The Penn Quarter is one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhood, alive day and night with cultural, entertainment, business-world, dining, bar-hopping, and shopping activities. It’s a swathe of downtown, but people live here, too, which adds deeper character to the area.
Starting in the 1800s, 7th St. was the route that linked Maryland farms to the wharves of the Potomac River. From 1801 to the 1930s, this area was Washington’s commercial hub; an enormous public market stood where the National Archives building stands now. During the Civil War, Union troops moved into and out of the city via 7th St.
Across the street from the Capital One Arena is a gorgeous mid-19th century building; now the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, it was originally the Patent Building and used as a hospital during the Civil War. Across from the museum is the building that housed the city’s first General Post Office, now the Hotel Monaco. Up one block from the arena is the strip of H Street that lays claim to what remains of Chinatown.
Elsewhere throughout the neighborhood are many more historic structures, including Ford’s Theatre and the National Building Museum . The neighborhood also houses the popular International Spy Museum, the Shakespeare Theatre; Zaytinya; Jaleo and other great restaurants.
The Penn Quarter occupies the northwest downtown area that runs south to north between Pennsylvania Ave. and Massachusetts Ave. and east-west between 5th and 15th streets.
Metro: Metro Center on the Silver, Red, Blue, and Orange Lines; Gallery Place-Chinatown on the Red, Yellow, and Green Lines; and Navy Memorial-National Archives-Penn Quarter on the Yellow and Green Lines.