From the 1950s through the late 1990s, D.C. was known as Chocolate City, because it was the first majority-Black major city in the United States. The city was home to prominent Black people who owned their own businesses. Influential Black leaders including Duke Ellington, Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune, Chuck Brown, Marvin Gaye, Langston Hughes and Mary Church Terrell have all resided in the District.
Starting in the early 2000s gentrification crept through the cracks of the city. In 2019, a study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that D.C. had the most gentrifying neighborhoods of any city in the country. (The District dropped to No. 13 on the list last year.) D.C. went from having over a population that was more than 70% Black in 1970, to roughly 46% as of 2019.
In Wards 7 and 8, gentrification is making its way east of the river. Barry Farms, a historic public housing development in Ward 8 that has been home to Black residents since the end of the Civil War, has been slated for redevelopment for years, but has been tied up in litigation over the residents that have been displaced.