Our history

Welcome to Columbia Heights!

The Columbia Heights Initiative

The Columbia Heights Initiative is a neighborhood program of District Bridges serving the businesses, organizations, and individuals who live, work and play in Columbia Heights. The initiative plans local events and promotions that draw people to the neighborhood, creates volunteer opportunities, and connects stakeholders in the community. Additionally, the program provides technical assistance to local businesses to help them thrive.

About the Neighborhood

If you head straight up 14th Street Northwest you'll find yourself in the center of one of the most vibrant and energetic neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Columbia Heights is the most diverse and densely populated neighborhood in Washington, D.C. and serves as a case study in how a mixed-income, multiracial community can thrive. We pack a lot of excitement and energy into one neighborhood. Come explore our streets and they will draw you in and charm you into staying. 

The neighborhood is home to a mix of big-box retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Bed Bath and Beyond and small local businesses, making it a destination for shoppers from all over DC. But once they're here, we have a lot more for them to do than just shop!

Hungry? You're in the right place! We're not ashamed to brag about our first-rate food scene. Walk around our 14th Street corridor and you'll find fast food favorites like Chick-fil-a, Cava, Chipotle, and &Pizza. On a beautiful day, you'll find locals grabbing dinner and dining in the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza while enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. Or venture over to 11th Street NW and try a local spot! Whether you're looking for your neighborhood dive bar, breakfast for dinner, or want to wait in line to dine at Bon Appetite's #2 Restaurant in America, Bad Saint, we've got you covered. Come take a culinary tour of Columbia Heights and we guarantee your taste buds will not be disappointed!

You'll never be bored in this neighborhood. Whether you are looking to enjoy local theater, take a dance or yoga class, explore the arts and cultural scene, meet new friends or pick up a new hobby Columbia Heights has something for you. Come explore. Come connect.


Civil War in DC

(Camp of the seventh reg. N.Y. on 14th St.)


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What's in a Name?

(Columbian College can be seen behind the rows of tents at Carver Barracks on Meridian Hill during the Civil War.)


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Building Boom

(1902 ad for houses in Columbia Heights, and a picture of those houses today.)

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New Street Names

In May 1904...


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May 1904

“A Statement of Some of the Advantages of Beautiful Columbia Heights"

Columbia Heights Citizens’ Association...


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December 1904

The Arcade

The Arcade...

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February 1910

Meridian Hill Park

(First picture shows Meridian Hill Park in the 1930s, shortly after construction was finished. Second picture shows the Henderson Castle. Third and fourth pictures show Meridian Hill Park today.)

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June 1910

Tivoli Theater

The Tivoli Theatre...

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April 1924

Small Town Roots

J. Willard and Alice Marriott...


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Racially Restrictive Covenants

(Second picture shows Mary Gibson Hundley, ca. 1936. Third picture shows 2530 13th Street today.)

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Club Madre

(Odessa Madre with her lawyer in 1952.)


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The Day the Earth Stood Still

Columbia Heights...


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September 1951

Nob Hill

Nob Hill Restaurant...


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Race Riots

The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr...

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April 1968

Growing Latin American Population

The Latin American Youth Center...


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June 1968

GALA Theatre

The GALA Theatre...

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Did we miss an event?

Do you think there is an important event in our neighborhood's history that we missed? Let us know!

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What people say about our neighborhoods

In Columbia Heights, I can walk to the grocery store, run into friends on the street, and take my dogs to the dog park, and then hop on the Metro (or my bike) and be downtown in minutes to attend a meeting or seminar or visit a museum. Columbia Heights is basically a small, friendly town that's adjacent to the nation's capital.

- Leo, Columbia Heights resident since 1979

Mount Pleasant is a warm and inviting neighborhood, perfect for porch sitting and making new friends. We love being able to walk to an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants and shops. Wouldn't want to live anywhere else!

- Mount Pleasant Volunteer