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Tag Archive | "U Street NW"

Before U Street There Was Camp Barker

From Allison Acosta. Email her at allison[AT]borderstan.com.

"U Street"

2012 archaeological dig of Camp Baker. (Courtesy African American Civil War Museum)

Many neighborhood residents know about U Street’s historic past as a vibrant community of African-Americans during the first half of the 20th Century. Commonly referred to as “Black Broadway,” the U Street neighborhood was a hub for African-American entertainment venues, businesses, civil organizations and homes.

But why did U Street become such a center for African-American life in the early 20th Century? According to Dawn Chitty, education director at the African American Civil War Museum, part of the answer may lie beneath the field of Garrison Elementary school on S Street NW.

At the beginning of the Civil War, this area of DC was essentially rural. When the federal government bought property along Vermont Avenue NW near Logan Circle, the site was home to only a small church and a few graves.

Camp Barker Comes to a Rural Area

On this land, the federal government built Camp Barker as a barracks for Civil War soldiers. But as the war progressed, the government determined there was a more pressing need for Camp Barker.

The Confiscation Acts of 1861 and 1862 authorized the confiscation of any Confederate property, including slaves, by Union forces. As seized property, the formerly enslaved were considered contraband, and these people needed somewhere to go.

In the late spring of 1862, Camp Barker became one of a few hundred “Contraband Camps” that were built to house formerly enslaved persons. At its height, Camp Barker housed roughly 4,000 people and was one of the largest Contraband Camps in the area.

Growth Through the Civil War

The camp had at least one large building, a hospital area, and, of course, housing. Many people living in the camp found work in the city as domestics and laborers. When the Union began forming regiments of “Colored Troops” in 1863, they recruited from the Contraband Camps.

President Lincoln often passed by Camp Barker on his way to the Soldier’s Home, and in the fall of 1862 he visited the camp. This photograph of children singing during the visit is the only known photograph of the site.

“The significance of the camp is in what becomes of the inhabitants afterwards,” says Chitty. “Many of the inhabitants bought property and built homes, and many of them built homes around the Camp Barker Site. This became U Street.”

Camp Barker did not have sufficient clean water and adequate sewage, and an outbreak of cholera forced the government to shut it down in late 1863. When the camp closed, many of the inhabitants relocated to another contraband camp on the site of what is now Arlington Cemetery, but others bought property and stayed nearby.

“There was one woman in particular who wrote to her family to say she was not coming back to Virginia,” says Chitty. “She said she was going to stay here because her son had built a good home for them on Boundary Street, which is what they called what is now Florida Avenue and U Street.”

Archaeological Dig at Garrison School

In July 2012, The African American Civil War Museum conducted an archaeological survey of the field behind Garrison Elementary school. The survey is part of a larger project meant to take the study of these Contraband Camps to the next level, to understand how many of them became communities and what became of the people living there.

The Museum brought in an archaeologist to perform magnetometry, which detects metal underground, and ground-penetrating radar. The results of the survey show the different time periods when the site was most active. Most recently, in the 1930s to 1950s, you can see the imprint of where 12th Street NW used to run all the way through what is now the Garrison Field, the remains of the old Garrison school building which faced 12th Street and imprints of where houses used to be located.

The survey also found several areas, marked in blue on the map shown here, where objects from Camp Barker would likely be found.

If you dug in these areas, you would likely find objects that people lost or threw away. You would find the privies, which can give a good sense of diseases and food ways. You might find more permanent structures built on the site, although it is unclear from the maps of the time exactly where Camp Barker’s main building stood.

There are no plans at present to do any digging on the site, but it is a possibility for the future. For now, the goal is to chart these sites and encourage others to work collaboratively to learn more about them. Many people can trace back their family histories to these Contraband Camps, and they played an important role not only in the Civil War, but also in what happened in the communities after the War.

Says Chitty, “I knew that Camp Barker was there, but over the course of the project I see more how the history of the site is important not just to Garrison Elementary, but to the community as well.”

"U Street"

Camp Barker. (National Archives)

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More Pizza: &Pizza Opens on U Street


&pizza at 1250 U Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The guys from &pizza have been working on this space since the end of last year and &pizza is opening today. The new location at 1250 U Street NW is their second shop and they are working on a third one for Brookland in Northeast DC.

The new pizza place will be opening in the old Quiznos location, just a few steps away from the U Street Metro stop. A couple of weeks ago &pizza conducted a poster campaign in the neighborhood to spread the word out about the impending opening.

