The H Street NE/NW neighborhood was one of Washington's earliest and busiest commercial districts, and was the location of the first Sears Roebuck store in Washington. H Street NE went into decline after World War II and businesses in the corridor were severely damaged during the 1968 riots. This part of the street did not start to recover until the 21st century.
In 2002, the District of Columbia Office of Planning initiated a community-based planning effort to help revitalize the H STreet NE corridor. Because it is nearly 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long, the resulting H Street NE Strategic Strategic Development Plan divided H Street into 3 districts: the Urban Living district (between 2nd and 7th Streets NE), the Central Retail District (between 7th and 12th Streets NE), and the Arts and Entertainment District (between 12th and 15th Streets NE).
In the mid-2000s, the Arts and Entertainment District began to revitalize as a nightlife district. The Atlas Theater, a Moderne-style 1930s movie theater that had languished since the 1968 riots—was refurbished as a dance studio and performance space, and is now the anchor of what is now being called the Atlas District. H Street NE became home to the H Street Playhouse, a black box theater where Theater Alliance and Forum Theatre are in residence; live music venues, such as the Red and the Black and the Rock & Roll Hotel; and restaurants and bars such as the Argonaut, Dangerously Delicious Pies, Showbar Presents the Palace of Wonders, the Pug, and Sticky Rice.
H Street NE rapidly gentrified after 2007. The median sales price of houses on or near H Street NW from July to September 2009 was $417,000. H Street NE was voted the sixth most hipster place in America by Forbes magazine in September 2012. This process of gentrification led to tensions with some previous residents, who felt that they were becoming less welcome as the neighborhood changed and worried about being priced out.
In Northeast Washington, H Street continues uninterrupted from North Capitol Street to 15th Street NE, where it terminates in what is known as the "starburst intersection", where it meets Bladensburg Road, 15th Street, Benning Road, Maryland Avenue, and Florida Avenue. After this intersection, there is a gap of two blocks where the street is interrupted by Hechinger Mall.[a] H Street continues for a short segment between 17th and 24th Streets NE. The road does not continue east of the Anacostia River.
The city plan on which D.C. was laid out provides for a parallel H Street in the southwest and southeast quadrants of the city. Subsequent government actions, most notably the construction of I-395/I-295, disconnected the southern H Street in several places. In its current form, it does not run consecutively for more than two blocks at any point except for its easternmost extremity, near Fort Dupont Park.
^This is the site of the old Graceland Cemetery, which was closed on August 3, 1894, and finally emptied of graves in November 1897. The site was owned by Pepco for many years before being sold to the Hechinger Company in 1978. The mall was built in 1979.
^"Removed to Other Graveyards". The Washington Post. November 11, 1897. p. 9; Brown, Merrill (September 30, 1979). "Mall Seen As Stimulus For H Street". The Washington Post. p. K3; Simpson, Anna (February 20, 1986). "Cemeteries Give History Lessons: Ex-Policeman Slowly Rebuilds D.C.'s Past". The Washington Post. p. MD5.