Adams Morgan is a culturally diverse neighborhood in Northwest Washington, D.C., centered at the intersection of 18th Street NW and Columbia Road NW. Adams Morgan is considered the heart of Washington’s Latino community, and is a major night life area with many bars and restaurants, particularly along 18th Street, the main commercial street. Much of the neighborhood is composed of 19th- and early 20th-century row houses and apartment buildings.
Dupont Circle is located to the south of Adams Morgan, while Mount Pleasant is to the north, and Columbia Heights is to the east. The neighborhood is bounded by Connecticut Avenue NW to the west, Rock Creek Park to the northwest, Harvard Street to the north, 16th Street to the east, and U Street and Florida Avenue NW to the south.
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. 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, Italian, Dutch, Vietnamese, Ghanaian, Cajun, Brazilian, Palestinian, Peruvian, Indian, Israeli, Thai, Lebanese, and Chinese. There are even a few American restaurants, including the usual assortment of pizzerias fast food establishments.
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 magnets 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 for more than 30 years. Also on summer Saturdays, the Western Art Market is open at the Marie Reed School.
In the 1960s, the neighborhood’s attractions included the Avignon Freres bakery and restaurant, 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 like Dizzie Gillespie when they came to town.
The area is served by a number of WMATA Metrobus lines, and the nearest Metro stations are Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan (Red line), and Columbia Heights (Green line). In the evenings, the Adams Morgan-U Street link (route 98) bus runs between Adams Morgan and the Metro stations every ten minutes.
Adams Morgan is in the service area of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C. The boundaries of ANC 1C are 16th Street NW on the east, Harvard Street NW and Rock Creek Park on the north, Rock Creek Park and Connecticut Avenue on the west, and Florida Avenue and U Street on the south.