NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, Dupont Circle, Architecturally Significant, African American, Children’s Literature, Harlem Renaissance Era, Journalists, LGBTQ, Radicals, Translators, Also of Interest

Langston Hughes
(February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967)

1749 S St. NW, greater Dupont Circle neighborhood, DC.

Hughes began his career during the Harlem Renaissance period, living in DC for one year and four months, then moving to Pennsylvania and New York. While living in DC, he published his first book of poems, The Weary Blues (1926), and wrote most of the poems that would become his second book, Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927). In all, he would publish 15 books of poems during his lifetime, including The Dream Keeper (1932), Let America Be America Again (1938), Shakespeare in Harlem (1942), and Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951). He also published novels, short story collections, nonfiction, plays, works for children, and two memoirs, The Big Sea (1940), and I Wonder as I Wander (1956). He began writing his popular Simple stories, short fiction about a character named Jesse B. Semple, in 1943. His letters and collected works were published posthumously.

Hughes worked at a number of jobs while in DC, all of them briefly, including working as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel and as a clerk at the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History under Carter G. Woodson. Hughes lived at this first address with his mother and younger brother Kit in 1925, in two unheated rented rooms on the second floor. The 12th Street Y was briefly the home of Hughes, also in 1925. There are excellent displays, open to the public during regular business hours, on the first and second floors, including a re-creation of a single occupancy room such as the one Hughes would have rented.

Hughes is also remembered locally with a restaurant, Busboys and Poets, named for his time working as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in DC. The Busboys and Poets located at 14th and V Streets NW has a back room performance space called the Langston Room.

 


1816 12th St. NW, Historic U Street neighborhood, DC.
Now the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage.
Open to the public. A National Historic Landmark, marked by an historic plaque.

Architect: W. Sidney Pittman
Year: 1912
The 12th Street YMCA, as it was originally known, was designed by the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington, one of the earliest registered African American architects. It was financed in part by John D. Rockefeller, and President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone in 1908. It had 54 single-occupancy rooms. The building was named a National Historic Landmark in 1994.

Links

Beltway Poetry Quarterly, "Langston Hughes in Washington, DC: Conflict and Class"
Beltway Poetry Quarterly, "Kwame Alexander on Langston Hughes"
Thurgood Marshall Center Trust
Busboys and Poets