The pizza place will keep the same concept as the original store. Some of the pies include the Moonstruck (mushroom truffle, goat cheese, mushrooms, fig marsala, red pepper chili oil and crushed black pepper) and the Grecian Market (red chickpea, mushrooms, broccolini, artichoke, kalamata olives, pickled red onion and feta cheese). Check their menu.

&pizza’s hours are 11 am to 11 pm Sunday through Wednesday,  Thursday 11 am to 2:30 am, and Friday and Saturday 11 am to 3:30 am.

&pizza joins a number of Italian and pizza places that have recently opened along 14th Street. Matchbox, Piola, Ghibellina and Etto are just a few of the newest restaurants (we can’t forget about longtime standbys such as Manny & Olga’s).

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Early Morning Gun Robbery, 10th and U NW

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Crime news from Dupont-Logan-U Street.

DC Police reported a gun robbery at 1:30 am, Saturday, June 8, at 10th and U Streets NW. The lookout is for one man who was riding a bike; details are below.


From the DC Police Twitter feed: “Robbery Gun //10th & U St NW //LOF B/M, dark complexion, wearing black pants w/ a white stripe, and a blue hoodie last seen on a bike //6559.”

Police Alerts, More Information

  • You can sign up for alerts through Alert DC and get alerts  by e-mail, cell phone, pager or wireless PDA. When signing up, you can select alerts on crime, transportation, utility outages/issues, government closings, breaking news, DC-sponsored events and Amber Alerts.
  • You can follow the DC Police on Twitter @DCPoliceDept.
  • You can get more information about crime in the Borderstan area through the MPD listservs for the Second and Third Districts on Yahoo! Groups.

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Ready for Another Slice: You &pizza


&pizza at 1250 U Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.


&pizza soon to open on U Street. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The newest installment of H &pizza, simply named &pizza  is almost ready to make it’s presence felt on U Street. Located at 1250 U Street NW, the lease for the new space was signed at the end of last year with the idea that it would open some time in mid-May.

That time has clearly come and gone but judging from the flyers cropping up all around the neighborhood, the opening is coming soon.

Simply named &pizza according to a piece in the Washington Business Journal last March, the new pizza place will be opening at the old Quiznos location just a few steps away from the U Street metro. There were plenty of renovations going on to get the location into shape but they have since come to completion. The poster campaign currently seems to be the primary method for getting the word out about the impending opening.

A New Pizza Contender

&pizza is about to become another contender amongst the many Italian and pizza places recently opening up along 14th Street. Right in the area is Matchbox, Piola, Ghibellina, and that’s just to name a few of the newest restaurants (we can’t forget about classic stand-bys like Manny & Olga’s).

What sets &pizza apart from the rest of these locations, speaking geographically, is that it will be located up on U Street instead of 14th. So when you’re hanging out on U Street or getting out of a show at the 9:30, &pizza just might be the first place that you see. Not to mention that &pizza is meant to be quick and easy, perfect for when it’s late, you’re hungry, but you also want to get home.

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Cyclist Struck at 11th and U NW Thursday

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News from DC’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

Borderstan has not found any updates today on the condition on the 20-year-old male cyclist who was seriously injured Thursday after being hit by a car at 11th and U Streets NW. According to numerous sources, the accident occurred at 10 am.

Dcist cites city sources who said the young man has life-threatening injuries; his identity has not been released. WJLA reported that the cyclist had died, but this was not picked up by other media outlets and has not been confirmed by officials.

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The Wydown Coffee Bar Opens on U Street


Chad and Alex McCracken at The Wydown. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Luis Gomez. Catch his photos at One Photograph A Day. Follow him on Twitter @LuisGomezPhotos.

The Wydown Coffee Bar is Chad and Alex McCracken’s first venture. For now it is a pop-up at 1320 U Street NW until their space at the Louis on 14th and U Street is ready.  The McCracken brothers decided to go this route as a way of creating brand recognition, building a customer base and becoming a part of the neighborhood; they already live in the neighborhood but now they are getting to know their customers.


Kaldis, PTs and Intelligentsia coffees. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The Wydown pop-up opened this past weekend. The name comes from St. Louis, their hometown.

For now they are serving Kaldi’s Coffee, PT’s and Intelligentsia.  Offering tea and pastries from Pattiserie Poupon. Once moved to their new space their offerings will grow and they hope they can start roasting their own coffee as well.

