News & Politics

Do You Know the History Behind the Names of These DC Businesses?

Yes, there's a reason it's called Barber of Hell's Bottom.

Boundary Stone takes it name from stone markers placed around Washington in the early 1800s. Image via @boundarystonedc on Instagram.

With a booming population and a transformed cityscape, Washington is in the midst of tremendous change. But even as that happens, the very people helping remake it appear fascinated by DC’s history. Take the names of these businesses.

Moreland’s Tavern

The 16th Street Heights spot nods to the Civil War–era Moreland Tavern, which was located near Georgia and Missouri avenues and housed officers who defended nearby Fort Stevens from a Confederate attack.


The Shaw restaurant which has recently closed created cocktails referencing Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Adam Sandler comedies, and other cultural landmarks. Behind Thally (the “h” is silent) sits a building that in the late 1800s was Tally Ho Stables.

Boundary Stone

A Bloomingdale pub offering daily deviled-egg specials, it takes its name from the 40 stone markers placed around the city in the early 1800s to designate its borders. Many are still in place.

Barber of Hell’s Bottom

Not a lost song from Sweeney Todd but rather a men’s grooming chain with three DC locations. Shaw in the late 19th century was riddled with crime and poverty, earning the nickname Hell’s Bottom.

Red Light

Just off 14th Street, this bar serves cocktails on a heated patio. Hard for newcomers to imagine, but way back in the late 20th century, 14th Street was known for prostitution and porn.

This article appears in the February 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Erika Huber
Editorial Fellow

Erika joined Washingtonian in September 2017. She received an English degree from Towson University and has written for Investment U and Elite Daily. After graduating, she worked in financial publishing as a copy editor. She resides in Maryland.