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Shaw Community Guide Real Estate Once a freed slave encampment, Shaw is now one of the most desirable places to live in Washington DC

Updated 3/8/2023

History and Flavor

One of the most popular, storied, and desirable neighborhoods is the Shaw neighborhood in the Northwest of Washington, DC.  It’s the home to Howard University, Ben’s Chili Bowl, and a score of other iconic DC landmarks. Shaw combines respect for the past with an eye for the future. It’s drawing innovators, artists, and many new fans to its doorstep.

Originating as a freed slave encampment, the area now known as Shaw was one of the most important centers of African-American life and culture throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The area influenced notables of the Harlem Renaissance, like Langston Hughes, and is the hometown of Duke Ellington. It grew as a black community’s hub of art, entertainment, and commerce.

The turmoil of the Civil Rights movement in the US played out in Shaw, as it did in many other urban centers. Following the riots of the late 60s, Shaw suffered economic decline and rising crime rates before being brought back to life by grassroots activism. This renaissance plays out in the many new businesses that coexist with Shaw’s past historical homes and sites.

Nowhere is Shaw’s revitalization more evident than in the influx of top-flight restaurants in the area. Whether you are looking for an unforgettable breakfast, a truly authentic deli, or a world-class dinner, Shaw has a place to explore. Then stay for the nightlife and the historic theatre district, where innovative performances play out in classic spaces.


Music & Parks

  • The Howard Theatre 20th-century theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is no dusty relic. With a busy lineup of performances, you’re almost always sure to find something great here.
  • Lincoln Theatre– Historic theatre offers the best live and film presentations, including a stellar collection of classic movies everyone will love.
  • Shaw Park Compact urban space featuring basketball courts & a concrete skateboarding park.
  • French Street ParkCommunity park with a patio, mature trees, community garden plots, new level paths and lawn, and new permeable pavers used throughout the park for improved drainage.
  • Bundy ParkA fenced-in park where dog owners can bring their dogs to play and socialize off-leash.


Popular Shopping and Eats

  • Lettie GoochRetail shop featuring an eclectic mix of emerging designers and a hand-picked collection of wearable and well-made pieces.
  • Bonobos– Brick-&-mortar branch of the online retailer, featuring stylish menswear & in-store fittings.
  • Salt & Sundry– Modern oasis for artisanal pantry items, plus a curated array of barware, linens, cookbooks & more.
  • Buttercream Bakeshop Scratch-baked cakes, cookies, and confections beyond your wildest dreams.
  • Capo DeliItalian sub shop specialties like sausage & peppers, plus deli-style sandwiches in simple surrounds.
  • KinshipUnique New American cuisine emphasizing classic and indulgent dishes in chic surroundings.
  • The DabneyChef Jeremiah Langhorne serves Mid-Atlantic cuisine at this rustic spot set in a former row house.


Best Public High Schools

Best Public Elementary Schools

Public Transportation


Shaw-Howard U Metro Rail Station – Train

U St NW & 11th ST NW – Bus stop

New Jersey Ave NW & Florida Ave NW – Bus stop

U St NW & 9th St NW – Bus Stop

Median Home Value

$787,000 of 2023

Renters: 68%

Owners: 32%


Population 26,528

Median household income –  $110,373

Median age: 32

Families with children – 10%

High school diploma or equivalent – 11%

College Degree: 83%

50% White

28% African American

14% Hispanic

5% Asian

3% Other