Howard University is definitely in an urban area, it is located right smack dab in the middle of North West, Washington DC, and is definitely a city school. The area around Howard is a little complex, the immediate surroundings of Howard is not the best, Howard is honestly located in the “ghetto”, and the surrounding area is not the safest place in the world. It is very important to try and not walk around the surrounding areas of the campus by yourself especially at night. When Howard students step off campus they generally become targets for the local residents to rob or harass. The reason I said Howard’s surrounding area is complex, is because the immediate streets around Howard are not the safest areas, and are considered to be lower class, and even ghetto, but two or three blocks off of the campus are great areas of DC. DC is a city where you can be in a really dangerous area one minute then walk about fifty feet and be in a really nice upper class area. When walking near campus the area is very dangerous and there isn’t very much besides a McDonalds, liquor stores, and rundown buildings, but if you walk two blocks away you are on U Street, which has nice houses, bars, restaurants, art galleries etc. Also if you go near dorms such as Meridian, and Slowe Hall, you will find nice classic DC style houses, and great shopping areas in Columbia Heights. So when stepping off of Howards campus you will find it to not be the most pleasant area, but if you take the proper precautions, and get outside of the immediate area you will find great places to hangout safely (but keep in mind there are also other dangerous parts of DC away from Howard).
Howard is an open campus. When you walk out of a building, what you see is the city. We are the Hilltop, so we are sitting on one of the highest points in the city so you can see just about everything. At certain points on campus, you can see a man made reservoir, you can see the capitol from some spots, you can see the Washington monument, you can see someone else's house that may not go to Howard, you can see a homeless person on your way to the metro, you can see life. Howard may help you, but does not shelter you; here are the mecca, the whole world is yours to see everything from the prettiest buildings, to reality. You see what your eyes allow you to, and if your smart enough, you'll take away a lot more from those moments, than the moments you sit inside of a classroom.