Remembering U Street
African-American Civil War Memorial
This photo essay, mounted on a construction fence at 13th and U Streets, chronicles the history of the area, describing the celebrities who were fond of the corridor's nightlife and performance venues, and the resident scholars, educators, politicians, and activists who contributed to the neighborhood's illustrious past.
The exhibit, funded by local businesses and foundations, is a collaboration of the Historical Society of Washington, DC, The U Street Festival Foundation, the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Many of the photos in the exhibit come from Shaw's own Robert H. McNeill, who covered the neighborhood as a newspaper photographer during the 1930's and 40s. The exhibits curator is urban historian, Kathy Schneider Smith, past president of the Washington Historical Society.
G. Byron Peck created this tribute to Shaw's most widely known resident. The 24 by 32 foot rendering of Duke Ellington watches over the community, directly above the U Street/Cardoza metro stop at 13th and U Streets, welcoming all to experience the rich history of the neighborhood. The painting was commissioned by local businesses and the Mobile Oil Corporation. Peck hired student painters through DC's summer jobs program and completed the mural in 1997. To learn about other murals in the city created by youth through the City Arts program visit their web site at www.cityartsdc.org
A memorial to the black soldiers who fought in the Civil War was officially dedicated and opened in 1999 at10th and U Streets, in the heart of the Shaw neighborhood (named after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the white commander of the black 54th Massachusetts Regiment). The monument is the first to honor the black soldiers who fought in the volunteer units. The soldiers made up about ten percent of the Union Army, yet they were excluded from victory celebrations in Washington.
Designed by sculptor Ed Hamilton (www.edhamiltonworks.com), the centerpiece depicts uniformed soldiers and a sailor going off to battle while loved ones left behind bind together for support. The sculpture is surrounded by a Wall of Honor with the names of the 209,145 United States Colored Troops (USCT) who served in the Civil War.