Rising at the District of Columbia’s center, Capitol Hill is the seat of American government, making it one of the most recognized neighborhoods in the world. Best-known as the site of such institutions as the United States Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court, and the Capitol building, Capitol Hill is one of D.C.’s most historic and densely populated residential communities.
Capitol Hill’s real estate is mostly row homes and manors in classic architectural styles. The streets follow the vision of Pierre L’Enfant, the French-American military engineer responsible for giving George Washington the architectural vision that governed the creation of America’s capital. Spacious Federalist and frame rowhouses on grid-like streets confirm the success of L’Enfant’s vision, as attractive today as when first conceived in the 1790s.
Of course, Capitol Hill attracts aspiring politicos looking for a home within walking distance to the corridors of political power. But there is more offered here than the iconic buildings so central to the story of American democracy.
Capitol Hill is a vibrant cosmopolitan neighborhood with an eclectic culinary scene, from rustic American food to international cuisine. Eastern Market is a prime example of this lesser-known face of Capitol Hill; in continuous operation since 1873, the eatery is a lively space serving a wide range of fresh food and artisanal fare. Barracks Row is the area’s oldest commercial district, where many of the best restaurants are found — such as Pineapple and Pearls, and Rose’s Luxury, both Michelin-starred.
Local attractions include some of the most famous spaces in America. Aside from the iconic political buildings, Capitol Hill is home to the world’s largest library, the Library of Congress. Folger Shakespeare Library is another must-see for fans of literature; here, regular performances are held among the world’s largest collection of the bard’s works. There are also beautifully maintained green spaces, including the quiet summerhouse on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and the flower-filled park surrounding Bartholdi Fountain. The U.S. Botanic Garden is the most spectacular of the Hill’s green attractions, housing an incredible collection of plants within the art deco, glass Conservatory.
Capitol Hill’s importance to American democracy means it is full of must-visits for followers of politics — for example, the military parades held each Friday from May through August at the U.S. Military Barracks. And, it’s also possible to attend a session of the U.S. Congress.