Dupont Circle is a traffic circle, neighborhood, and historic district in Northwest Washington, D.C. The traffic circle is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue NW, Connecticut Avenue NW, New Hampshire Avenue NW, P Street NW, and 19th Street NW. The Dupont Circle neighborhood is bounded approximately by 15th Street NW to the east, 22nd Street NW to the west, M Street NW to the south, and Florida Avenue NW to the north. The local government Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 2B) and the Dupont Circle Historic District have slightly different boundaries.
Dupont Circle is served by the Washington Metro Red Line at the Dupont Circle Metro Station. There are two entrances: north of the circle at Q Street NW and south of the circle at 19th Street NW.
The neighborhood is centered around the traffic circle, which is divided between two counterclockwise roads. The outer road serves all the intersecting streets, while access to the inner road is limited to through traffic on Massachusetts Avenue. Connecticut Avenue passes under the circle via a tunnel; vehicles on Connecticut Avenue can access the circle via service roads that branch from Connecticut near N Street and R Street.
The park located within the circle is maintained by the National Park Service. The central fountain provides seating, and long curved benches around the central area were installed in 1964. The park within the circle is a gathering place for those wishing to play chess on the permanent stone chessboards. Tom Murphy, a homeless championship chess player, is a resident. The park has also been the location of political rallies, such as those supporting gay rights and those protesting the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
The Dupont Circle neighborhood, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is home to numerous embassies, many of which are located in historic residences. The Thomas T. Gaff House serves as the Colombian ambassador’s residence, and the Walsh-McLean House is home to the Indonesian embassy. Located east of Dupont Circle on Massachusetts Avenue is the Clarence Moore House, now known as the Embassy of Uzbekistan, and the Emily J. Wilkins House, which formerly housed the Australian embassy and now is occupied by the Peruvian Chancery. The Chancery of Iraq is located in the William J. Boardman House on P Street.
Other landmarks, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, include the Embassy Gulf Service Station, Christian Heurich Mansion, also known as Brewmaster’s Castle, and the Phillips Collection, the country’s first museum of modern art. The Richard H. Townsend House located on Massachusetts Avenue now houses the Cosmos Club. The Dumbarton Bridge, also known as the Buffalo Bridge, was constructed in 1883. It carries Q Street over Rock Creek Park and into Georgetown.
In addition to its residential components, comprised primarily of high-priced apartments and condominiums, Dupont Circle is home to some of the nation’s most prestigious think tanks and research institutions, including the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Eurasia Center, and the Peterson Institute. The renowned Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University is located less than two blocks from the circle. Dupont Circle is also home to the Founding Church of Scientology, the first such church established by the religion’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The Phillips Collection, the nation’s first museum of modern art, is located near the circle; its most famous and popular work on display is Renoir’s giant festive canvas Luncheon of the Boating Party.
Annual neighborhood events
Capital Pride is an annual LGBT pride festival held each June in Washington. As of 2007[update], the festival is the fourth-largest LGBT pride event in the United States, with over 200,000 people in attendance. The Capital Pride parade takes place annually on Saturday during the festival and travels through the streets of the neighborhood.
High Heel Race
The annual Dupont Circle High Heel Race, first held in 1985, takes place on the Tuesday before Halloween (October 31). For several hours before 9 p.m., more than 100 drag queens stroll up and down 17th Street, often referred to as “The Runway”. The race itself, which lasts about one minute, begins at 9:00 p.m. Spectators and participants begin the festivities hours earlier. The “racecourse” extends north from 17th and P Street NW up to Riggs Place, a distance of about two short blocks.
The event is sponsored by the Alpha (Washington, D.C.) chapter of the Delta Lambda Phi fraternity and by JR’s DC Bar and Grill. The grand marshals of the 2008 race were D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty and local drag queen Lena Lett.