First, let’s get the spelling correct: Dupont, not duPont or DuPont. Just to confuse you, the circle’s namesake did spell his name Du Pont. Samuel Francis DuPont was a rear admiral and Civil War naval hero, whose statue used to stand at the center of what is now the Dupont Circle traffic circle. The statue was removed in 1921 to a park in DuPont’s home state of Delaware.
Centering Dupont Circle ever since is this gorgeous fountain designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French, who carved classical figures of wind, stars and sea into the stone.
Dupont’s is different from most other of DC’s traffic rounds in that it’s a living, breathing urban park. Chess matches are always in progress at tables lining the periphery and all sorts of folks, at all hours, sprawl upon the benches and the base of the fountain. Peoplewatching is prime. The expansive circle is the site of outdoor concerts, epic snowball battles, yoga classes, political protests, and, from time to time, drunken brawls.
Dupont Circle is also the name of the surrounding neighborhood, where gilded mansions of the late 19th and early 20th century have been transformed into embassies (Embassy Row is an extension of this neighborhood) and old townhouses along the shaded side streets often house art galleries and boutique shops. Small museums like the Phillips Collection, charming restaurants like the Tabard Inn’s, one-of-a-kind bars like Russia House, and local legends like Kramerbooks, are part of the artful mix that endow the neighborhood with its own mellow feel.
Dupont Circle serves as ground zero for the city’s thriving LGBTQ world. If you’re here on the Tuesday before Halloween, don’t miss the annual Drag Queen High Heel Race, which takes place on 17th St.
The traffic circle lies at the juncture of 19th and P streets, and New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts avenues in northwest DC, and the neighborhood radiates from that center.
Metro: Dupont Circle on the Red Line.