Penn Quarter is a neighborhood in the East End of Downtown Washington, D.C. north of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW and southeast of the Metro Center shopping district. Penn Quarter has been rejuvenated over the past several decades, stimulated first by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) and later, following the recession in the 1990s, by the Capital One Arena, a sports, concert and event arena that opened nearby at 7th and F streets in 1997 as the MCI Center and was later called the Verizon Center. Penn Quarter now boasts a variety of entertainment and commercial establishments including museums, theaters, restaurants, bars, and contemporary art galleries. The area is also home to a popular farmers market and several food, wine, art, and culture focused festivals.
Penn Quarter's initial growth occurred under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation whose Pennsylvania Avenue Plan called for a mixed-use neighborhood. It was to include residences, offices, theaters and other cultural venues, retail, hotels, and restaurants in both new and renovated buildings framing new parks and plazas. Revitalization started with a number of developments west of the FBI Building to 15th Street, most significantly the renovation of what today is the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, and the creation of new parks and plazas, including Pershing Park, Freedom Plaza, and the Navy Memorial. Market Square, The Pennsylvania, and the former flagship store of Lansburgh's department store on 7th Street were at the forefront of the revitalization efforts east of the FBI Building beginning in the mid-1980s.
Penn Quarter is home to many restaurants, cultural, and entertainment venues in Washington, D.C. The neighborhood is served by a variety of recreational and entertainment facilities including seven theaters, Lucky Strike bowling and several exercise clubs. Other neighborhood amenities include several coffee shops and a teahouse / restaurant on 8th Street; three salons with day spas; the nearby Landmark E Street Cinema, which screens independent films; Regal Theater; and shops selling clothing, jewelry, ice cream, and books, among other things. Over the past thirty years the neighborhood has transformed from a sleepy, nondescript part of downtown into a vibrant 24-hour residential and commercial community.