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Adams Morgan is a neighborhood in Washington, DC, in the northwest quadrant of the city above Dupont Circle, the center of which is the intersection of 18th Street and Columbia Road. Much of the neighborhood is composed of 19th- and early 20th-century row houses and apartment buildings. It is a culturally diverse area and the heart of Washington's Latino community.
The name "Adams Morgan" was once hyphenated. It derives from the names of two, formerly segregated area elementary schools, the older, all-black Thomas P. Morgan Elementary School (now defunct) and the all-white John Quincy Adams Elementary School. Pursuant to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, District schools were desegregated in 1955. The principals of the two schools formed the Adams Morgan Community Council in 1958, expressing a desire that their neighborhood reflect respect for racial and cultural diversity. The city drew boundaries through four preexisting neighborhoods and named resulting area after both schools. In the late 1960s, residents organized and worked with city officials to build a new elementary school and recreational complex, complete with a daycare center, tennis and basketball courts, a solar-heated swimming pool, health clinic and athletic field. The development was named the Marie H. Reed Learning Center after Bishop Reed, a community activist, minister and leader.
Along with its adjacent sister community to the northwest, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan long has been a gateway community for immigrants. Since the 1960s, the predominant international presence in both communities has been Latino, with the majority of immigrants coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries. Since the early 1970s, like other areas of the nation, Adams Morgan has seen a growing influx of immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, as well. Gentrification and the resulting high cost of housing have displaced many immigrants and long-time African-American residents, as well as many small businesses; but the community still retains a degree of diversity, most evident in its array of international shops and restaurants. In the five-square-block area where most of the commercial establishments are located, one can choose from a variety of ethnic cuisines, among them Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, West African, Cajun, Brazilian and Chinese. There are even a few American restaurants, including the usual assortment of fast food establishments. Adams Morgan also has become a thriving spot for night life, with a number of bars and clubs featuring live music.
Another barometer of the enduring ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity of Adams Morgan is its public schools. Adams, Reed and H.D. Cooke elementary schools all have international populations, with children from well over 30 nations in attendance. Latino and African-American children comprise the majority of students in the public schools, and virtually all are children of color. As in many parts of the nation, de facto segregation has replaced de jure segregation.
Every September, the neighborhood hosts the Adams Morgan Day Festival, a multicultural street celebration with live music and food and crafts booths. And, weather permitting, every Saturday — except during the coldest winter months — local growers sell fresh, organically grown produce and herbs; baked and canned goods; cheeses; cold-pressed apple juice and fresh flowers at the farmers market, in operation in the same location for more than 30 years.
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