The Importance of the Streetcar for H Street’s Dining Scene

7 Dec

We just got back from the meeting with the mayor down on H Street regarding the H Street streetcar project and wanted to write some quick thoughts about the streetcar.  The big news of the meeting was that the streetcar is planned to begin operation (if it stays according to schedule) in summer 2013 and that it will run directly down H Street from Union Station (crossing the Hopscotch bridge above the Amtrak tracks) all the way to Benning Road and then will continue down Benning Road; it will not cut up 2nd or 3rd streets to get into Union Station.  While we are pleased that the streetcar project is progressing, we are disappointed that it will not open for over a year.

The H Street corridor has developed incredibly over the past few years (and even months), but the streetcar will help take it to the next level and continue making the area one of the top dining and going out regions in D.C.

The sooner the streetcar is operation the better for a few reasons:

The streetcar will connect east and west H Street.  The east end of H Street has featured new and popular restaurants and bars for the past few years.  Until recently, the west end of H Street had lagged behind and did not have many going out places (except for Ethiopic).  The recent openings of Tru Orleans and the Bigboard have made the west end of H Street a second destination for people going out on H Street (planned restaurants such as Boundary Road and the apartment/Giant grocery store development will continue to add to it).  However, the middle section of H Street has seen no real development over the past few years.  While there are planned developments and openings (ranging from Hikari Sushi to new apartment buildings), currently the middle section of H Street is uninviting late at night and many people do not feel comfortable walking from the eastern end to the western end.  They could take a cab from one end to the other, but for most people that is too much effort and taking a cab six blocks seems silly.  Unfortunately, that means that many people remain in either the east end or the west end but do not go back and forth.  Both people going out on H Street and the businesses lose out currently.  The streetcar will fix all of this as it will provide a quick, easy, and safe way for people to get from one end to the other.  (All of this requires that the streetcar stay open late into the night, which we think is a must).

The streetcar will provide another way for people from outside of the H Street region to get there without taking a cab or driving.  Right now whenever we go out with friends on H Street the first question we get is “how do you get to H Street?”  For those of us who live in the region it is easy: we walk.  However, as H Street continues to become more and more of a hot spot for dining and going out, it needs to be more accessible.  Currently, people from outside of the H Street region can drive and park or take a cab.  Potentially you could walk from the Union Station Metro, but many people from outside the area are uncomfortable walking there at night and that only gets you to the west end of H Street (see above).  In the past, a shuttle ran from near the Verizon Center to H Street, but this shuttle no longer exists. The streetcar will fix this problem by allowing people to go from Union Station and the redline Metro to both ends of H Street.  While the current streetcar plan does not have the streetcar going directly into Union Station (which is not perfect or how we would have liked it designed), the streetcar will be close enough to Union Station that people will be able to get from the Metro to the streetcar easily and safely.  The streetcar will provide an additional and convenient way for people to get from other regions to H Street.

We hope that the streetcar will stay on schedule (or even be ahead of schedule) so that everyone who loves H Street or wants to explore H Street for the first time can enjoy it.

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One Response to “The Importance of the Streetcar for H Street’s Dining Scene”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 2013: The Year Ahead for H Street’s Dining Scene « District Cuisine - December 26, 2012

    […] conductors beginning in fall 2013, but the DC streetcar has a history of delays (see our post here on why the streetcar is so important for the H Street dining […]

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