Capitol Hill, in addition to being a metonym for the United States
Congress, is the largest historic residential neighborhood in
Washington, D.C., stretching easterly in front of the United States
Capitol along wide avenues. It is one of the oldest residential
neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., and with roughly 35,000 people in
just under 2 square miles (5 km2), it is also one of the most
As a geographic feature,
rises near the center of the
District of Columbia and extends eastward. Pierre (Peter) Charles
L'Enfant, as he began to develop his plan for the new federal capital
city in 1791, chose to locate the "Congress House" (the Capitol
building) on the crest of the hill at a site that he characterized as
a "pedestal waiting for a monument". The Capitol building has been the
home of the Congress of the United States and the workplace of many
residents of the
neighborhood since 1800.
neighborhood today straddles two quadrants of the
city, Southeast and Northeast. A large portion of the neighborhood is
now designated as the
is often used to refer to both the historic
district and to the larger neighborhood around it. To the east of
River, to the north is the H Street
corridor, to the south are the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and the
Washington Navy Yard, and to the west are the
city's central business district.
The Capitol building is surrounded by the
District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Historic District was expanded in 2015 to the
north to include the blocks bordered by 2nd Street, F Street, 4th
Street, and just south of H Street, NE, collectively known as the
3 Notable residents
6 External links
L'Enfant selected the location of the Capitol (the "Congress House")
in his 1791 design for the federal capital city (see: L'Enfant Plan).
He referred to the hill chosen as the site of the future Congress
House as "Jenkins Hill" or "Jenkins Heights".
However, the tract of land had for many years belonged to the Carroll
family and was noted in their records of ownership as "New Troy".
While a man named Thomas Jenkins had once pastured some livestock at
the site of the Capitol (and thus his name was associated with the
site), artist John Trumbull, who would paint several murals inside the
Capitol's rotunda, reported in 1791 that the site was covered with a
thick wood, making it an unlikely place for livestock to graze.
Research published in 2004 by the
Capitol Hill Historical Society
showed that Jenkins' land was just seven blocks east of the site of
the Capitol and that L'Enfant was likely to have given Jenkins' name
to the general location.
While serving in 1793 as President George Washington's Secretary of
Thomas Jefferson named Capitol Hill, invoking the famous Temple
of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill, one of the seven
hills of Rome. However, the connection between the two is not
The neighborhood that is now called
Capitol Hill started to develop
when the government began work at two locations, the Capitol and the
Washington Navy Yard. It became a distinct community between 1799 and
1810 as the federal government became a major employer. The first
stage in its early history was that of a boarding house community
developed for members of Congress. In the early years of the Republic,
few Congressmen wished to establish permanent residence in the city.
Instead, most preferred to live in boarding houses within walking
distance of the Capitol.
In 1799, the
Washington Navy Yard
Washington Navy Yard was established on the banks of the
Anacostia River, providing jobs to craftsmen who built and repaired
ships. Many of the craftsmen who were employed both at the Navy Yard
and in the construction of the Capitol chose to live within walking
distance, to the east of the Capitol and the north of the Navy Yard.
They became the original residential population of the neighborhood.
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson, who was at the time President of the United
States, selected the location of the Marine Barracks, which had to be
within marching distance of both the Capitol and the White House, near
the Washington Navy Yard. By 1810, shops, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, and
churches were flourishing in the area.
The Civil War resulted in more construction in the
Capitol Hill area,
including the building of hospitals. Construction of new houses
continued in the 1870s and 1880s. The neighborhood began to divide
along racial and economic class lines. Electricity, piped water, and
plumbing were introduced in the 1890s, and were first available in the
downtown areas of the District of Columbia, including Capitol Hill.
There was a real estate development boom between 1890 and 1910 as the
Capitol Hill area became one of the first neighborhoods having these
In 1976, the
Capitol Hill Historic District was placed on the National
Register of Historic Places. It is one of the largest historic
districts in the United States. The boundaries of the historic
district are irregular, extending southward from F Street NE, as far
east as 14th Street, as far west as South Capitol Street, and with a
southern limit marked chiefly by Virginia Avenue but including some
territory as far south as M Street SE. It includes buildings from the
Federal period (1800 to 1820) through 1919, but most of the buildings
are late Victorian.
Capitol Hill has remained a fairly stable middle-class neighborhood
throughout its existence. It suffered a period of economic decline and
rising crime in the mid-20th century but gradually recovered. During
the so-called "crack epidemic" of the 1980s, its fringes were often
affected. Beginning in the 1990s, the neighborhood has undergone
Christ Church built 1806 on G Street SE
Capitol Hill's landmarks include not only the United States Capitol,
but also the Senate and House office buildings, the Supreme Court
building, the Library of Congress, the Marine Barracks, the Washington
Navy Yard, and Congressional Cemetery.
