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The Big Chair in Washington, DC's Anacostia neighborhood - Things to do in Anacostia

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Venture into southeast DC and discover Anacostia, a vibrant neighborhood with museums, bike paths and a rich African American history.

As one of America’s most unique cities, Washington, DC seamlessly offers a full range of international, national and local cultural experiences. Explorers interested in learning about some of the local African American history and culture should ride the Metro’s Green Line to Anacostia.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Cedar Hill in Anacostia - African American History and Culture Sites in Washington, DC

One of neighborhood’s most famous draws is Cedar Hill, the home of Frederick Douglass and now an historic site run by the National Park Service. Guided tours are your only way inside the home, which includes artifacts that belonged to the former slave-turned-nationally renowned abolitionist. In addition to Douglass' home, some 500 other buildings comprise the Anacostia Historic District, featuring unique two-story cottages, Italianate-style architecture and Queen Anne-style homes.

About a mile away from Cedar Hill you’ll find the recently renovated Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, which is committed to the study of challenges facing contemporary urban communities. Exhibits highlight life as a local for many black residents, as well as immigrants like the permanent Bridging the Americas exhibit, highlighting Zonians and Panamanians.

Once known as Uniontown, Anacostia was one of Washington, DC’s earliest suburbs. Many employees of the Navy Yard, located just across the 11th Street Bridge in today’s Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, bought homes in the area during this time.

@canon_cl - Summer day at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens - Free park in Washington, DC

For as well documented as its history is, Anacostia also provides a serene natural retreat for walkers, hikers and bikers. Hop on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (it connects the east and west sides of the river at the 11th Street Bridge and South Capitol Bridge) and explore it from Poplar Point, part of National Capital Parks-East, northeast to the nearby Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. Volunteers looking to contribute and positively impact the local ecosystem can link up with the Anacostia Watershed Society.

For more fun in Anacostia, see what performances are going on at the Anacostia Playhouse, cruise around on some old-fashioned skates for free at the Anacostia Roller Skating Pavilion or enjoy art located inside the Anacostia Arts Center. Another neighborhood claim to fame is the Big Chair, a 19-and-a-half-foot tall sculpture and relic from a 1950s-era furniture company, once said to be the “World’s Largest Chair.”

Locals Love

The Big Chair is the most Instagrammable object in the neighborhood, the Anacostia Arts Center and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, which has documented local history in the neighborhood

Getting There

Take the Metro to the Anacostia station on the Green Line or hop on the Circulator route, Potomac Avenue Metro–Skyland via Barracks Row. By car, get there via the 11th Street Bridge, which served as John Wilkes Booth's escape route on the night of the Lincoln assassination.