Sixteenth Street Heights

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Map of Washington, D.C., with Sixteenth Street Heights highlighted in maroon.

Sixteenth Street Heights is a large neighborhood of rowhouses, duplexes, and American Craftsman and American Foursquare detached houses in Northwest Washington, D.C..


Definitions of Sixteenth Street Heights' boundaries vary, although it can be broadly outlined by 16th Street on the west, Georgia Avenue on the east, Missouri Avenue to the north, and Arkansas Avenue to the south.[1] The 16th Street Heights Tax Assessment Neighborhood is defined as 16th Street on the west, Missouri Avenue on the north, Georgia Avenue on the east, and Upshur Street on the south.[2][3] However, it is also common to view Kennedy Street or Longfellow Street as the northern border of 16th Street Heights. All of 16th Street Heights lies within ZIP code 20011.

Adjoining neighborhoods include:


  • S1, S2, and S4 Metrobus lines run north-south along 16th Street.
  • 52 and 54 Metrobus lines run north-south along 14th Street.
  • 70 and 79 Metrobus lines run north-south along Georgia Avenue.
  • E2, E3, and E4 Metrobus lines run along Military Road west of 14th Street, north-south along 14th Street, and along Kennedy Street west of 14th Street.


Sixteenth Street Heights is one of the most demographically diverse neighborhoods in the city.[citation needed] The homes along 16th Street and its surrounding corridor are primarily owned by affluent residents; in contrast, the commercial corridors of 14th Street and Georgia Avenue cater to middle- and lower-middle-class Hispanic and African American customers.[citation needed] Historically, the initial generation of residents was largely Jewish Caucasians. In the 1960s, the neighborhood became mostly African-American.[1][4]

Sixteenth Street Heights has seen a tremendous transformation in recent years. Houses on every street are being renovated both inside and out.[1] Many young families have moved there for the diverse housing stock and for the proximity to Carter Barron Amphitheater and Rock Creek Park. They also come because homes in Sixteenth Street Heights tend to be more affordable than similar ones in many other neighborhoods in DC and close-in suburbs.

Commercial Areas[edit]

Unlike the neighboring areas of Brightwood, Columbia Heights, and Petworth, 16th Street Heights has minimal commercial districts. Aside from a handful of corner shops in other areas of the neighborhood, businesses are confined to Georgia Avenue, 14th Street between Buchanan Street and Decatur Street, and the area surrounding the intersection of 14th Street, Colorado Avenue, and Kennedy Street. The Columbia Heights business district also extends up to Shepherd Street in the southern end of the neighborhood. Many residents find that they end up driving elsewhere for most of their shopping.[1]

The 14th and Colorado area was once home to a popular restaurant, Colorado Kitchen,[5] and Twins Lounge, a notable jazz club. However, both have closed.[6]


Over 45 churches line 16th Street between Silver Spring, Maryland, and Lafayette Square. In 2008, the LDS Church bought a convent on 1.5 acres (6,100 m2) at the corner of 16th Street and Emerson Street and demolished it. They seek to build a meetinghouse on the site with an 105-foot (32 m) steeple. Neighborhood outcry has been fierce, with many residents displaying lawn signs that read, "Too Big, Too Much, Too Many." Opponents of the church seek to extend southward the Sixteenth Street Heights overlay zone.[7] Currently, that overlay zone extends from Military Road to Colorado Avenue and restricts non-residential uses and associated parking by requiring Board of Zoning Adjustment approval.[3][8] After much discussion, approval was granted to build the church, which was completed in October 2012 and two Mormon congregations (the Washington DC 3rd Ward and the Mount Pleasant Spanish-speaking Branch) moved into their new meeting house.


Sixteenth Street Heights is adjacent to Rock Creek Park, a 1,754-acre (7.1 km2) national park that bisects the District of Columbia. Park facilities near 16th Street Heights include the Carter Barron Amphitheater and the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center, which is the home of the Citi Open tournament (formerly Legg Mason Tennis Classic).[9]

The Hamilton Recreation Center at 1340 Hamilton Street features a 60-foot (18 m) by 40-foot (12 m) athletic field, a basketball court, a playground, and a small multi-purpose room.[10] The Upshur Recreation Center at 4300 Arkansas Avenue features a baseball/softball field, two basketball courts, a computer lab, a kitchen, a medium-sized multi-purpose room, a playground, and a swimming pool.[11] Finally, the Twin Oaks Community Garden is at 1425 Taylor Street. Forty plots are available to reserve, and the garden hosts a Junior Master Gardener Program.[12][13][14]


A part of Washington County until passage of the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, Sixteenth Street Heights was developed as a series of subdivisions.

Streetcar lines on 14th Street and Georgia Avenue accelerated the growth of the area. The 14th Street line, which originally stopped at Park Road, was extended in late 1906 for the purpose of spurring growth in the area.[15][16] Two historic streetcar facilities are currently used for Metrobus: the Capital Traction Company car barn at 4615 14th Street, NW, is now the Northern Division garage, and the 14th and Colorado turnaround is the terminal for some 52, 53, and 54 buses.