It is, however, largely a residential neighborhood composed
predominantly of rowhouses of different stylistic varieties and
periods. Side by side exist early 19th century manor houses, Federal
townhouses, small frame dwellings, ornate Italianate bracketed houses,
and the late 19th century press brick rowhouses with their often
whimsical decorative elements combining Richardsonian Romanesque,
Queen Anne, and Eastlakian motifs. In the 1990s, gentrification and
the booming economy of the District of Columbia meant that the
neighborhood's non-historic and obsolete buildings began to be
replaced. New buildings, which have to comply with height limits and
other restrictions, are often done in a decorative modernist style,
many by Amy Weinstein, whose designs feature polychrome brickwork set
in patterned relief.
The main non-residential corridor of
Capitol Hill is Pennsylvania
Avenue, a lively commercial street with shops, restaurants and bars.
Eastern Market is an 1873 public market on 7th Street SE, where
vendors sell fresh meat and produce in indoor stalls and at outdoor
farmers' stands. It is also the site of an outdoor flea market every
weekend. After a major fire gutted the main market building on April
30, 2007, it underwent restoration and reopened on June 26, 2009.
Barracks Row (8th Street SE), so called because of its proximity to
the U.S. Marine Barracks, is one of the city's oldest commercial
corridors. It dates to the late 18th century and has recently been
A new addition to
Capitol Hill is a community center named Hill
Center. Hill Center is housed in the restored
Old Naval Hospital
Old Naval Hospital at
the corner of 9th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The rehabilitation of
Old Naval Hospital
Old Naval Hospital combines the restoration of a historically
significant landmark with the cutting edge technologies of modern
“green” architecture. Hill Center is a vibrant new home for
cultural, educational, and civic life on Capitol Hill.
Recent estimates in
Capitol Hill newspapers suggest as many as a third
of all Members of Congress live on
Capitol Hill while in Washington.
Famous people who were born in the
Capitol Hill neighborhood include
John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa (whose birthplace, on G St., near Christ Church is
still standing) and J. Edgar Hoover. Frederick Douglass's former house
can be found in the 300 block of A Street Northeast. In the 1970s, the
Douglass house was used as an African Art Museum by Warren M. Robbins.
Isaac Fulwood, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the
District of Columbia (1989–1992)
East Capitol Street NE
Police Substation Number 1
Houses on G Street, SE
Houses on D Street SE
The Hiram W. Johnson House, a
National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark located on
^ a b c d "
Capitol Hill Historic District". National Register of
Historic Places Travel Itinerary. National Park Service. Retrieved
February 18, 2013.
^ a b Vlach, John Michael (Spring 2004). "The Mysterious Mr. Jenkins
of Jenkins Hill".
United States Capitol
United States Capitol Historical Society. Archived
from the original on October 23, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
^ (1) "History of Capitol Hill". Architecture. Washington, D.C.:
Architect of the Capitol. Archived from the original on 2017-04-27.
(2) L'Enfant, P.C. (June 22, 1791). "To The President of the United
States". L'Enfant's Reports To President Washington Bearing Dates of
March 26, June 22, and August 19, 1791: Records of the Columbia
Historical Society. Washington, D.C.: Columbia Historical Society
(1899). 2: 34–35. Retrieved 2011-12-28 – via Google Books.
^ (1) Bordewich, Fergus M. (September 2008). "A Capitol Vision From a
Self-Taught Architect". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian.com.
(2) Harper, Douglas. "Capitol". Online Etymology Dictionary.
^ Hodgkins, George W. (1960). "Naming the Capitol and the Capital".
Records of the Columbia Historical Society,
Washington, D.C. 60/62:
36–53. JSTOR 40067217.
^ "Shoppers Celebrate Reopening of Eastern Market on Capitol Hill".
The Washington Post. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
^ Mencimer, Stephanie (25 October 1996). "Building Blocks Architect
Amy Weinstein Is Redesigning
Capitol Hill One Block at a Time".
Washington City Paper. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
^ Hurley, Amanda kolson (12 September 2014). "Amy Weinstein's New
Eastern Market Building Is Exuberantly Victorian". Washington City
Paper. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
^ "Tour of Duty:
Barracks Row Heritage Trail". Cultural Tourism DC.
City of Washington. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
^ Hermann, Peter (2017-09-01). "Isaac Fulwood, Washington police chief
during tumultuous era, dies at 77". Washington Post. Retrieved
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Capitol Hill neighborhood
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Capitol Hill.
Architect of the Capitol
Architect of the Capitol History of Capitol Hill
Architect of the Capitol
Architect of the Capitol Explore Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill Historic District
Capitol Hill Restoration Society
Places adjacent to Capitol Hill
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
Southwest Federal Center
Neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.
Mount Vernon Square
Southwest Federal Center
American University Park
North Cleveland Park
Fort Stevens Ridge
Sixteenth Street Heights
North Michigan Park
Mount Vernon Triangle
East River Heights