April 01, 2011

1968 riots at 7th & T Streets NW

This is the third in a series on the Scurlock photo archive. Read the others.

The 1968 riots burned and economically destroyed many commercial districts throughout Washington.  Riots came to U Street, too, and several properties which were obliterated have not entirely recovered from the devastation.

After World War II, many of America’s cities faced population and economic decline as the nation suburbanized; Washington was certainly no exception. The retail corridors on 14th St NW, U St NW, and H St NE were already declining when riots hit American cities in 1968 following the Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Addison Scurlock (1883-1964) was Washington’s most prominent black photographer and when the riots started in April 1968, Mr. Scurlock['s sons, who inherited his studio] at 9th and U Streets (where Nellie’s now stands) knew that [they were]he was witnessing history in the making. Mr. Scurlock The Scurlocks photographed rioters at the beginning of the riots and photographed some of the aftermath.

The corner of 7th Street, Florida Avenue, and Georgia Avenue suffered from the mayhem. The southwest corner now houses a CVS and a parking lot on land that Howard University owns. Beneath this store runs the Metro tunnel between the Shaw and U Street stations. Back in 1968, this site featured a strip of retail stores until the riot.

One of the most striking Scurlock photos is of the northwest corner of 7th and T Streets NW, where the CVS currently stands.  Rioters burned the buildings that stood on the site.


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4 Replies

  1. Interesting to note – the destruction of that storefront later enabled WMATA’s trains to make the turn from 7th St on to Florida/U St when under construction. There were several locations where turns in the Metro tracks required the acquisition and demolition of buildings. The core of the Mid-City line makes several such bends but was largely able to make them via vacant lots.

    Alex B. - April 1, 2011 @ 8:55 am
  2. it’s interesting to note that the building on the northwest corner of georgia and florida appears to have been popped up since 1968. i’ll have to look at it more closely next time i bike by.

    IMGoph - April 1, 2011 @ 9:14 am
  3. VERY cool post!!!!

    shaw rez - April 1, 2011 @ 6:01 pm
  4. Neat to see the transition!

    stu - April 4, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

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