6 Things to Know About Capitol Hill

Familiar to most visitors as the location of Senate and House office buildings, the Library of Congress, the Super Court, the Marine Barracks, and, of course, the Capitol, this is also the largest historic residential neighborhood in D.C. (Are there any not historic ones?)

1. Charles L’Enfant, the architect who mapped out the District of Columbia’s streets, labeled this neighborhood Jenkins Hill. However, when Thomas Jefferson overruled L’Enfant over the name of the Capitol building itself (L’Enfant wanted to call it Congress House), the future name of the neighborhood was decided too.

2. No one remembers who Jenkins was.

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3. Back in 1800, when Congress first moved into its shiny new home, the senators and representatives didn’t plan on spending all year in the District of Columbia, so many just rented rooms in boarding houses close to their Hill offices. Nowadays, that tradition has resumed: An estimated third of all Congresspeople live on Capitol Hill. (Georgetown is so last century.)

4. It wasn’t only legislators who lived on the Hill. When Frederick Douglass first moved to D.C. in the 1870s, he set up house at 316 A Street Northeast, where a small museum is devoted to his memory. (A later, more famous Douglass residence on the other side of the Anacostia River is part of the National Park system.)

SC-CN-93-0786 PORTRAIT COLLECTION - FREDERICK DOUGLASS Portrait of Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer, n.d. unknown

5. Enough history: let’s talk brunch. Actually, you can have both at Eastern Market, a public food hall that’s been on this site since 1873. The Market Lunch diner inside is a relative newcomer, as it’s been serving blueberry buckwheat pancakes for only the last 30 years or so.

5628862443_80ca51d9a4_oPhoto Courtesy of Woodleywonderworks via Flickr

6. Sharing a block with the massive Hart Senate Office Building, the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument is not an obelisk or a fountain but a Federal-style townhouse that, back in 1929, became the headquarters of the National Women’s Party, which fought for suffrage.

2773658775_0b215cfa0f_oPhoto + Featured Photo Courtesy of Josh/NCinDC via Flickr

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