NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, African American, Diplomats, Federal Government Employees, Harlem Renaissance Era, Music, Showbiz, Veterans, Also of Interest

Duke Ellington
(April 29, 1899 – Mary 24, 1974)

420 Elm St. NW, LeDroit Park neighborhood, DC.

Edward Kennedy Ellington was one of the most prolific composers of the twentieth century.  His career as a jazz band leader lasted over fifty years.  Born in DC, he lived in seven addresses in the city in his youth, and took piano lessons from a local teacher, Henry Grant.  While still underage, Ellington began visiting juke joints and dance clubs along 7th Street NW to hear live music.  Ellington’s first paid gig with his own band, “Duke’s Serenader’s,” took place at the True Reformer’s Hall, on U Street, and his subsequent band, the “Washingtonians” was one of the leading society bands in the city.  Ellington moved to Harlem in 1923. 

Ellington is the author of an autobiography, Music is My Mistress (1973). When the US Mint issued a coin representing DC in 2009, Duke Ellington was portrayed on it, the first musician and the first African American to be featured on a US circulating coin.  He is remembered in the city with a high school and a bridge named in his honor.  Other honors include: 13 Grammy awards, a Presidential Medal of Freedom (1969), the French Legion of Honor (1973), and a posthumous special citation from the Pulitzer Prize board.

1805 13th St. NW, historic U Street neighborhood, DC.
2728 Sherman Ave. NW, Pleasant Plains neighborhood, DC.