Socially, Shaw is still a work in progress when it comes to the bar and restaurant scene. The bars and restaurants that are here are typically packed and hard to find a seat at, but DC entrepreneurs are moving quickly to acquire liquor licenses and change that scenario. This area will be moving towards a more Cleveland Park like supply of entertainment soon enough.
Geographically, Shaw is roughly bounded by M Street, NW or Massachusetts Avenue NW to the south; New Jersey Avenue, NW to the east; Florida Avenue, NW to the north; and 11th Street, NW to the west. The area also includes the U Street Corridor, which is the commercial hub of the Shaw area, extending westward to 16th Street NW.
Shaw is centrally located, directly north of downtown and mere blocks southeast of the U Street. The neighborhood is served by the Shaw-Howard University Metro station (green/yellow lines), and it is within walking distance to both the U Street and Mount Vernon Square Metro stations too. There is good bus service in the area, with the 70 and 71 routes connecting the area with the waterfront and Silver Spring via 7th Street, and the G2 bus that connects Georgetown University and Howard University. And, for those who have cars, there’s great freeway access too.
Historically, The area has seen great renewal over the past 5-10 years. Shaw’s renewal has been quiet, with one building renovation at a time rather than large scale rehab projects.
Shaw grew out of freed slave encampments in the rural outskirts of Washington City, originally called “Uptown” when the city’s boundary ended at “Boundary Street” (now Florida Avenue).
Shaw was named after Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the commander of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The neighborhood thrived in the nineteenth and twentieth century as a center of black culture. The area was a hotspot for jazz in the 1920s and 1930s, with resident Duke Ellington crushing the scene.
Politically, Ward: 1 (Jim Graham) & 2 (Jack Evans)
Fraternally, check out Baby Wale (1124 9th Street NW) in the Shaw DC neighborhood. Built from a roofless shell, Baby Wale has skylit ceilings and an upside down tree cum chandelier with a reasonably priced menu.
Dacha (1600 7th St NW) in a formerly vacant lot, features German biergarten tables, great landscaping, and a striking two-story-tall mural of Elizabeth Taylor and featuring a carefully curated list of Belgian and German beers.
Fun Fact: Shaw neighborhood was named after Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. The neighborhood was originally started as a freed slave encampment.