Shaw DC History
Shaw was originally named “Uptown.” The neighborhood grew from freed slave encampments outside the city boundaries, which ended at “Boundary Street” which we know today as Florida Avenue. The neighborhood later became known as “Shaw” for the school named for Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. It is one of several District neighborhoods that take their name from schools. Shaw was a hub for black intellectual and cultural life at the turn of the 20th century, when Howard University was chartered. In the 1920’s the neighborhood was frequented by such notables as Alain LeRoy Locke, Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington. The 1968 riots hit Shaw hard, leaving the area without electricity and many of the neighborhood’s buildings were destroyed by fire. A population drain followed, crime increased and the once thriving neighborhood wouldn’t recover for many decades. Gentrification began in Shaw during the late 1970’s and conservationists battled over neighborhood lines. The 14th and U Street Coalition accused the Dupont Circle Conservancy trying to co-opt their neighborhood and its history. Today’s Shaw remains a neighborhood in transition, with its boundary lines still being redefined. Its 19th century Victorian row houses are being protected and restored while new development from North Shaw to Truxton Circle is reshaping and restyling the area.