Northeast D.C.

Northeast D.C. encompasses the area north of East Capitol St and east of North Capitol St. It is made up of many different, smaller neighborhoods as well as a few impressive sights. The Metro snakes throughout Northeast along the Orange, Green, Yellow, and Red lines, but the stops are spread out and not always near where you’re trying to go. Luckily the extra space of the less dense Northeast means that parking is usually easier.

One particular sight in Northeast has great historical value without having any superficial beauty. It is a round-topped warehouse at the corner of M and Delaware Streets NE, just south of the NoMa-Gallaudet U Metro station (Red). The thing about this particular warehouse is that it used to be known as the Washington Coliseum and it is the spot where the Beatles played their first U.S. concert on February 11, 1964 – just two days after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Further north – and technically slightly into Northwest at 140 Rock Creek Church Rd NW – is the small, charming, and historical President Lincoln’s Cottage. The cottage, built around 1842 for banker George W. Riggs, was on an estate purchased by the government to found a home for veteran soldiers – now an Armed Forces Retirement Home community. President Lincoln lived in the house for a little over a year during the Civil War and visited often to escape the bustle of the White House. It was at this house where the Emancipation Proclamation was developed. Tours of the cottage, including several of Lincoln’s possessions, require tickets and purchasing in advance is advised. Tickets are $15 for adults and can be reserved on their website for times between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm Monday through Saturday and 11:00 am and 3:00 pm Sunday. The Georgia Ave Petworth Metro station (Green, Yellow) is the closest to the cottage, but it is still almost 1 mile away.

A little over a mile southeast of Lincoln’s Cottage, at 400 Michigan Ave NE, is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. On the grounds of the Catholic University of America, the massive Romanesque-Byzantine basilica is the largest Catholic Church in North America and one of the ten largest in the world. Inside it is 400 feet long, 180 feet wide at the transepts, and 159 feet high under the dome and is beautifully made of granite and limestone. The entire building is a work of art from its glossy floor to its magnificent stained glass and light-providing dome. The basilica is easily accessible from the Metro, as it is only about 4 blocks away from the Brookland-CUA station (Red).

One mile further east of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the also lengthily named Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. The large Franciscan Monastery – completed in 1899 and located at 1400 Quincy St NE – was designed in the Byzantine style after the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul (not Constantinople) with a few Romanesque influences. Surrounding the monastery are beautiful gardens and several replicas of shrines found in Israel. Walk-ins are welcome, but the 45-60 minute tours can be reserved in advance (and are required for groups of 6 or more). Tour reservations can be made online or by calling 202-526-6800 and are available daily at 10:00 am (not available Sunday), 11:00 am (not available Sunday), 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. Tours scheduled in advance must be made at least 2 weeks ahead of the visit. The tour itself is free, but a donation is appreciated. The nearest Metro station, Brookland-CUA (Red), is approximately ¾ mile away, although there is ample parking at the monastery.

Near the easternmost point of Washington, D.C., where the Anacostia River flows into Maryland, parklands surround the river. On the western bank of the river is the United States National Arboretum, a 446 acre collection of trees, plants, and flowers being cultivated for scientific and educational purposes. With nine miles of roads and several different parking areas, the various gardens, framing structures, and reflecting pools of the arboretum is best seen by car (use the entrance on New York Ave NE, just east of US-1. Look for the sign on the right and be in the righthand lane). There is no admission charge for the park, which is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

On the western bank of the Anacostia are the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens at 1550 Anacostia Ave NE. In 1880 Walter Shaw bought a parcel of land that contained a pond and some wetlands thought to be worthless. He turned them into small but impressive water gardens that, following his death, were saved by Shaw’s daughter Helen who successfully lobbied for the federal government to purchase them. The natural, bird-friendly wetlands and lily-covered ponds are open from 8:00am to 4:00 pm November through March and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm April through October. There is no admission fee. The Aquatic Gardens are part of the larger Kenilworth and Anacostia Parks, a riverside area containing miles of pathways and athletic fields. The Aquatic Gardens are about a ½ mile walk from the Deanwood Metro station (Orange).

Last updated by Brian McNichols on February 2, 2017