Capitol Hill, Washington DC

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Capitol Hill is the vibrant back yard to the stage of our nation. Whether the unique restaurants offering tastes from all around the world, the multitude of green parks, the Smithsonians, or the newly-built libraries, it’s easy to find a home for yourself and new ideas in the diverse and welcoming community. Some of the government’s most powerful edifices – the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and the U.S. House and Senate – make their homes on this famed incline, where Instagram-ready views of the Capitol Dome come at almost every turn.

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The Historical Hustle


In 1791, Pierre (Peter) Charles L’Enfant was given the responsibility of choosing the location of the new federal capital. He chose a small, 80-foot high hill near the center of Washington DC and began by calling it “Jenkins Hill”. A couple of years later, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson changed the name to Capitol Hill instead.

The area was slowly developed and eventually completed in 1800, where the capital has remained ever since.

During the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, additional work was done to further establish the area. New buildings were quickly constructed including hospitals and more government offices. One of the biggest times of residential development came between the 1870s and 1880s.

Capitol Hill has long stood as a strong middle-class neighborhood in Washington DC. The Capitol Hill Historic District is among the largest in the country and has also been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Capitol Hill is the largest and oldest residential community in Washington; and, with roughly 35,000 people in just under two square miles, it is also one of the most densely populated. Capitol Hill stretches east, north and south beginning at the United States Capitol. The Capitol Hill neighborhood occupies two quadrants of the city _ Southeast and Northeast _ and a large portion is now designated as the Capitol Hill historic district. The name Capitol Hill is often used to refer to both the historic district and to the larger neighborhood around it. To the east of Capitol Hill lies the Anacostia River, to the north is the H Street corridor, to the south are the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and the Washington Navy Yard, and to the west are the National Mall and the city’s central business district.

Most people across America have heard of Capitol Hill in Washington DC because the American landmark has played a pivotal role in the country’s history for hundreds of years. Known for being the location of the United States Congress, Capitol Hill is the destination for members of the Senate as well as the House of Representatives and other political workers. But Capitol Hill isn’t only a historic area for politics and congress. It is also one of the highest residential population densities in the US at nearly 15,000 people per square mile in its miniscule 1.93 square miles.

While many of the apartment buildings across the area were built during the 1900s or 2000s, most of the single-family homes in Capitol Hill date back to the 1800s. This gives them a unique look that you won’t find in most cities around the country. Housing in Capitol Hill is much more expensive than the Washington DC average

A View of Capitol Hill

Things to do on Capitol Hill


Eastern Market

Since it was opened in 1873, the Eastern Market is one of the most popular places to go shopping in Capitol Hill. Shoppers will find a huge assortment of produce, healthy foods, crafts, and other neat stands around the marketplace.

Jenkins Row

Jenkins Row is a recently developed residential space and shopping area in Capitol Hill that is still bringing in more new businesses.

Trapeze School New York

Channel your inner circus performer. If the idea of jumping off a 23-foot-high platform has you shaking in your safety belt, skip trapeze and learn another skill, such as trampoline, juggling, or acrobatic partner-balancing. Trapeze School New York’s local branch offers kids a special one-day circus experience as well as summer camps, culminating in performances for proud parents.

Nationals Park

Since it opened in 2008, Nationals Park has helped springboard surrounding Navy Yard into the fastest-growing neighborhood in DC. The stadium seems to evolve every season along with its environs. This year’s additions include a mojito cart, gourmet tater tots at the new food stall See You Tater, and MLB’s Ballpark app—download it to your phone and get special deals (such as upgraded seats), order concessions without waiting in line, and play along with your favorite Racing Presidents.

Washington Nationals Mascot

Photo: Mitchell Layton, Sports Illustrated

Places to Explore in Capitol Hill

  • Most cities across the country have local parks, but few compare to the spectacular beauty of the US Capitol Grounds. Among the best things to do in Capitol Hill, park visitors can wander over 270 acres of land with the United States Capitol and other federal buildings as the backdrop.

  • As the world’s largest library, the Library of Congress is one of Capitol Hill’s top places to visit. It has more than 170 million items within its collection, including more than 24 million cataloged books. As a research library, visitors come from all over the world to see the spectacular sight of these collections and to read books on-site. This impressive 1897 Thomas Jefferson building is open for tours that reveal its Italian-Renaissance style architecture and gilt murals, plus the stunning, circular main reading room with its 160-foot-high ceiling.

  • Tour the U.S. Capitol via its impressive visitors center, where guides lead small groups under the intricately painted, 180-plus-foot dome and past the dimly lit Old Supreme Court Chamber. You’ll need a reservation for the tour or to visit Congress or the Senate (when they are in session); for the latter, just contact your senator or house representative.

  • The Folger Shakespeare Library hosts the world’s largest collection of the author’s timeless works.

  • The glassed-in U.S. Botanic Garden at the base of Capitol Hill, holds palms, ferns and orchids, providing a peaceful escape.

  • Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital: This cultural center brought new life to a vacant building that once was a naval hospital for veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American wars. You’ll find classes and programs as diverse as Cambodian cooking, sewing basics for kids, readings, and meditation.

  • Marine Barracks Friday Parades: A rare opportunity to see the lovely grounds of the Marine Barracks, these free summer-evening performances feature the President’s Own Marine Band, the Drum and Bugle Corps, the color guard, the silent drill platoon, and Chesty XIV, the bulldog mascot.

  • The Miracle Theatre: This 1909 vaudeville and silent-film house reopened with 1920s seats, pressed-tin ceilings, and a balcony. Owned by National Community Church, it features almost-new movies like La La Land and favorites such as The Princess Bride, heavy on family-friendly fare. Showings Friday through Sunday.

  • Washington Navy Yard Tour: The National Museum of the United States Navy is organizing free, two-hour walking tours of the Navy Yard.


Fun Fact For Your Next Trivia Night


The Bartholdi Fountain was designed and created by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the man who later created the Statue of Liberty.

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