Hub, Home, Heart
— Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —
Maryland Avenue in the 1930s was home to immigrants from around the Mediterranean. Evelyn Kogok Hier grew up at 1328 Maryland Avenue. She remembered her next-door neighbor, the Right Reverend Ayoub (Job) Salloom, hosting after-church gatherings where men shared a hookah, the ancient water pipe for smoking tobacco. Rev. Salloom ministered to the tight-knit "Little Lebanon" community at St. George's Syrian Orthodox Church on Eighth Street, NW. As a chile, Kogok remembered, she would cut through Linden Court to H Street and the candies at Lebanese-owned Farris & Son's Confectioners. The Atlas movie house replaced Farris's in 1938.
Many of the neighborhood's Grek immigrants started up the economic ladder selling produce from huckster wagons, then renting stalls at the wholesale markets before opening their own, often food-related, businesses. In the 1940s the Pappas and Callas families operated produce stands at Union Terminal Market on Florida Avenue. The Cokinos family ran the nearby Goody Shop confectionery beginning in 1910. Greeks owned the Rendezvous Club and the Paramount, Kavakos, Chaconas, and Bacchus grills along H Street between here and Seventh Street. On the Fourth of July, their children donned traditional Greek military uniforms to march in the neighborhood parade.
Although African American families had long lived in the neighborhood, deeds originally restricted some blocks, including this on, to whites. African American educators James L., and Gustava Eubanks operated Washington Junior College of Music at 12th and G before moving it to 1252 Maryland Avenue in 1947.
Noted African American architect Lewis Giles, Sr. (1893-1974) grew up on Linden Place, which you will pass on your left as you walk to Sign 13.
To reach Sign 13, turn right on 13th Street, cross H, and turn left.
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Just across G Street from this sign is Linden Court, one of the area's inhabited alleys. In 1897 more than 100 African American families lived in tiny, flat-fronted rowhouses alongside stables and workshops. The houses on the north side of the alley were demolished in 1937 to make way for the Atlas Theater, but enough remain to give the flavor of the old community.
Trains and streetcars created the Near Northeast neighborhood around H Street. The B&O Railroad's arrival in 1835 made this a center of energetic, working-class life. Workmen living north of the Capitol staffed the Government Printing Office, ran the trains, stocked the warehouses, and built Union Station. When a streetcar arrived linking H Street to downtown, new construction quickly followed.
H Street bustled with shops and offices run by Jewish, Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Irish, and African American families. During the segregation era, which lasted into the 1950s, African Americans came to H Street for its department stores and sit-down restaurants. Most businesses welcomed all customers.
Then came the civil disturbances in the wake of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968. Decades of commercial decline followed. Just off H Street, though, the strong residential community endured. The 2005 opening of the Atlas Performing Arts Center signaled a revival, building evocatively on H Street's past. Hub, Home, Heart
is a bridge to carry you from that past to the present.
Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail
is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 3.2-mile tour of 18 signs offers about two hours of gentle exercise. Free keepsake guidebooks in English or Spanish are available at businesses and institutions along the way. For more on DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.