D.C.'s Historic U Street Neighborhood Sees Changes

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As crowds stream through Washington, D.C., toward the National Mall, some might be traveling through the U Street neighborhood. It is a historic African-American neighborhood.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

As crowds are converging on the National Mall in Washington - and calling them crowds is understating the reality of it - thousands of people are moving onto the National Mall. We're going to check in with NPR's Allison Keyes. She's in a different place, Washington's U Street district. That's an historic African-American neighborhood. Good morning.

ALLISON KEYES: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So what are - it's still not even light yet, what are you seeing there?

KEYES: Frankly, I'm still looking at the moon on the street corner here. There are a lot of groups of people passing by here. I mean, with coffee, bundled up, hats, gloves, scarves, blankets. It's not the way U Street looks on a Saturday night when you can't move, but people are beginning to trickle down to the subways here. I'm standing in front of the Reeves Center. It's a city building where volunteers are gathering. They're going to go down to the parade route and volunteer at first-aid stations. And it is indeed historic. I heard you talking about Ben's Chili Bowl earlier, and yes, there have been lines there around the block the last couple of days. It's not open yet, or at least it wasn't about 15 minutes ago. But the workers are in there practically stacking up things, so they're expecting a major crowd today.

MONTAGNE: And the mood there sounds, from what you just said, festive. Any - you know, is that what it is?

KEYES: I'm sorry. Say that again.

MONTAGNE: The mood there, Allison. Is it as festive as you seem to be suggesting?

KEYES: The mood here is jubilation. I actually took the metro through the Mall area to get here. The Metro was packed down by the Mall, and people on their way into the U Street station, which is about a block away, are so excited. I spoke to a couple of guys, Christopher Jones(ph) and Wade McKenzie(ph), they have tickets to the purple section. Wade drove in from New Jersey overnight, and he said he would not have missed this for anything. He wants to be able to tell his kids he was here.

MONTAGNE: Allison, thanks very much. That's Allison Keyes.

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