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U Street Launches Visitor Center And Audio Tour

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The Greater U Street Neighborhood Visitor Center features maps, photos and other information about the area.
Rebecca Sheir
The Greater U Street Neighborhood Visitor Center features maps, photos and other information about the area.

By Rebecca Sheir

An area once known as Washington's Black Broadway is inviting visitors to discover, or rediscover, its attractions, culture and history. A new visitors center and audio walking tour are part of the continuing revitalization of greater U Street.

Growing up on U Street in the 1950s and 60s, Stanley Mayes says he remembers seeing legends like Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Pearl Bailey and Sarah Vaughn.

"And just by standing out on U Street and watching them as they left their performances at the Howard Theater and at many of the clubs," he says, "they would entertain people on the street, and it was just a fabulous place to really see life unfold."

Mayes was a guest at the ribbon-cutting for the Greater U Street Neighborhood Visitor Center, launched by Cultural Tourism D.C., a nonprofit coalition promoting Washington's history and arts.

The group also developed the audio tour, which features more than 20 narrators including Mayes, Kamal Ben Ali of Ben's Chili Bowl, Frank Smith of the African-American Civil War Memorial and Museuman, another voice that might be familiar to any NPR junkies out there: Korva Coleman.

Leaders at Cultural Tourism D.C. say they hope to roll out similar resources in other neighborhoods across all eight Wards; it all depends on how successful the pilot program is on U Street.

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