Take a walk along U Street, Washington's "Black Broadway," where Duke Ellington grew up and was inspired, where musical greats such as Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Jelly Roll Morton and Dizzy Gillespie played the local clubs into the wee hours of the morning, and where movie palaces mingled with pool halls, restaurants and barber shops. The two-hour guided walking tour features stops at the Lincoln Theatre, the Howard Theatre, the Thurgood Marshall Center, the African American Civil War Memorial and one of the first hotels to welcome African American guests.
Explore the neighborhood that was shared by African American intellectuals, business leaders, and families of all economic levels. The businesses they owned and the houses they lived in are featured on this walk. U Street was dubbed “Black Broadway” for the numerous movie theaters, nightclubs and ballrooms frequented by jazz musicians like Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Jelly Roll Morton, and Duke Ellington himself. You’ll see the theaters (including the Howard Theatre) and a club where these performances took place. The first full-service YMCA for African Americans, one of the few hotels that welcomed black clientele, and the first memorial to African American soldiers who fought in the U.S. Civil War are on the walk route, as are homes occupied by the Ellington family as Duke grew up. You’ll stand on the corner where riots started that extinguished the heyday of the area—but only temporarily. U Street has rebounded to become a must-see corridor for tourists and locals alike.