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Neighborhood History

Adams Morgan, long considered one of the most diverse communities in Washington, DC, was and continues to be a pace setter for dynamic Washington communities. One guide book decribed the community as a mixture of Jewish, White, African American, Africa, and Hispanic entrepreneurs working and living alongside government civil servants, liberal and conservative activists, and artists in one community.

Adams Morgan was once simply known as "18th and Columbia," which referred to its major crossroads. The community that we now call Adams Morgan is one of the many by-products of the desegregation of the schools in the South. The new name came from the two elementary schools which were initially segregated, but moved to a peaceful and quiet desegregation because the black and white communities of Adams Morgan built upon a trust that had existed before desegregation. In furtherance of their efforts, they formally created the Adams Morgan Better Neighborhood Conference, which became the active instrument by which the neighborhood was spared several potentially catastrophic developments that might have destroyed the community.

The community prospered in the period after WWI, and continued to prosper until the 1960s. THe growth of the suburbs and the desire for more land and space coupled with the urban unrest of the period saw a large exodus of many affluent families. Their exodus paved the way for a younger audience, the boomers, who flocked to the area in the years following the 1960s. Artists, musicians, and anti-establishment groups found a refuge in the period.

Those that settled in Adams Morgan during this period liked the community's diversity, its cheaper rents, and lower housing prices, and began to settle here on a more permanent level. The large amount of available rental units were slowly but surely converted to cooperatives and condominiums, and the relatively inexpensive housing stock became highly prized housing for urban professionals.

Today, Adams Morgan, like many DC communities, is diverse, but less so than it was in its earlier periods, and it has lost much of its inexpensive housing and apartment stock to the new realities of the marketplace. Its townhouses and apartments are highly sought by those wishing to enjoy urban living.

Its international shops and restaurant and its extensive nightlife continues to make it a destination for visitors from outside the city and residents of DC.


The History committee of the Envision Adams Morgan project curates this timeline, adding stories to the timeline to illustrate key events in our neighborhood history. If you have something to contribute to this collective history - photos, videos, stories, recollections - please send an email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DC Office of Planning - Adams Morgan Vision Framework

As a follow up to our work, the DC Office of Planning conducted a series of community meetings to flesh out a vision for the neightborhood that builds on the efforts of Envision Adams Morgan. They have released their final Adams Morgan Vision Framework document to guide future development and community efforts.

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