Adams Morgan

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Adams Morgan
Neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
A dozen three to four story townhouses painted bright colors line a street
Stores and cafes along 18th Street NW
Adams Morgan within the District of Columbia
Adams Morgan within the District of Columbia
Country United States
District Washington, D.C.
Ward Ward 1
 • Councilmember Brianne Nadeau
 • Total 0.47 sq mi (1.2 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 15,830
 • Density 33,601.3/sq mi (12,973.5/km2)

Adams Morgan is a neighborhood in Northwest Washington, D.C., centered at the intersection of 18th Street and Columbia Road. Adams Morgan is considered to be the center of Washington's Hispanic immigrant community and is a major night life area with many bars and restaurants, particularly along 18th Street (the primary commercial district) and Columbia Road. Much of the neighborhood is composed of 19th- and early 20th-century row houses and apartment buildings.

Adjacent to Adams Morgan is Dupont Circle to the south, Kalorama-Sheridan to the southwest, Mount Pleasant to the north, and Columbia Heights to the east. The neighborhood is bounded by Connecticut Avenue to the southwest, Rock Creek Park to the west, Harvard Street to the north, 16th Street to the east, and Florida Avenue to the south.


The name Adams Morgan – once hyphenated – is derived from the names of two formerly segregated area elementary schools — the older, all-black Thomas P. Morgan Elementary School (now defunct) and the all-white John Quincy Adams Elementary School.[1] Pursuant to the 1954 Bolling v. Sharpe Supreme Court ruling, District schools were desegregated in 1955. The Adams-Morgan Community Council, comprising both Adams and Morgan schools and the neighborhoods they served, was formed in 1958. The city drew boundaries of the neighborhood through four pre-existing neighborhoods – Washington Heights, Lanier Heights, Kalorama Triangle Historic District and Meridian Hill – naming the resulting area after both schools.[2]

Throughout the 20th century, the Adams Morgan community has also stood on behalf of social justice, political activism, and inclusive, progressive values. Nearby All Souls Unitarian Church, the Potter's House cafe and bookstore, and Meridian Hill Park have all served as gathering places for activists dedicated to social change, and also function as civic centers of the greater community. [3]

In the late 1960s, a group of residents organized and worked with city officials to plan and construct a new elementary school and recreational complex that was conceived as a community hub, a concept that 40 years later has become a favored one in public school facilities design. The development was named the Marie H. Reed Learning Center after Bishop Reed, a community activist, minister and leader. It featured a daycare center, tennis and basketball courts, a solar-heated swimming pool, health clinic, athletic field and outdoor chess tables.

From 2010 to 2012, one of the neighborhood's main commercial corridors, 18th Street NW, was reconstructed[4] with wider sidewalks, more crosswalks and bicycle sharrows. As part of the upgrades all of the mature trees on the street were cut down.

Cultural diversity[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1950 21,000
1960 18,097 −13.8%
1970 18,573 2.6%
1980 15,352 −17.3%
1990 15,061 −1.9%
2000 14,803 −1.7%
2010 15,830 6.9%
Lively music often accompanies Adams Morgan Day festivals.

Along with its adjacent sister communities to the north and east, Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan long has been a gateway community for immigrants. Since the 1960s, the predominant international presence in both communities has been Latino, with the majority of immigrants coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries. Since the early 1970s, like other areas of the nation, Adams Morgan had seen a growing influx of immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, as well. Gentrification and the resulting high cost of housing, however, have displaced many immigrants and long-time African American residents, particularly those with young children, as well as many small businesses, but the community still retains a degree of diversity, most evident in its array of international shops and restaurants.[citation needed] In the five-square-block area where most of the commercial establishments are located, one can choose from a variety of ethnic cuisines, among them Spanish, Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Mexican, Nepalese, Italian, Dutch, Vietnamese, Ghanaian, Cajun, Brazilian, Palestinian, Peruvian, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, Eritrean, and Chinese.

