Washington, D.C. : Anacostia
Washington, D.C - Anacostia
Anacostia is a district of Washington, D.C., consisting of the many neighborhoods south of the Anacostia River.
- Anacostia Museum, 1901 Fort Place, SE, ☎ +1 202 633-4820, . 10AM-5PM daily. The Smithsonian's least visited museum, far from the Mall, is a small, but superbly exhibited tribute to Anacostia and D.C. "East of the River" and to African-American history.Free.
- The Big Chair, 2101 Martin Luther King Jr Ave, SE. The Big Chair is Anacostia's most recognized landmark, and it sits right in downtown Anacostia on MLK Jr Ave. It was erected in 1959 as an advertisement for the now closed Curtis Brothers Furniture Store across the street, and at the time of its creation, it was reputed to be the largest chair in the world. 19.5 feet high and 4,600 lbs, the Big Chair is looking quite nice today, as it was just restored in 2006.
- Historic Uniontown. The heart of historic Uniontown is bounded by MLK Jr Ave, Good Hope Dr, 14th St, and W St SE. In this community of well preserved, wooden, Gothic houses, look especially for the colorful Rosie's Row of townhouses on the north side of U St just west of 13th, and for the 1879 St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church at 1244 V St, SE. The neighborhood is small enough where you could easily cover it on foot from the Frederick Douglass House and downtown Anacostia, and you would race through all there is to see in a car.
- Fort Stanton Overlook, 1600 Morris Rd SE(parking lot of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church). Fort Stanton was the first of dozens in the "Fort Circle" designed to protect the capital from Confederate attacks during the Civil War. All that remains is a historic marker, but the real attraction is the superb view of the capital from this high, grassy hill behind the church parking lot.
- Frederick Douglass House, 1411 W Street SE, ☎ +1 202 426-5961, . 9AM-5PM daily (16 April-15 October), 9AM-4PM daily (16 October-15 April). Frederick Douglass' house in D.C. In addition to the small museum and gift shop, you may visit the house itself, but only on a (free) tour. Tours are available by RSVP at 9AM, 12:15PM, 1:45PM, 3PM, and 3:30PM daily.Free.
- Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, 1550 Anacostia Avenue, NE, ☎ +1 202 426-6905(fax: +1 202 426-5991), . 8AM-4PM daily. The only aquatic gardens managed by the National Park service in the country is a marvelous off-the-beaten-path destination in D.C. The Kenilworth marsh is all that remains of the vast marshlands that once covered the riverbanks of the Anacostia (before being dredged for development), and is the only place where you can really imagine the District before it became the capital. The prime attraction are the cultivated ponds, full of waterlilies, but its also a worthy destination for the riverfront trail, greenhouses, and birdwatching. The best time to visit is without a doubt on an early summer morning, when the waterlilies are in full bloom. Free summer garden tours are available Sa-Su 9AM & 11AM (Memorial Day-Labor Day).Free.
- Saint Elizabeth's Hospital, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, SE, . Why visit a mental hospital? Because the historic grounds and buildings are beautiful (if run-down and really creepy). On top of that, you can see some great views from here of the D.C. skyline. The hospital was founded in 1852 as the first major government-run mental institution, and at its peak housed 7,000 patients, which at one point included both President Lincoln's and President Garfield's assassins. The hospital still operates, but on a much reduced scale. The Department of Homeland Security plans to relocate here in 2010 (and to destroy most of the architectural heritage in the process), so drive by to see the grounds while you still can.
- Cole's Cafe(Anacostia Restaurant & Catering), 1918 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, ☎ +1 202 889-9588. M-F 7AM-6:30PM, Sa 8AM-6:30PM. Mama Cole has turned this place (despite the recent name change) into a neighborhood institution, with a combination of absolutely delicious soul food carry-out and charity in the form of reduced prices for seniors, free cheese steaks for kids who present good grades on their school report cards, and donating profits to buy gloves & scarves for neighborhood kids. All that philanthropy nearly cost Mama the store, when she couldn't pay her rent last year—diners and friends alike chipped in to get her through that. The food is all-around delicious, but especially focus on the desserts—the banana pudding was so popular that Mama decided to give away the recipe, since she couldn't make enough for everyone!$2-6.
- Fireside Cafe, 2028 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, ☎ +1 202 678-7010. Probably D.C.'s most authentic Jamaican cuisine served up in spicy portions. It's a new place, and definitely one of the nicest eateries east of the river.$7-11.
- Miss Charlotte's Crab Cakes, 4193 Minnesota Avenue, NE, ☎ +1 202 397-8517. Endless upscale restaurants serve "crab cakes" in D.C., but the cakes in question are more cake than crab and not really worth your time. The best lump-meat crab cakes belong to Miss Charlotte, hands down, who will likely serve you herself through the bullet-proof glass window. There's no seating save the stump outside, and this isn't one of the safest parts of town, but this is some of the best eating in the city. It's not too far from the Minnesota Ave metro stop. If driving, there's usually easy on-street parking, and the nearby Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens make for a wonderful place to eat crab cakes in the summer. You could go as cheap as the delicious fried whiting sandwich or a monster burger, but splurge instead for the $20 deluxe crab cake dinner (2 lumps, 2 sides). (And perhaps a perfect sweet potato pie.) You can call in your order in advance.$4-20.
- Morgan's Family Fish Fry, 2323 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, ☎ +1 202 678-6463. Soul food & very cheap fish fry, with the motto "food so great, you'll scrape your plate." Carry-out only, as you might expect.$2.50-4.
Accommodations are extremely scarce east of the river. You will almost certainly have better luck looking elsewhere for a hotel. There are accommodations on the military base, but those are only available to those who have official business there (i.e., people actually allowed on the base). If you are intent on staying east of the river, try the Econo Lodge just across the Maryland border.
- Econo Lodge Temple Hills, 3131 Branch Avenue, Temple Hills, MD, ☎ +1 301 894-3600. Just beyond the district line, and only a 5 minute walk to the Naylor Road Metro stop, which puts you in easy range of downtown Anacostia as well as the city generally. The price is very good for the large rooms with WiFi, HBO, etc., but the location is really quite undesirable. The neighborhood is not quite as rough as some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the district, but there's definitely nothing to do there—even at this price you should be able to do better in the D.C. area.
This page was last edited at 17:32, on 29 November 2008 by Peter Fitzgerald.