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Washington, DC: The neighborhood of Capitol Hill


Now that I have covered the layout (a diamond grid with four main sections – northwest, northeast, southeast, and southwest) I can go on to talk about an actual neighborhood! A popular and beautiful neighborhood is Capitol Hill. Most of you will probably think of the area around the US Capitol as “Capitol Hill”, but in DC, it is more commonly used to describe the neighborhood east of the Capitol.

Pierre L’Enfant, the architect of the city, originally named the area Jenkins Hill or Jenkins Heights, and it is one of the oldest residential areas of the city. It became a distinct neighborhood in the early 1800s when the government was building the Capitol and the Navy Yard, and a little later the Marine Barracks, providing employment for a large number of people. A real estate boom took place between 1890 and 1910 as electricity, running water, and plumbing were installed in the area’s houses. Capitol Hill has been a Historic District since 1976, and is one of the largest ones in the US. Most of the buildings are late Victorian. As you walk towards the Capitol, the houses become grander and larger, while smaller, more modest townhouses line the streets further east. Join me for a walk from Potomac Avenue SE to Union Station!

I love the interesting roofs - I want to do a whole post on those one day!

Here's a cool one:


The wooden ones are old - after a fire in the early 1900s they were outlawed:

Some have columns:

Corner houses are usually big:

...and some have gorgeous gardens!

Comments (8)


My goodness these are lovely old homes! I had no idea Washington had such lovely neighbourhoods. My only experience was one night en route to Florida and we drove by the area in back of the White House (I think that's where - it was NOT a nice looking place anyway). I want to go back and see more of it now.

Thank you for taking me along - these are great photos of gorgeous homes!

If I can't go to Europe this year I think I'll go to DC.


You have taken us through very lovely neighborhoods. Thank you.

In one of my visits there, I got lost walking from Dupont Circle / DoubleTree Hotel area to the Ford Theater. I was looking for the Hard Rock Cafe. I got lost and ended up in some neighborhoods not nearly as nice as these. Walking solo at dusk, I was actually pretty scared.

But all's well that ends well... :)

I love the photos! The houses are all so interesting and very beautiful. I wonder if anything is in those coned shape things at the top - are they called roofs or ?? Are they rooms or for storage or empty and just decoration.

I love the roofs too!

These photos look European to me. I'm so glad that there are a few places in the USA with interesting architecture like this.

Anne and Maria - come visit! There's always room and I love showing people around.

Eden, yes, there are definitely some neighborhoods that are less nice... Plus the downtown area can get pretty dead at night, so I can see why that was a little scary!

Girasoli, I am not sure what they are called - towers or turrets or something. In my experience they are just for decoration (i.e. with a flat ceiling under) but it could be that some are different.


You're doing a great service for DC! I really like this series. We too easily can lose ourselves on K Street and forget sometimes about the beauty in this city! Keep it up.


Nice photos! I was actually in DC this past Memorial Day weekend. It was beautiful weather and such a gorgeous place! I didn't have a chance to walk around Capitol Hill's residential area, but your photos certainly fill in that part of the trip that I missed. Great blogging series! :)

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