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Poor Hubert Humphrey. The history of the space meant to honor him—the 900 block of G Street NW—actually unfolded a lot like the liberal icon’s beloved Great Society. It opened, in 1978, amid great hope: By closing off a downtown street, the District was embracing the then-trendy idea that pedestrian plazas would improve communities. Alas, Humphrey Plaza quickly became a spot for panhandlers to hang out and lunch-hour strollers to avoid. In 1999, as the prevailing winds of urban design shifted, G Street was re-opened in the name of economic dynamism. Today, the thoroughfare helps ferry customers to dynamic spots like the nearby Chinatown Fuddruckers.
Back when Humphrey’s name was banished from the plaza, a local political hopeful told City Paper the next step was to find another plaza and rename it. That hasn’t happened.