shaw is The African American Civil War Memorial Museum. Outside the museum you’ll find the Memorial, a dramatic 9-foot bronze statue which commemorates the 209,145 African-American Civil War soldiers and sailors served our country during the Civil War, as well as walls listing all of their names.
Inside the museum you can see photographs, uniforms the soldier wore, and read the letters they sent to their loved ones. Admission is free, and doors open at 10:00am Monday thru Saturday, Noon on Sunday.
1925 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Located in the heart of Shaw, Buttercream Bakeshop is an award-winning confectionery owned and led by 2018 RAMMYS Pastry Chef of the Year Tiffany MacIsaac. Buttercream boasts a wide variety of both savory and sweet creations. Whether you want a delicious scone to start your day, or a multi-tiered cake for your wedding, if you’re looking for something yummy you’ll likely find it here.
1250 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Loiter in an Alley
Okay – that doesn’t sound very appealing at all, unless you’re in Blagden Alley! Running north-south between M and N streets, you’ll find some of the most popular bars and restaurants in Shaw, including Calico (which has an open air “urban backyard” bar), The Dabney, The Columbia Room and Tiger Fork. Or you can visit the DC Alley Museum and see artwork including the “LOVE” mural by Marie Thalhammer.
Blagden Alley is such a treasure that it has been designated a Historic District by the National Park Service.
Have A Great Cup Of Coffee
Compass Coffee is a local coffee roaster that sources its beans from all over the world. They offer 9-different blends of coffee from a light, sweet, berry-like blend called Horizon, to a dark, smokey blend they call Azimuth. They also roast single-origin coffee from Guatemala, Brazil and Ethiopia. Perhaps you’re an espresso drinker, or you favor tea instead – don’t worry, Compass Coffee has you covered.
There are 9 other locations in DC and one in Virginia, but all the coffee is roasted right here in Shaw. Stop in for a hot cup or stock up on beans for your home.
Open 7am – 8pm daily
1535 7th St. NW Washington, DC
Visit Connersmith Art Gallery
Anyone interested in art will appreciate Connersmith, an art gallery opened in 1999 by Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith. Connersmith specializes in contemporary art and post war painting, as well as participates in international art fairs, including The Armory Show, Art Brussels, ARCO and EXPO Chicago.
Open Weekdays, 10:00 – 5:00
1013 O St NW, Washington, DC 20001