Saul's Addition[edit]

Much of 16th Street Heights was once part of Maple Grove Farm, an 80-acre (320,000 m2) nursery acquired in May 1854 by John Hennessy Saul, who led improvements of the Mall, Capitol, and White House grounds.[17] By 1892, Saul's son, Bernard Francis Saul, founded the B.F. Saul Company to sell land in individual lots and take notes as mortgages to speed the sale.[18]

The subdivision known as Saul's Addition was generally bounded by Buchanan Street, Piney Branch Road, Gallatin Street, and Georgia Avenue. Two public buildings were planned: the John Dickson Home for Aged Men (now occupied by the Kingsbury Center) and West Elementary School (which has been replaced by a modern building on the same site).[15]

Numerous restrictions were put in the deeds of Saul's Addition lots. Some, including the requirement that all homes be fully detached and the prohibition of commercial and multifamily buildings, remain largely in effect through zoning laws. Others have been dropped or ruled illegal, such as the restriction on the sale of lots to people of color, which was struck down in 1948 by the Supreme Court in Shelley v. Kraemer.[19]

Fourteenth Street Terrace[edit]

The area to the north of Saul's Addition was subdivided as Fourteenth Street Terrace. While similar to Saul's Addition, the deeds did not prohibit semi-detached houses, and many duplexes can been seen on the 1300 blocks of Gallatin, Hamilton, and Ingraham Streets.[15]


Sixteenth Street Heights and the rest of Ward 4 were represented in the Council of the District of Columbia by Muriel Bowser until she became mayor in 2015. Most of Sixteenth Street Heights lies within Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C.

Three neighborhood organizations serve 16th Street Heights: the 16th Street Neighborhood Association, the Carter Barron East Neighborhood Association, whose boundaries are Decatur Street to the South, Longfellow Street to the North and 13th Street to the East,(contact: and the 16th Street Heights Civic Association.[1] The community is also served by the Friends of the 16th street heights parks.

Former Chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools Michelle Rhee used to lived in the neighborhood in a Victorian house.[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e Gebhardt, Sara (2 February 2008). "Hazy on Borders, Residents Are Sure of 16th Street Heights". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  2. ^ "DC Citizens Atlas". DC Citizens Atlas. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "DC Citizen Atlas". Government of the District of Columbia. Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  4. ^ Sadler, Aaron (15 June 2008). "Street named for state has its own distinct flavor". Arkansas News (Stephens Media). Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  5. ^ Washington Post Colorado Kitchen
  6. ^ DCist: Curtains for Colorado Kitchen
  7. ^ Schwartzman, Paul (24 May 2008). "Full Up, Fed Up On God's Avenue". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  8. ^ District of Columbia Office of Zoning (7 July 2006). "Summary of Overlay Districts". Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  9. ^ Clarke, Liz (April 24, 2012). "Other Sports". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  10. ^ D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. "Hamilton Recreation Center". Department of Parks and Recreation: Recreation Centers. Retrieved 1 January 2009. [dead link]
  11. ^ D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. "Upshur Recreation Center". Department of Parks and Recreation: Recreation Centers. Retrieved 1 January 2009. [dead link]
  12. ^ Lara, Kat, and Liz, The Garden Cyclers (25 June 2007). "DC's First Annual Community Garden Bicycle Hop". DC Urban Gardener News. D.C. Urban Gardener Association. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  13. ^ Greene, Moses Alexander (30 May 2008). "DPR Celebrates Summer Gardening - Community Garden Kick-Off This Saturday and Community Garden Plots Available for Reservation". D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  14. ^ Bruske, Ed (12 April 2008). "Approved D.C. Master Gardener Projects". DC Urban Gardener News. D.C. Urban Gardener Association. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  15. ^ a b c "Saul's Addition Snug Little City". The Washington Times. 19 November 1910. p. 12. 
  16. ^ "150 New Dwellings in Saul's Addition". The Washington Times. 17 April 1909. p. 13. 
  17. ^ "Saul, John (1819-1897)". Biographies of American Seedsmen and Nurserymen. Smithsonian Institution Libraries. 29 August 2001. Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  18. ^ B.F. Saul Company. "B.F. Saul Company History". Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  19. ^ "District of Columbia Appropriation Bill, 1917", Hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, Sixty-fourth Congress, first session, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1916's%20addition%22&pg=PA287#v=onepage&q=%22saul's%20addition%22&f=false  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Glover, Mary Clare (February 1, 2008). "Chancellor Rhee Buys $850,000 Madison Street Victorian". Washingtonian. 

Coordinates: 38°56′56″N 77°01′58″W / 38.9488°N 77.0327°W / 38.9488; -77.0327