—Columbia Heights Heritage Trail —
Front of marker:
This block is home
to some of the largest Latino organizations in the city, all founded as migration from Central America and the Caribbean increased in the 1970s. Several began with a boost from Cavalry United Methodist Church at 1459 Columbia Road.
Since 1974 the Latin American Youth Center, now at 1419 Columbia Road, has supported youth and their families with education, employment, and social services. LAYC's Art & Media House is around the corner at 3035 15th Street. CentroNia, in the former C&P Telephone building at 1420 Columbia Road, emphasizes early education, and the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) has offered legal, housing, education, and citizenship assistance since 1981. La Clinica del Pueblo at 2831 15th Street provides affordable medical care. Most neighboring schools and churches offer bilingual or multilingual programs.
Almost 100 years before Latino groups made this their "intelligence center," renowned German immigrant Emile Berliner lived here. Berliner invented a microphone that proved crucial to the Bell telephone's operation. In 1883, he built a large house and laboratory at 1458 Columbia Road, where he also invented the gramophone (record player). With an interest in public health, Berliner founded the Bureau of Health Education and built
its headquarters at 1460 Columbia Road (now CARECEN offices).
The Fernwood apartments replaced Berliner's house in 1925. In 2000 Fernwood tenants faced eviction when the DC government condemned the building. Led by six Latinas, all named Maria, residents bought, renovated and created Las Marias Condominiums.
Back of marker:
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
[A Description of the Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail tour and acknowledgment of its creators follows.]