News & Politics

Adams Morgan’s 18th Street Will Become a Pedestrian Zone on Select Sundays

The zone's pilot program will last from August until October.

The block of 18th Street was previously closed off at the beginning of the pandemic, but it only lasted one weekend. Ted Eytan/Flickr.

It’s official: A portion of 18th Street, Northwest, in Adams Morgan will become a pedestrian zone one Sunday per month between noon and 10 PM as part of a new pilot program.

The zone between Columbia and Kalorama roads will be closed off on August 21, September 4, and October 23. The closure follows a pilot program early in the pandemic when the street was closed for vehicle traffic over a weekend. The Adams Morgan Business Improvement District proposed a trial for a permanent monthly zone at an Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting in May but only received a mayor’s order to move forward with the program on Monday, Washington Post reporter Fritz Hahn tweeted after breaking the news yesterday. The BID received $525,000 grant from the Streets for People program, which funds new public spaces in the city.

“The objective of the pedestrian zones is to provide economic recovery for all of the businesses in Adams Morgan,” Kristen Barden, Executive Director of the Adams Morgan Partnership BID, tells Washingtonian in an email. “Closing the street to vehicular traffic allows for more pedestrians, bicycles and scooters and creates a safe space for people to dine, shop, and explore the neighborhood offerings.”

Outside vendors aren’t allowed in the zone, but the block will include pop-up style entertainment, such as street performers and outdoor workshops, and “streateries.” Businesses can also set up tables outside their locations. The BID wants to eventually install permanent metal cables that can stretch across the width of the street to close off traffic while the zone is operating; for now it will use trucks and police cars to block off the streets.

In 2020, the Adams Morgan Commercial Development Coalition, a group of local business owners, developers, and ANC commissioners, pushed to make the closures permanent in an effort to “reinvent” the thoroughfare. The coalition brought in the international architecture firm Perkins Eastman to help with the project, and the Adams Morgan ANC unanimously passed a plan for the pedestrian zone, which appeared later that month. But a timetable for  future closures was unclear until this week.

“After the Mayor’s June 2020 pilot street closure, we received overwhelming support that the closure assisted our business’ recovery,” Barden writes. “For the last two years, we have worked tirelessly with our DC government and community partners to bring back the Pedestrian Zone in support of our businesses, neighbors, and visitors.”

Though the first few closures are part of a trial, the BID’s grant includes seven full weekend closures on a monthly basis, Barden tells Washingtonian, and the group hopes to expand the days and times when the street is closed off in the future.

Maggie Hicks
Editorial Fellow