Shops located along 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan
Aerial view of 18th Street

Adams Morgan also has become a thriving spot for night life, with a number of bars and clubs featuring live music. Over 90 establishments possess liquor licenses, putting it on level with other popular nightlife areas like Georgetown and Dupont Circle. Local stores along the 18th Street corridor were rapidly replaced with late-night establishments, leading to a moratorium on new liquor licenses by the Alcohol Beverage Control Board in 2000 after successful lobbying by resident groups. The moratorium was renewed in 2004, but eased to allow new restaurant licenses.

Despite the exodus of many immigrant, as well as African-American residents from Adams Morgan caused by high housing costs, a nexus of long-time institutions, many established specifically to meet the needs of Latinos and other non English-speaking residents, continues to serve as a magnet for immigrants and their families. Adams Morgan is home to Mary's Center, a clinic focusing on healthcare delivery to Spanish-speaking patients, and the Latino Economic Development Corporation, as well as numerous businesses and churches that employ and cater to immigrants. Adjacent Mt. Pleasant also hosts a number of commercial enterprises, social service agencies and other institutions that help to anchor local immigrants to the area.

Another barometer of the enduring pull of Adams Morgan for immigrants is the linguistic and cultural diversity of its public schools. Many of the families served live beyond the boundaries established for routine student enrollment; however, Adams, Reed, and H.D. Cooke elementary schools all have international populations, with children from well over 30 nations in attendance. Latino and African-American children comprise the majority of students in the public schools, and virtually all are children of color.

The second Sunday of September, the neighborhood hosts the Adams Morgan Day Festival, a multicultural street celebration with live music and food and crafts booths. And, weather permitting, every Saturday — except during the coldest winter months — local growers sell fresh, organically grown produce and herbs; baked and canned goods; cheeses; cold-pressed apple juice and fresh flowers at the farmers market, in operation in the same location on a plaza at the corner of 18th and Columbia Road for more than 30 years.

A man dressed up at Adams Morgan Day Festival in 2013

In the 1960s, the neighborhood's attractions included the Avignon Freres bakery and restaurant (this closed in the 1990s), the Café Don restaurant, the Ontario motion picture theater, and the Showboat Lounge jazz nightclub. In the 1980s, Hazel's featured live blues and jazz. Its soul food offerings made it a favorite of black jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie when they came to town.

In September 2014, the American Planning Association named Adams Morgan one of the nation's "great neighborhoods", citing its intact Victorian rowhouses, murals, international diversity, and pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly streetscape.[5]


The area is not directly served by the Metrorail system. The station nearest the heart of Adams Morgan, Woodley Park (Red Line), is in the Woodley Park neighborhood, but was renamed "Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan" in 1999 to reflect the station's proximity to Adams Morgan. The station was renamed "Woodley Park" with "Zoo/Adams Morgan" as a subtitle in 2011.[6] The southernmost parts of the neighborhood below Rock Creek Park are closer to the Dupont Circle (Red Line) station. The nearest station on the Green and Yellow Line is Columbia Heights. In March 2009, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) began operating a DC Circulator bus route connecting the center of Adams Morgan with both Metro stations. The area is also served by a number of WMATA Metrobus lines, including the 42, 43, 90, 92, 93, 96, H1, L1 and L2.


Adams Morgan is in the service area of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C, the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission. The ANC covers the area between Harvard St. and Rock Creek to the north, Florida Ave. and U St. to the south, 16th St. to the east, and Connecticut Ave. to the west.[7]

Federal government[edit]

The Civil Aeronautics Board had its headquarters in the Universal Building in Adams Morgan.[8][9] The agency had moved there by May 1959.[10]


Adams Campus of the Oyster Adams Bilingual School, formerly John Quincy Adams Elementary School

The District of Columbia Public Schools is the public school system. Oyster Adams Bilingual School, the neighborhood K-8 school, was formed in 2007 by the merger of John Quincy Adams Elementary School in Adams Morgan and James F. Oyster Bilingual Elementary School in Woodley Park.[11] The Adams campus serves grades 4-8 and the Oyster campus serves grades Pre-Kindergarten through 3.[12] Marie Reed Elementary School, an elementary school in Adams Morgan, opened in 1977.[13]

Residents are zoned to Marie Reed Elementary, Oyster Adams K-8,[14] and Woodrow Wilson High School.[15]

In popular culture[edit]

The annual Adams Morgan Day is held in September.

