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Penn Quarter is a neighborhood in the East End of Downtown Washington, D.C. north of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Its boundaries are not well established, but they appear to extend along Pennsylvania Avenue NW from 5th to 10th Streets, though some would say to 15th Street, and approximately H Street NW on the north where Penn Quarter abuts or partially overlaps with Chinatown, thua including the F Street shopping district. Others would say that Chinatown is a subarea of Penn Quarter and Penn Quarter's more natural northern boundary streets are New York Avenue west of Mt. Vernon Square and Massachusetts Avenue, east of Mt. Vernon Square. Penn Quarter has been rejuvenated over the past several decades, first under the aegis of the |Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation]] (PADC) and later, following the recession in the 1990s, by the addition of the Capital One Arena, a sports, concert and event arena that opened at 7th and F streets in 1997 as the MCI Center and was later called the Verizon Center before acquiring its current name. Penn Quarter boasts a variety of entertainment and commercial establishments including museums, theaters, cinemas, restaurants, bars, contemporary art galleries, a department store and retail shops. The area is also home to a popular farmers market and several food, wine, art, and culture focused festivals.
Gallery Place in Penn Quarter
|• Councilmember||Jack Evans|
Penn Quarter's initial growth occurred under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation whose Pennsylvania Avenue Plan called for a mixed-use neighborhood. It required development of new buildings and renovation of historic structures for residences, theaters and other cultural venues, shops, and restaurants, and also allowed hotels and office buildings with ground floor retail uses framing new parks, plazas, and upgraded pedestrian sidewalks along The Avenue. Revitalization started along The Avenue with three major developments: the Willard Intercontinental Hotel's renovation and expansion along with construction of a new adjacent office building between 14th and 15th streets; National Place, a mixed-use development that included offices, a major retail component, the JW Marriott Hotel, and a renovated National Theater between 13th and 14th streets; and the office building at 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue between 10th and 11th streets that incorporated the renovation of a significant number of historic buildings, all west of the FBI Building. At the same time, PADC renovated and expanded Pershing Park, which faces the Willard and Washington hotels, between 14th and 15th streets, and created Freedom Plaza along The Avenue between 13th and 14th streets. East of the FBI, PADC created two additional parks: Market Square Park where the Navy Memorial is located between 7th and 9th streets, and John Marshall Park just east of the Canadian Embassy. Framing Market Square Park is the mixed use development of retail shops, restaurants, offices, and residences. More residences are immediately north at Market Square North, another mixed use development that also includes offices, shops, and a restaurant, and the Renovated and expanded Lansburgh's, a former department store that is not a major apartment building with a theater and shops. The theater is home to the Shakespeare Theatre, a nationally renowned Shakespearean company. Although some existing buildings east of the FBI and smaller developments such as at the NE corner of 7th and D took place earlier on, the major developments that added cultural venues and residentces to this area downtown after their absence for some hundred years did not begin in earnest until the mid-1980s. The nearby Verizon Center, which opened in 1997, stimulated the revitalization of adjacent blocks to the north and east and was another sign that the Penn Quarter was a national model that other cities would look to for revitalizing America's downtowns. Recognition of the remarkable changes that had taken place in a major city's downtown was recognize by ULI - the Urban Land Institute in awarding both the Market Square development and PADC for the work each had accomplished. Penn Quarter became a model that other cities looked to for guidance when tackling downtown revitalization.
Penn Quarter is home to many restaurants, cultural, and entertainment venues. On Thursday afternoons in spring, summer, and fall, a farmers market is open on the F Street, NW sidewalk between 7th and 9th streets, in front of the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum. Freedom Forum had moved its Newseum from Arlinton, VA., to new building on the site along Pennsylvania Avenue at 6th Street that is next to the Canadian Embassy. At the end of December 2018 it closed the museum and arranged to sell the site and building, which includes offices and residences. to the Johns Hopkins University.
Attractions located in or near Penn Quarter include:
- Calvary Baptist Church
- Canadian Embassy
- Capital One Arena
- Ford's Theatre & Booth Alley
- J. Edgar Hoover Building – FBI headquarters
- Lansburgh's historic flagship department store building – now defunct
- Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.
- Marian Koshland Science Museum – National Academy of Sciences
- National Museum of Women in the Arts
- National Building Museum
- National Portrait Gallery
- Newseum – Freedom Forum
- Petersen House
- Shakespeare Theatre Company at the Harman Center for the Arts – includes the Lansburgh Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall
- Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Surratt House – now Wok 'n Roll Restaurant
- U.S. Navy Memorial
- Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Penn Quarter is served by the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter, Metro Center, Judiciary Square, and Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro stations, Metrobus, and the DC Circulator, which connects Georgetown, Union Station, and the attractions on the National Mall to Penn Quarter.
- John Mintz, "Lansburgh's Renovation Contract Let", The Washington Post, Apr 2, 1987, p. A1.
- Zibart, Eve "Penn Ultimate", Washington Post September 10, 2004. 
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