Shaw is situated towards the northwest corner of Washington, DC and encompasses a relatively small area as compared to other neighborhoods. It sprawls around the U Street NW and has been named after Shaw Junior High School, which in turn was named after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War. The African American communities started moving in during the early 1920s and today, Shaw is probably the largest African American neighborhood in all of DC. The area is a thriving hub for the economic, cultural and social upliftment of the African American communities. Shaw has many streets that are named after freedom fighters for racial equality, namely Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Shaw originally emerged as the suburban settlement by the freed slaves of Washington DC. Previously, the boundary extended till the Boundary Street and the encompassing area was known as Uptown. Later, during the renewal and revitalization of the area, the neighborhood came to be known to be as Shaw, named after Colonel of Civil War.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Shaw contributed many prominent figures to the African American cultural and intellectual circle. The area also received the attention of the governing bodies, resulting in the signing of Howard University’s founding charter and “The New Negro” concept.
The neighborhood, however, witnessed a downfall following the riots after Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. Columbia Heights, H street, and NE Corridor were among other areas affected by the riots. The area was left with burnt buildings, cut off from electricity and water. This resulted in a gradual decline of the population, poverty, and crime, accelerated. Later, the civic leaders Watha T. Daniel and Walter Fauntroy led several projects to revive the neighborhood, using the federal money.
Shaw is served by the public schools run by the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). These schools follow the traditional education system like in the rest of Washington DC. The neighborhood also has the Watha T. Daniel Community Library operated by the District of Columbia Public Library.
Places to visit:
The Howard Theatre
This is a two leveled theater with a statue of Duke Wellington, who used to play here. Big names like Marvin Gaye and Ella Fitzgerald used to play here during the 20th century. Today, the theater play jazz, blues and rock.
Right Proper Brewing Company
This place has a vintage décor and offers made on site brews. It also has an in house cheesemonger and hosts special tastings on special occasions.
Dinner at the Red Hen
The Red Hen serves Italian and has a laid back countryside decoration. They cook in wooden fireplaces and offer exceptional wine. You can pick on anything from pasta to rigatoni with seafood. The place is very affordable and a favorite among the Shaw diners.
Atlantic Plumbing Cinema
You can pre-book the tickets in Atlanta Plumbing Cinema and also chose from their attractive roster of indie movies. This is a favorite hangout of the locals. The place also serves great cocktails and tidbits that can enjoy at the lounge or carry into the screening room.