Jazzy Nights in Washington: A Stroll Through the 1920s Shaw Neighborhood - Smithsonian Associates

Friday, July 10 @ 6PM 

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Howard Theatre on T Street, constructed in 1910 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Photo: Garrett Peck)

The combination of jazz and bootleg booze was an irresistible force in Prohibition-era Washington, and nowhere in town was the music hotter or the drinks more plentiful than in Shaw. The clubs and theaters on U Street, N.W., dubbed the city’s “Black Broadway,” drew audiences to hear headliners like Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and D.C.-born Duke Ellington.

on a virtual walking tour that focuses on Shaw during this colorful era. Using prerecorded footage and live commentary, the tour begins at the legendary Howard Theatre, the cultural centerpiece of neighborhood, then heads to the sites of several 1920s clubs along U Street, including the Club Caverns, Club Bali, Murray’s Palace Casino, and the Minnehaha Theatre (later the location of another landmark, Ben’s Chili Bowl).

Along the way, learn about the city’s race riot of 1919, the unusual tale of a policeman-turned-bootlegger, and the African American artists, performers, and poets who turned this neighborhood into a vaunted nightlife scene rivaled only by Harlem.

Any excursion through a 1920s entertainment mecca wouldn’t be complete without a beverage, so pull up a chair and your favorite drink for a Friday-night experience. Peck takes questions at stops along the way.