Capitol Hill

The neighborhood behind the Capitol

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Let’s be clear about this: the hill was here first. In 1791, when Pierre L’Enfant drew up his brilliant design for the new nation’s capital, the hill was called Jenkins Hill (Who was this Jenkins? No one knows.). L’Enfant looked at the bluff overlooking the plain below and observed that it “stands as a pedestal waiting for a monument.” The “Congress House,” i.e., the U.S. Capitol, is that monument.

Though the phrase “Capitol Hill” equates with the word “politics” in most people’s minds, Capitol Hill is actually a living, breathing, residential neighborhood of historic townhouses and old churches whose roots go back centuries. Craftsmen and laborers lived here in the early 18th century, employed at the Navy Yard in the Hill neighborhood known now as Barracks Row and in Capitol construction. A walking tour of the streets that intersect Pennsylvania Ave. and East Capitol St. gives you a glimpse of the past through its architecture.

In addition to the Capitol, the neighborhood is home to other famous landmarks, including the Supreme CourtLibrary of Congress, and Union Station. But if you really want to get a feel for hometown life in this part of town, stop by Eastern Market, eat at Good Stuff Eatery, or sip a brewski at the Tune Inn. By the way, because Eastern Market is also the name of the main Metro station for this neighborhood, locals have taken to using “Eastern Market,” rather than “Capitol Hill,” as the name for the neighborhood.

Metro: Capitol South or Eastern Market on the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines, Union Station on the Red Line.

At A Glance

Capitol Hill
Washington 20002


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