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Washington in the '90s

Premieres Tuesday, July 10 at 8:00pm on TV 26 and WETA HD

WETA TV 26 takes viewers on a journey through a time not long ago, but which now seems a world away. Washington in the '90s recounts the major events, people and places of a decade in which the District of Columbia transitioned from a city of crisis, to a city of opportunity.

Washington in the '90s Slideshow

  • Mayor Marion Barry is surrounded by reporters outside the U.S. District Court House in Washington. Barry’s arrest for drug possession in January 1990 and subsequent trial captivated the District and the nation. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
    Mayor Marion Barry is surrounded by reporters outside the U.S. District Court House in Washington. Barry’s arrest for drug possession in January 1990 and subsequent trial captivated the District and the nation. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
  • Street festival in Mount Pleasant neighborhood in NW Washington. The 1980s and early 1990s saw a large increase in Washington’s Latino population as many refugees from war-torn Central America settled in Mount Pleasant and Adams Morgan. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
    Street festival in Mount Pleasant neighborhood in NW Washington. The 1980s and early 1990s saw a large increase in Washington’s Latino population as many refugees from war-torn Central America settled in Mount Pleasant and Adams Morgan. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
  • Construction site in front of Lincoln Theatre, which would become the entrance to the U Street-Cardozo Metro station. Excavation and digging for Metro’s Green Line, which opened in 1991, caused headaches for U Street businesses and residents, but the project ultimately helped rejuvenate the neighborhood. (Credit: Michael Horsley)
    Construction site in front of Lincoln Theatre, which would become the entrance to the U Street-Cardozo Metro station. Excavation and digging for Metro’s Green Line, which opened in 1991, caused headaches for U Street businesses and residents, but the project ultimately helped rejuvenate the neighborhood. (Credit: Michael Horsley)
  • Mayoral candidate Sharon Pratt Dixon at a campaign event. Dixon became the first African American woman to serve as mayor of a major American city when she was elected in 1990. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
    Mayoral candidate Sharon Pratt Dixon at a campaign event. Dixon became the first African American woman to serve as mayor of a major American city when she was elected in 1990. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
  • Metropolitan Police officers investigate a crime scene on a city street. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Washington experienced a sharp increase in crime related to the crack epidemic. The city earned the notorious designation as the “murder capital” of the United States after posting an astounding 482 homicides in 1991. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
    Metropolitan Police officers investigate a crime scene on a city street. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Washington experienced a sharp increase in crime related to the crack epidemic. The city earned the notorious designation as the “murder capital” of the United States after posting an astounding 482 homicides in 1991. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
  • Two men embrace at the March on Washington for Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, April 25, 1993 on the National Mall. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
    Two men embrace at the March on Washington for Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, April 25, 1993 on the National Mall. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
  • Marion Barry and Abe Pollin embrace. Pollin opened the MCI Center in 1997 during Barry’s final term as mayor. The new arena, which was built to house the Washington Capitals and Washington Bullets (now Wizards) franchises, transformed the Chinatown neighborhood. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
    Marion Barry and Abe Pollin embrace. Pollin opened the MCI Center in 1997 during Barry’s final term as mayor. The new arena, which was built to house the Washington Capitals and Washington Bullets (now Wizards) franchises, transformed the Chinatown neighborhood. (Credit: Darrow Montgomery)
  • Smashing Pumpkins’ front man Billy Corgan performs at the new 9:30 Club during the venue’s opening weekend. After years at its cramped original location on F Street, the popular club moved to a much larger space at 815 V Street in January 1996. (Credit: Brian Liu)
    Smashing Pumpkins’ front man Billy Corgan performs at the new 9:30 Club during the venue’s opening weekend. After years at its cramped original location on F Street, the popular club moved to a much larger space at 815 V Street in January 1996. (Credit: Brian Liu)

Featured People

Washington in the '90s features interviews with many notable Washingtonians including former mayors Sharon Pratt and Anthony Williams; journalists Cokie Roberts, Pat Lawson Muse, and Tom Sherwood; Washington Redskins legends Darrell Green and Joe Jacoby; America Online founder Steve Case; music club owners Dante Ferrando and Seth Hurwitz; Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis; and former first lady of Washington D.C. Cora Masters Barry. The program is narrated by Doreen Gentzler, longtime news anchor at NBC4.

Music from Washington in the '90s

From C&C Music Factory to Nirvana, Washington in the '90s features a long list of tunes from the decade. But you don't need to dust off your walkman or CD player to listen, just login to your Spotify account.

Trivia Quiz: How Well Do You Remember Washington in the '90s?

Marion Barry (Photo credit: Darrow Montgomery)

How well do you know Washington in the '90s? Test your memory with our new trivia quiz and find out if you are in touch like a pager, need some jogging like a discman, or have thrown it all away like an AOL trial CD!

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Relive the '90s on Boundary Stones

Boundary Stones

Having trouble remembering the era of flannel and grunge? For more on many of the topics covered in Washington in the '90s, check out our Boundary Stones local history blog!

Go to the blog →

Share Your Memories

Remember Marion Barry's downfall and comeback? The last Redskins Super Bowl? The opening of the MCI Center? Y2K?

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Preview: Washington in the '90s

WETA TV 26 recounts the major events, people, and hot spots of 1990s Washington, D.C.
Arrest of Marion Barry

Arrest of Marion Barry

In January 1990, Mayor Marion Barry was arrested in an FBI sting operation.

Mount Pleasant Riots

Mount Pleasant Riots

In May 1991, simmering tensions between police and Latinx refugees boiled over.

9:30 Club Moves to V Street

9:30 Club Moves to V Street

Facing competition from new venues like The Black Cat, the 9:30 Club was forced to move.

Blizzard of '96

Blizzard of '96

The storm of the decade dumped over 17 inches of snow on Washington, January 6-8, 1996.