In Showtime series Homeland Season 3, Episode 4 ("Game On"), the main character Carrie Mathison states that she lives in Adams Morgan.

Scenes from the 2010 movie How Do You Know featuring Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon were filmed in Adams Morgan.[16]

The Adams Morgan bar Chief Ike's Mambo Room was a filming location for episodes of the George Clooney–produced 2003 HBO series K Street.

California Representative Gary Condit, suspected at one point in the murder of Chandra Levy, lived on Adams Mill Road in Adams Morgan while he was a congressman and during his affair with the intern.

Writer Nora Ephron and journalist Carl Bernstein lived for many years directly after Watergate in The Ontario Apartments in Adams Morgan, and Ephron wrote her book Heartburn about their time as a married couple in the building.

The neighorhood's competing "jumbo slice" pizza establishments have been covered extensively by local media and an episode of Travel Channel's Food Wars.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kuan, Diana (2007-01-28). "U Street, Adams Morgan humming again". The Boston Globe. 
  2. ^ Neighborhoods, History & Boundaries of Adams Morgan
  3. ^ Smith, Kathryn Schneider (2010). Washington at Home: An Illustrated History of Neighborhoods in the Nation's Capital. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 439. ISBN 9780801893537. 
  4. ^ Rude, Justin (2012-07-27). "Explore the new Adams Morgan with our neighborhood guide". The Washington Post. 
  5. ^ Neibauer, Michael (October 1, 2014). "Pennsylvania Avenue Is A 'Great Street' Indeed, and In Need". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Station names updated for new map" (Press release). Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. 2011-11-03. Archived from the original on 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  7. ^ What is an ANC?
  8. ^ "Sorbitol from France: determination of the Commission in investigation no. 731-TA-44 (final) under the Tariff Act of 1930, together with the information obtained in the investigation" (Volume 1233 of USITC publication). United States International Trade Commission, 1982. p. A-42. "Civil Aeronautics Board, 1825 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C."
  9. ^ The Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964. p. 370. "[...]office hours at the Board's Docket Section. Room 711, Universal Building, 1825 Connecticut Avenue NW., Washington, D.C."
  10. ^ Flying Magazine. May 1959. Vol. 64, No. 5. ISSN 0015-4806. p. 98. "UNDER ONE ROOF at last, the Civil Aeronautics Board is now quartered in the Universal Building, 1825 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington"
  11. ^ "About Us" (Archive). Oyster Adams Bilingual Elementary School. Retrieved on November 6, 2014.
  12. ^ Home. Oyster Adams Bilingual School. Retrieved on September 29, 2016.
  13. ^ "Marie Reed Elementary School Project." District of Columbia Public Schools. Retrieved on October 3, 2016.
  14. ^ "Attendance Zones for Neighborhood Elementary & K-8 Schools S.Y. 2013-2014" (Archive). District of Columbia Public Schools. Retrieved on April 14, 2015.
  15. ^ "Attendance Zones for Neighborhood High Schools S.Y. 2013-2014" (Archive). District of Columbia Public Schools. Retrieved on April 14, 2015.
  16. ^!i=572901986&k=hdnnVsD
  17. ^ Jamieson, Dave (November 5, 2004). "The Big Cheese". Washington City Paper. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  18. ^ Jamie R. Liu (April 3, 2010). "Travel Channel's Food Wars Takes on D.C.'s Jumbo Slice". DCist. Gothamist LLC. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°55′21″N 77°02′34″W / 38.92261°N 77.042661°W / 38.92261; -77.042661