DC Neighborhoods: Dupont Circle
Submitted by C. Scott Dorris, on behalf of the Local Assistance Committee
Over the past 130 years, the Dupont Circle neighborhood has been home to affluent businessmen, politicians, socialites, international dignitaries, and embassies, and a great mix of shopping and restaurants.
Originally named Pacific Circle in L'Enfant's plans, the area didn't really get developed until the 1870s due to inhospitable swampiness. In 1884, the traffic circle was renamed Dupont Circle in order to honor Admiral Samuel du Pont. His bronzed statue was later moved in 1922 to Rockford Park in Delaware and replaced with the current fountain sculpted by Daniel Chester French.
A superb walking neighborhood, the area is scattered with embassies and their fantastic and individualistic styling as well as many examples of Beaux Arts and Romanesque architecture. One of the earliest mansions to be built along the circle was Senator James G. Blaine's Mansion at 2000 Massachusetts Ave. NW, which was recently renovated to accommodate offices, Pizzeria Paradiso (delicious pizza and drinks), and Le Pain Quotidien (bakery/sandwiches), with entrances on P Street.
A streetcar system once ran through Dupont Circle and then looped through the Georgetown neighborhood. Abandoned many years ago, the tracks can still be seen on several Georgetown streets and there are new discussions about how to reuse the old streetcar tunnels under Dupont Circle and above the Metro Station.
Dupont Circle is also considered a historic locale in the development of American LGBT identity. Until January 2010, Dupont’s Lambda Rising bookstore was the oldest LGBT bookstore in the DC area, having opened in 1975. Also in 1975, the bookstore organized the first annual Capital Pride festival, an event which continues each June to this day.
Most recently, the Dupont Circle neighborhood was featured in MTV's twenty-third installment of the The Real World.
Food and Drink
There are numerous restaurants in the Dupont area, including a share of quick food chains such as Chipotle and Five Guys. However, if you are looking for a unique experience, be sure to enjoy a meal at the historic Tabard Inn Restaurant. They feature homemade donuts on the weekends and jazz on Sunday nights. Or go to the recently reopened Jockey Club and dine where many former presidents have eaten.
DuPont Circle was recently voted the best neighborhood in DC for beer, and there are many good places for beer in the area, including Brickskeller, Pizzeria Paradiso, and ChurchKey. However, if you prefer wine, be sure to stop by the Veritas Wine Bar, where you can order flights of wine and small plates of food. Want to avoid the bar crowds? Head to the bottle shop across the street from Pizzeria Paradiso; located at 1 West Dupont Circle Wine and Liquor, this place boasts a great selection and helpful, friendly staff.
The Dupont neighborhood is often overshadowed by the National Mall area when considering art and museums. However, there are some worthwhile museums and galleries in the Dupont neighborhood. Considered the first museum of Modern Art, The Phillips Collection features an intimate Rothko Room, where one large Rothko piece hangs on each of its four walls, as Rothko intended his work to be displayed. Also worth seeing is Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series: the odd numbers only (New York’s Museum of Modern Art has the even numbers in their collection).
Also noteworthy is the Textile Museum on S Street whose enormous collection spans five thousand years.
Of course, books should be mentioned for a meeting of librarians! And since DC is the 2nd most literate city in the US, there are—not surprisingly—several bookstores in the area. Kramerbooks on Connecticut has a superb selection of new books. The previously mentioned Second Story Books specializes in used books. Lastly, a short walk from the hotel is Red Onion Records and Books, which has a small selection of used books in addition to their collection of used and new vinyl.
THANKS TO OUR MLA '10