—Columbia Heights Heritage Trail —
Front of Marker:
of 14th Street and Park Road has been the center of community life since at least 1871, when the neighborhood was called Mount Pleasant and storekeeper George Emery made his living on the northwest corner to your left. Emery's emporium, the first on upper 14th Street, marked the end of the line for the horse-drawn omnibus (coach) that carried residents to the Treasury and other points downtown. "Its stock ranged all the way from mowing machines to dry goods," wrote Emery's son Fred.
In 1892 the Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company began running electric streetcars up 14th Street to your left. After the line was extended in 1907, investors, including gramophone inventor and neighbor Emile Berliner, transformed the car barn into the Arcade, a combination market and amusement park.
Best known for its street-level vendor stalls, the Arcade over time boasted a movie theater, sports arena, bowling alleys, skating rink, and dance hall upstairs, not to mention carnival fun in the Japanese Maze and the House of Trouble. "The big Arcade building was crowded from end to end with one of the happiest throngs imaginable," wrote the Washington Post
about opening night.
In November 1925 the newly organized American Basketball Association inducted DC's
Palace Five. The Five (also called the "Laundrymen" for their first sponsor, Palace Laundry) played their first home-court Big League game at the Arcade. Some 2,500 fans watched them beat the Brooklyn Five, 18 to 17.
More than 200 years ago, city planner Pierre Charles L'Enfant designed a new capital city on the low coastal plain at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, bordered on the north by a steep hill. Today the hill defines Columbia Heights.
Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail
takes you on a tour of the lively neighborhood that began as a remote suburb of Washington City. Over time, transportation innovations, starting with streetcars, made Columbia Heights accessible and desirable. Soon, men and women of every background populated the neighborhood, people who changed the world with new technology, revolutionary ideas, literature, laws, and leadership. From the low point of the civil disturbances of 1968, Columbia Heights turned to resident leaders and rose again. Metrorail's arrival in 1999 provided a boost, reviving the historically important 14th Street commercial corridor. Experience both the new and old Columbia Heights, with all its cultural and economic diversity, as you talk this walk.
[A Description of the Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail tour
and acknowledgment of its creators follows.]