Located just north of downtown and anchored by the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Shaw neighborhood has a vibrant past and a bright future (view a map of the Shaw Main Streets service area here).
Development of the area began in the 1860s along the 7th and 9th Street streetcar lines. A wide range of businesses lined these corridors, including bakers, lumberyards, clothiers, hardware stores, theaters, barbers, restaurants, and nightclubs. And the variety of businesses in the area was as diverse as the residents of the blocks surrounding these commercial streets. Among the people who called Shaw home were internationally known historic figures “Duke” Ellington, Carter G. Woodson, and Langston Hughes.
Like much of the District, Shaw experienced an extended period of decline in the mid-twentieth century. Several factors brought about this time of disinvestment, including the loss of the streetcars, the shift of population and retail to the suburbs, and the 1968 riots. The area became characterized by boarded and vacant buildings, liquor stores, fast food carryouts, and used car lots.
The 1990s foreshadowed a grand, new era for the neighborhood. In 1991, after years of construction, Metro completed construction of the Green Line and accompanying stations in the core of the neighborhood. The long-planned, $850 million convention center broke ground in 1997 on what were acres of surface parking lots.
In the past decade, Shaw has become a vibrant and attractive community in the District of Columbia. Long abandoned homes and buildings have been renovated. Long vacant storefronts are occupied with new businesses that neighbors and visitors alike patronize. Developers have invested millions of dollars into major new construction projects that have brought with them new residents, new businesses and guests to the District of Columbia. Shaw's renaissance is apparent.
Shaw boasts many assets making it a desirable place to live, visit, and do business.
The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is a 2.3 million square foot convention center -- one of the ten largest in the country -- containing more than 700,000 square feet of prime exhibit space, 125,000 square feet of meeting space and nearly 70 meeting rooms. a 52,000 square foot ballroom featuring pre-function area with breathtaking panoramic views of the DC skyline, including the Capitol and the Washington Monument. The convention center attracts about 1 million visitors a year.
Abundant public transit means Shaw is very accessible both from inside and outside of the District. Metro's Green and Yellow lines run through Shaw with two stations: the Mt Vernon Sq 7th St-Convention Center Station and the Shaw-Howard U Station. Numerous bus lines -- including a Circulator line -- also serve the neighborhood. There are several Capital Bikeshare stations located in the neighborhood. Finally worth noting, the neighborhood has easy access to Interstate 395.
Culturally, the area is rich with public art and arts venues. One notable venue is the recently restored Howard Theatre. Headliners from the Howard's past include such legends as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Abbott and Costello, Pearl Bailey, Buddy Holly, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown and The Famous Flames, Otis Redding, Lena Horne, Redd Foxx, and Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers. After completion of a $29 million renovation in 2012, the theater is once again hosting notable performers and functions, drawing people to the 600 block of T Street, NW. Another notable venue that draws crowds to Shaw is the 9:30 Club, which hosts a variety of concerts and parties since opening at 9th and V Streets in 1996.
There are many publicly-owned assets throughout the neighborhood greatly enhance the quality of life in Shaw. The Kennedy Recreation Center, for example, features basketball courts, a baseball field, two playgrounds (one for tots and one for older kids), a tennis court, a weight room and gymnasium, a horseshoe pit, picnic areas, and a multi-purpose room and computer room. Another example is the beautiful new, award-winning Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library, which opened in 2010.
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