The Woodrow Wilson Center Press

What People are Saying

“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.”—John Muller, H-Net

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

“[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.”—Matthew Gilmore, Washington Business Journal

“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.”—Theodore Hudson, Ellingtonia

“His research is impeccable…very readable and entertaining.”—Melody & Words

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

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

“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.”—Choice

“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.”—Amber N. Wiley, H-DC, H-Net Reviews

“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, Journal of American History

“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

“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, Washington History

“A fine work that sheds light on race relations on U Street and throughout the District.”—Lopez D. Matthews Jr., Journal of African American History

Chapter List


Introduction: Washington’s Contact Zone

1. Ambiguous Roots

2. A City “Like the South”

3. Confronting the Nation

4. “Black Broadway”

5. The Last Colony

6. Chocolate City

7. “The New You”

About Woodrow Wilson Center Press

Woodrow Wilson Center Press publishes books by fellows, other resident scholars, and staff written in substantial part at the Wilson Center.