Adams Morgan earned the reputation of the District’s “artsy” neighborhood in the 1970s when residents began congregating in the area to create street art, which included everything from plastering political posters throughout the neighborhood to painting large murals on building exteriors. The neighborhood continued to attract a politically progressive crowd into the 1980s when row house owners on 18th street chose to convert their properties into mom-and-pop businesses. The nightlife scene also exploded as bars and nightclubs appeared on the famous 18th street stretch.
Today, 18th Street in Adams Morgan remains the centerpiece of the neighborhood, retaining its hallmark artistic edge first established five decades ago. Tattoo parlors, palm readers, eclectic bars and alternative-style businesses line the street and after 10 p.m. you can find the sidewalks packed with people venturing out to enjoy them.
But a lack of affordable housing options in the neighborhood is forcing out many long-time residents who helped form the neighborhood’s identity. Additionally, businesses are struggling to resist chain retailers from moving into the neighborhood.
The Hatchet sat down with local business owners, community activists and long-time residents to discuss the history of Adams Morgan and strategies that could be employed to preserve the neighborhood’s creative energy.