Home-style Ethiopian food, offbeat boutiques, and live music are fueling the revival of the U Street area. Just a few years back, this neighborhood was surviving on memories of its heyday as a center of black culture and jazz music in the first half of the 20th century.
The neighborhood was especially vibrant from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it was home to jazz genius Duke Ellington, social activist Mary McLeod Bethune, and poets Langston Hughes and Georgia Douglas Johnson. The area's nightclubs hosted Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Sarah Vaughn. In the 1950s Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, then still a lawyer, organized the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case at the 12th Street YMCA. Now this diverse neighborhood has experienced a lively resurgence of culture, nightlife, and renovation of many historic buildings—and the crowds are back.