×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Washington's U Street: A Biography
     

Washington's U Street: A Biography

by Blair A. Ruble
 

See All Formats & Editions

This book traces the history of the U Street neighborhood in Washington, D.C., from its Civil War–era origins to its recent gentrification.

Home throughout the years to important scholars, entertainers, and political figures, as well as to historically prominent African American institutions, Washington’s U Street neighborhood is a critical zone of

Overview

This book traces the history of the U Street neighborhood in Washington, D.C., from its Civil War–era origins to its recent gentrification.

Home throughout the years to important scholars, entertainers, and political figures, as well as to historically prominent African American institutions, Washington’s U Street neighborhood is a critical zone of contact between black and white America. Howard University and the Howard Theater are both located there; Duke Ellington grew up in the neighborhood; and diplomat Ralph Bunche, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and medical researcher Charles Drew were all members of the community.

This robustly diverse neighborhood included residents of different races and economic classes when it arose during the Civil War. Jim Crow laws came to the District after the Compromise of 1877, and segregation followed in the mid-1880s. Over the next century, U Street emerged as an energetic center of African American life in Washington. The mid-twentieth-century rise of cultural and educational institutions brought with it the establishment of African American middle and elite classes, ironically fostering biases within the black community. Later, with residential desegregation, many of the elites moved on and U Street entered decades of decline, suffered rioting in 1968, but has seen an initially fitful resurgence that has recently taken hold.

Blair A. Ruble, a jazz aficionado, prominent urbanist, and longtime resident of Washington, D.C., is uniquely equipped to undertake the history of this culturally important area. His work is a rare instance of original research told in an engaging and compelling voice.

Editorial Reviews

Journal of American History
An informative, readable, and well-documented work that seeks to recover the history of the nation's capital from the vantage of its African American residents and one of their most enduring communities.

— David Taft Terry

14th & You
"A must-read for anyone interested in the tremendously rich history of the U Street neighborhood."

Internet Review of Books
U Street gives readers many human-interest stories, delivered with a light touch.

— Jane Woodward Elioseff

Baltimore Afro American
"Straightforward tale about the District’s history with African Americans at the center."

Melody & Words
"His research is impeccable... very readable and entertaining."

Choice

Too often, historians forget that Washington, DC, is a city with a history and not just an extension of national politics. Ruble gives readers a history of U Street with a story of a neighborhood that began as a free black community.

Washington History
Ruble offers more than a mere chronology of the U Street neighborhood. Washington's U Street: A Biography gives readers a glimpse into the lives of the people—rich and poor, black and white, law-abiding and not—who elevated U Street into the iconic place it is today for Washingtonians, especially African Americans.

— Mary Berger

Bob Cullen Photography
A welcome gift for anyone interested in Washington or ubran issues in general.

— Bob Cullen

H-Net - John Muller
"Complete with personal profiles of past and present DC luminaries, known locally and nationally, in more than 300 pages of text Ruble takes the reader on a journey of U Street's history from its initial development following the arrival of runaway slaves to the city during the Civil War to President Obama's visit to the landmark Ben's Chili Bowl."

Washington Business Journal - Matthew Gilmore
"[Ruble] weaves the historical tale of the area with profiles of its major personalities, including Howard University founder Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, former Mayor Marion Barry and Radio One Inc. founder Cathy Hughes... After all, it's a lot more than a place to get a half-smoke."

Ellingtonia - Theodore Hudson
"This is a wonderful book... Washington's U Street: A Biography is a meritorious study of a subject of considerable historical importance. Thank you, Mr. Ruble."

Internet Review of Books - Jane Woodward Elioseff
" U Street gives readers many human-interest stories, delivered with a light touch."

H-DC, H-Net Reviews - Amber N. Wiley
"Groundbreaking... Ruble carefully constructs a biographical history of U Street in northwest Washington that highlights the accomplishments of everyday people in the neighborhood, while simultaneously giving life to the area’s buildings, streets, and educational and cultural institutions, particularly those of the African American community."

Journal of American History - David Taft Terry
"An informative, readable, and well-documented work that seeks to recover the history of the nation's capital from the vantage of its African American residents and one of their most enduring communities."

Washington History - Mary Berger
"Ruble offers more than a mere chronology of the U Street neighborhood. Washington's U Street: A Biography gives readers a glimpse into the lives of the people—rich and poor, black and white, law-abiding and not—who elevated U Street into the iconic place it is today for Washingtonians, especially African Americans."

Bob Cullen Photography - Bob Cullen
"A welcome gift for anyone interested in Washington or ubran issues in general."

Flashbacks - Patrick M. Reynolds
"This book is loaded with terrific photos and fascinating sidebars about some of the more interesting people who lived, played, and worked on U Street."

Journal of African American History - Lopez D. Matthews
"A fine work that sheds light on race relations on U Street and throughout the District."

Maryland Historical Magazine - Matthew Smalarz
"Erudite and refreshing... meticulously recreates the fractious, racial atmosphere around which seminal African American luminaries, working-class blacks, and white residents feuded with one another over—and gave shape to—the interminable, public and private venues that composed U Street throughout the last two centuries of its history."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781421405940
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
01/31/2012
Edition description:
20
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
1,284,665
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Holloway

No one, to my knowledge, has assembled a narrative on black Washington that covered such an expanse. There have been a number of books that have looked at black Washington during a certain era, but they do not attempt the sort of panoptic approach that one finds in Washington's U Street.

Jonathan Holloway, Yale University

Deb Morris

Ruble takes us back to the days before Jim Crow, when U street was a mixed community, then look at the post-Jim Crow era, when it was central to black cultural and social life, and moves on to today, and its spectacular revitalization.

Meet the Author

Blair A. Ruble is the author of several books about the governance of cities worldwide, including Creating Diversity Capital: Transnational Migrants in Montreal, Washington, and Kyiv and Second Metropolis: Pragmatic Pluralism in Gilded Age Chicago, Silver Age Moscow, and Meiji Osaka, both also published by Johns Hopkins and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Ruble is director of the Kennan Institute and of the Comparative Urban Studies Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews