Adams Morgan: Washington, D.C.


Adams Morgan is a vibrant neighborhood in northwest D.C., known for its historic rowhouses, lively nightlife, and cultural diversity. For years the neighborhood was home to a large population of Spanish-speaking residents, many of whom worked at nearby embassies. The 1980s marked a dramatic increase in the Latino population as immigrants arrived from Central America, making Adams Morgan a cultural center for the District's Latino residents and one of the largest Salvadoran populations in the United States.

Designated Area

Located in northwest D.C., bounded by Connecticut Avenue to the southwest, Rock Creek Park to the west, Harvard Street to the north, 16th Street to the east and Florida Avenue to the south.

Capital Bikeshare station. Photo by Lynsey Knowles.

Planning Excellence

In addition to the colorful storefronts and iconic rowhouses, a number of community murals throughout the area enliven the walking experience and reflect the culture of Adams Morgan residents. The international shops, restaurants, annual festivals, weekly farmers markets, and nightlife draw visitors from all over the District and its suburbs, particularly on weekends. Residents and visitors have ample access to the neighborhood's variety of parks, including Rock Creek Park, one of the District's most treasured natural resources.

The neighborhood is very friendly to pedestrians and bicycles, particularly with the 2012 completion of the Streetscape Project, which improved the streets for pedestrians and added bicycle lanes, Capital Bikeshare stations, and bike racks. The D.C. Circulator provides frequent service connecting Adams Morgan to other neighborhoods. Two Metro stations — Woodley Park and Dupont Circle — are located within walking proximity of the neighborhood, making it easy to visit Adams Morgan day or night.

Restaurants along 18th Street NW. Photo by Lynsey Knowles.

Defining Characteristics, Features


  • The tract of land known as "Kalorama" was subdivided to create the residential neighborhood Washington Heights, the first of several residential subdivisions created out of "Kalorama" (1872)
  • In the 1880s, a wealthy landowner, Mary Foote Henderson, purchased land that is now Meridian Hill Park, evicting a large African American community. Residents subsequently relocated to the Reed-Cooke neighborhood near the Spanish, Mexican, and Cuban embassies.
  • A land dispute over a 38.5-acre portion of land in present-day Washington Heights led to negotiations resulting in the layout of streets to subdivide the land, which was named "the Commissioners' Subdivision of Washington Heights" (1888)
  • Speculative land developers laid out the street network of the future neighborhood, existing beyond Boundary Road, the northern boundary for the L'Enfant Plan
  • The neighborhood and subdivisions were threatened by the Permanent Highway Act of 1893, which was amended in 1898, allowing Adams Morgan to develop rapidly over the coming years along new electric streetcar lines that commenced service along 18th Street and Columbia Road in the 1890s
  • Following the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deemed segregated schools unconstitutional, officials and residents formed the Adams Morgan Better Neighborhood Conference, uniting four neighborhoods and two existing elementary schools: Thomas P. Morgan, an all-black school, and John Quincy Adams Elementary, an all-white school

Planning and Community Engagement

  • The Adams Morgan Better Neighborhood Conference was responsible for organizing the neighborhood into block associations and deeply involved in planning the neighborhood — residents fought to prevent the Inner Loop Freeway (1950s), and partnered with the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) to gain residents' input on an urban renewal plan
  • Responding to residents' concerns, the NCPC rejected urban renewal for the areas that would have received modernist luxury apartment towers (1965)
  • Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) were established as part of the Home Rule Charter, or an advisory board comprised of residents of the neighborhood who shape policies affecting their neighborhoods including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, zoning, economic development, etc., with ANC 1C representing Adams Morgan (1974)
  • A historic zoning overlay was approved for the Reed-Cooke neighborhood (1989), and both Washington Heights and Kalorama Triangle were designated historic districts in 2004 and 2006 respectively; Adams Morgan contains approximately 700 historic properties to date
  • The Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District is established (2005)
  • The D.C. Office of Planning's Comprehensive Plan (2006) reiterated the District's commitment to protecting the neighborhood's defining row house fabric and architectural character by recommending the adoption of additional historic and conservation districts
  • The Adams Morgan Streetscape Project was a 17-month, $6.8 million project that upgraded public spaces and infrastructure including: widening sidewalks for pedestrians, adding shared bike lanes, planting 59 new trees, installing 71 new bike racks, installing new outdoor globe lighting, and improving pedestrian crosswalks for safety, among other critical infrastructure improvements (2012)
  • D.C. Government approves the creation of the Meridian Hill Historic District, centered on Meridian Hill Park, extending west of 16th Street into Adams Morgan (2014)

Adams Morgan Day festival. Photo by Jacob Sacks.

Amenities and Events

  • The neighborhood is in close proximity to Dupont Circle, the National Zoo, Rock Creek Park, Walter C. Pierce Park, and Kalorama Park
  • The Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center (1977) is situated in the heart of Adams Morgan, built on the site of the former Thomas Morgan School, named after a local community activist. It features a daycare center, tennis and basketball courts, a solar-heated swimming pool, health clinic, athletic field, and outdoor chess tables
  • Kalorama Park (kalorama means "beautiful view") is a 3-acre triangular plot that serves the surrounding neighborhood with access to green space, a playground, recreation center, basketball courts, a community garden, and the site of many local events
  • Fascinating cultural attractions include: the Sitar Center for the Arts, DC Arts Center, and the Adams Morgan Heritage Trail
  • Since 1978, the neighborhood hosts the annual Adams Morgan Day Festival each September to celebrate the area's multicultural character with live music, street food, hundreds of vendor booths, and activities