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Washington's U Street

A Biography

Blair A. Ruble

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This book traces the history of the U Street neighborhood in Washington, D.C., from its Civil War–era origins to its recent gentrification.

Home throughout the years to important scholars, entertainers, and political figures, as well as to historically prominent African American institutions, Washington’s U Street neighborhood is a critical zone of contact between black and white America. Howard University and the Howard Theater are both located there; Duke Ellington grew up in the neighborhood; and diplomat Ralph Bunche, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and medical researcher Charles...

This book traces the history of the U Street neighborhood in Washington, D.C., from its Civil War–era origins to its recent gentrification.

Home throughout the years to important scholars, entertainers, and political figures, as well as to historically prominent African American institutions, Washington’s U Street neighborhood is a critical zone of contact between black and white America. Howard University and the Howard Theater are both located there; Duke Ellington grew up in the neighborhood; and diplomat Ralph Bunche, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and medical researcher Charles Drew were all members of the community.

This robustly diverse neighborhood included residents of different races and economic classes when it arose during the Civil War. Jim Crow laws came to the District after the Compromise of 1877, and segregation followed in the mid-1880s. Over the next century, U Street emerged as an energetic center of African American life in Washington. The mid-twentieth-century rise of cultural and educational institutions brought with it the establishment of African American middle and elite classes, ironically fostering biases within the black community. Later, with residential desegregation, many of the elites moved on and U Street entered decades of decline, suffered rioting in 1968, but has seen an initially fitful resurgence that has recently taken hold.

Blair A. Ruble, a jazz aficionado, prominent urbanist, and longtime resident of Washington, D.C., is uniquely equipped to undertake the history of this culturally important area. His work is a rare instance of original research told in an engaging and compelling voice.

Reviews

Reviews

Complete with personal profiles of past and present DC luminaries, known locally and nationally, in more than 300 pages of text Ruble takes the reader on a journey of U Street's history from its initial development following the arrival of runaway slaves to the city during the Civil War to President Obama's visit to the landmark Ben's Chili Bowl.

Straightforward tale about the District’s history with African Americans at the center.

[Ruble] weaves the historical tale of the area with profiles of its major personalities, including Howard University founder Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, former Mayor Marion Barry and Radio One Inc. founder Cathy Hughes... After all, it's a lot more than a place to get a half-smoke.

This is a wonderful book... Washington's U Street: A Biography is a meritorious study of a subject of considerable historical importance. Thank you, Mr. Ruble.

His research is impeccable... very readable and entertaining.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
432
ISBN
9781421405940
Illustration Description
31 halftones
Table of Contents

List of Profiles
List of Maps
List of Figures
Preface
Introduction: Washington's Contact Zone
1. Ambiguous Roots
2. A City "Like the South"
3. Confronting the Nation
4. "Black Broadway"
5. The Last Colony
6

List of Profiles
List of Maps
List of Figures
Preface
Introduction: Washington's Contact Zone
1. Ambiguous Roots
2. A City "Like the South"
3. Confronting the Nation
4. "Black Broadway"
5. The Last Colony
6. Chocolate City
7. "The New You"
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Blair A. Ruble

Blair A. Ruble is director of the Kennan Institute and co-chair of the Comparative Urban Studies Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is the author, most recently, of Second Metropolis: Pragmatic Pluralism in Gilded Age Chicago, Silver Age Moscow, and Meiji Osaka.