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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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District Patchwork: Columbia Heights

Brimming with a diverse range of award-winning restaurants and a plentiful number of shops, alongside intricately designed Victorian rowhouses, lies the lively neighborhood of Columbia Heights. Welcome readers to the second edition of District Patchwork, our monthly exploration of the patches of our beloved city, Washington DC! 

     Columbia Heights is located in Northwest DC, centered on 14th and U street. The neighborhood began to form in the late 1800s, soon after the Civil War. It was a predominantly African American community but was later segregated in the 1920s when white upper-middle classmen began flocking to the area. Quickly, many parts of the neighborhood became divided. Later, in the 60s, in response to Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, riots devastated Columbia Heights, resulting in much of the neighborhood’s business being burned or looted. Many closed and Columbia Heights headed further into a wave of poverty.

However, over time the evolving neighborhood managed to rebuild themselves as a community, developing social services and community-based art organizations. Affordable rent attracted new immigrants and a stronger neighborhood was established.

Today, Columbia Heights is an active, diverse middle-class neighborhood that offers a pleasant urban feel. The restaurant scene is better than ever, with no shortage of options whether you’d like to sit down in a cozy atmosphere for a slice of wood-fired pizza at Redrocks or just want to grab a bubble tea from DC Boba. Other notable hotspots include cafés like the Coupe for a warm cup of hot chocolate or a sweet crepe at Coffy’s Café. If you would like a more savory option, visit Bad Saint for Filipino cuisine which is ranked as “one of the best new restaurants in America” by Bon Appetit. Some other options include Chipotle, El Chucho, Pho 14, Letena, Starbucks, and Cava.

Columbia Heights is a very accessible neighborhood; in that it has public transit including buses and the metro. Some public schools are Tubman Elementary School, Columbia Heights Education Campus, and Columbia Heights High School, to provide a common place for the youth of DC to learn to lead successful futures.

When it comes to shopping in Columbia Heights, there is so much condensed within this neighborhood, particularly around Tivoli Square where community is often brought together.

While a shopping center includes standard stores like Target, Marshalls and Giant, this neighborhood is bustling with eclectic thrift stores like Rosarios along with energetic music venues like the 930 Club and the Atlantis, which provide no shortage of new live music to discover. Tivoli Theatre is a historic landmark which holds live productions as a non-profit to show Hispanic Culture through the Arts. In Tivoli Square, there are various communal groups like drum circles and a farmers’ market.

  Columbia Heights is a neighborhood that has risen from conflict and created a one-of-a-kind place to live where generations and cultures have been brought together. It holds so many gems within our city to explore, from its beautiful historic architecture to its music and food scene. So, if any of this sounds appealing, come pay Columbia Heights a visit!

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    Francine FerskoJan 17, 2024 at 5:27 pm

    Enjoyed reading about this fascinating area! So well written, I was able to understand the roots of the population living there as well as all that is offered by this neighborhood.