The Wydown Coffee Bar is open Monday to Saturday from 7 am  to 2 pm and weekends from 8 am to 2 pm.

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April 20: Time for 10th Annual Vermont Avenue Garden Party


Vermont Avenue neighbors host their annual garden clean-up party on April 20. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Spring is here and it’s time to garden and plant for the spring and summer. Put it on your calendar: The 10th Annual Vermont Avenue Garden Party is Saturday, April 20.

Yes, you might be working a lot that day, doing some gardening. But what could be better than to spend a some time with neighbors and friends cleaning up, planting and mulching the quarter mile of street gardens along Vermont Avenue from S to U Street NW?

The meet up place is at the African-American Civil War Memorial on U Street and Vermont Avenue NW. Be there at 9 am — training, tools and lunch will be provided.

For more photos from last year’s Vermont Avenue Garden Work Party, last year see Shaena Fazal’s collection.

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BIN 1301 Creates Online Petition for Community Support


BIN 1301 is looking for community support. (Luis Gomez Photos)

BIN 1301 Wine Bar will be a new restaurant serving Mexican food at 1301 U Street NW. The owners have created an online petition looking for community support for obtaining a liquor license.

The new restaurant will occupy the location of U-Scream Ice Cream & Treatery. The new restaurant will have a seating capacity of 36 inside and 35 for the sidewalk patio.

If you would like to support Bin 1301 just head to the online petition. The petition invites you to sign if you think a place like this will enhance the neighborhood by providing a unique place to enjoy a glass of wine, learn more about various wines, and relax with friends.

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Lost Dog: Help Find Trixie


Trixie got lost near 11th and U Streets NW.

Last night Trixie went missing near 11th and U Streets NW. If anyone has seen her, please contact Allison at allison.acosta@gmail.com or call 202-365-2337.

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January-March: Crime Up Slightly in 2013 from 2012

From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.


News from DC’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

Crime within the Borderstan boundaries in the first three months of 2013 was up slightly from 2012 numbers.

Overall, there were 651 total serious violent and property crimes, an increase of about 2% compared to the 638 incidents in the same time period in 2012 (see Crime in First Three Months of 2012 Up Only Slightly from 2011). Violent crime and property crime are both down about 5% when examining all of DC.

Property Crimes Driving Increase

In the table below, the counts for each offense type for the first quarter of 2012 and 2013 are included. The slight increase in offenses in 2013 is being driven entirely by property crime increases.

The large increase in burglary has been driven in part by a recent string of daytime burglaries in the Dupont area (Police Warn of Series of Daytime Burglaries in Dupont). Thefts also have shown an increase, while thefts from auto are down slightly.

In terms of violent crime, assaults with a deadly weapon are down substantially so far in 2013, and robberies are also down somewhat.


Jan-March 2012 Crimes

Jan-March 2013 Crimes

Percent Change

Assault with a Deadly Weapon 26 14 -46.2%
Arson 1 1 0%
Burglary 18 36 +100.0%
Homicide 1 1 0%
Robbery 64 57 -10.9%
Sex Abuse 3 3 0%
Stolen Auto 40 30 -25.0%
Theft 190 236 +24.2%
Theft from Auto 295 273 -7.5%
TOTAL 638 651 +2.0%

Top Blocks for Crimes

In terms of examining crime incidents block-by-block, for reasons that are not entirely clear, the new Metropolitan Police Department data system combines multiple blocks of Connecticut Avenue NW around Dupont Circle, making 1300 to 1699 Connecticut Avenue NW a single street block.

Thus far in 2013, this “block” has had the most serious incidents in Borderstan with a total of 29. The 1600 block of Connecticut Avenue NW has traditionally had the most incidents in that area, but it is now impossible to determine exactly how these 29 incidents are distributed along the street.

The 1300 block of U Street had 14 incidents through the first three months of 2013. Both the 700 and 800 block of Mount Vernon Place (also combined into a single block) and the 900 block of U Street had 13 serious incidents, and the 1400 block of P Street recorded 12 thus far. All of these blocks were among the highest crime locations in 2012 as well.

Crime incidents were fairly evenly distributed across the first three months of 2013. There were 227 offenses recorded in January, 185 in February, and 239 in March.

Data for these analyses were drawn from the Metropolitan Police Department Crime Mapping Application. Incidents are subject to reclassification, so these data may change slightly over the course of 2013.

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