When you say Capitol Hill and Washington D.C. in the same sentence, one image probably comes to mind:
But two weeks ago – prompted by a note I’d scribbled from an article in an in-flight magazine, and accompanied by my like-minded travel friend, Jill -- we headed out to find the‘other’Capitol Hill; the one that is home to the Eastern Market, Washington D.C.’s oldest continuously operating fresh food market.
The Eastern Market was established in 1805 by President Thomas Jefferson in the Navy Yard area. In 1873 this market building was completed in the Capitol Hill area (several blocks east of the Capital Building) to serve as its home. The market was part of a larger, city-wide market system that was created at the end of the Civil War, a time when city fathers were under pressure to get rid of the sleepy southern village image of the town.
It was the first market built as part of a 1870’s public works program. The outside structures were added in 1937 to provide shelter for vendor stands that set up near the building's entry. (If you are thinking the building looks pretty modern for its age, that’s because it was badly damaged by fire in 2007, rebuilt and re-opened in 2009.)
It was calm and relatively empty on the September Wednesday morning of our visit, a stark contrast to the weekends' hustle and bustle, we learned. The pace intensifies during the growing season when fresh food vendors offer their just-harvested produce for sale.
Having been born and raised in Central Washington, (the “other Washington” on the West Coast in an agricultural area that proudly called itself ‘The Fruit Bowl of the Nation”) I found this stand to be a bit lacking in size and selection. On the flip side, it was fascinating because I’d never imagined produce being grown on ‘Maryland’s Eastern Shore’ before.
We spent a good deal of time admiring all the goodies that were on display – delectable and delightful:
And then we set off to explore the neighborhood. These taverns and eateries are just across the street from the market’s main entrance.
We strolled just a few blocks from the market and found . . .
So many beautiful homes and gardens that we couldn’t take enough photos of them all.
A stunning church, Christ Our Shepherd Church (801 N. Carolina Ave.) became the focus of our photo-fest. The building is a a stone Romanesque that was built in the 1890’s.
There weren’t a lot of folks snapping photos because we seemed to have been the only tourists roaming the area that morning. Our somewhat off-the-beaten-path outing put a heart and soul on Capitol Hill. I'll never again think of it only as the power hub of our nation’s government.
I’d recommend a visit to this charming neighborhood the next time you find yourself in ‘that Washington”.
If You Go:
The Washington D.C. Metro system is a fabulous and inexpensive way to get to all of Washington’s popular sites.
To the Market: Take either the orange or blue line and get off at the Eastern Market station. As you emerge onto the street from the Metro tunnel, follow directional signs to the Market, about two blocks away.
For more information on The Eastern Market, and the many activities that take place there, click this link to its website.
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