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Near Northeast in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Swampoodle

Hub, Home, Heart

 

—— Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail — —

 
Swampoodle Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
1. Swampoodle Marker
Inscription. This is the western edge of what once was the rough, working-class Swampoodle neighborhood.

In the early days the marshy Tiber Creek ran between what are now North Capitol and First Streets, NE. Legend has it that lingering rain puddles ("poodles") led to the neighborhood's nickname.

Swampoodle's earliest residents, mostly Irish immigrants and free African Americans, helped build this city. Their hands crafted the White House and the Capitol, among other buildings. Swampoodle grew during the Civil War (1861-1865), when more once-enslaved people arrived seeking work. In the 1880s Italian stonecarvers and masons found affordable lodging here while building the Library of Congress, Union Station, and the National Cathedral.

In the early 1900s, Congress located Union Station in Swampoodle. Hundreds of homes and businesses disappeared as railroad tracks were laid and the station rose. Many of the displaced moved east, settling today's H Street corridor.

Soon the city rezoned the remaining Swampoodle area for commercial/industrial use. Railroad, Government Printing Office, light industry, and Post Office jobs made nearby H Street attractive to more families.

Swampoodle's large immigrant Catholic population drew two institutions honorong Jesuit Saint Aloysius Gonzaga: St. Aloysius Catholic Church, dedicated
Tiber Creek image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
2. Tiber Creek
Tiber Creek with bridges at G and H Sts. The Swampoodle neighborhood became dryer after the creek was diverted to an underground pipe in 1876.
in 1859, and Gonzaga College High School, founded in 1821 and relocated beside the church on North Capitol Street in 1871.

In the early 1950s, Father Horace McKenna revived a shrinking St. Aloysius, refocusing it to serve the neediest. Father McKenna founded So Others Might Eat (some), Martha's Table, Sursum Corda Cooperative, and other enduring programs providing meals, clothing, child care, and shelter.

(Back):
Trains and streetcars created the Near Northeast neighborhood around H Street. The B&O Railroad's arrival in 1835 made this a center of energetic, working-class life. Workmen living north of the Capitol staffed the Government Printing Office, ran the trains, stocked the warehouses, and built Union Station. When a streetcar arrived linking H Street to downtown, new construction quickly followed.

H Street bustled with shops and offices run by Jewish, Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Irish, and African American families. During the segregation era, which lasted into the 1950s, African Americans came to H Street for its department stores and sit-down restaurants. Most businesses welcomed all customers.

Then came the civil disturbances in the wake of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968. Decades of commercial decline followed. Just off H Street, though, the strong residential community endured. The 2005 opening of
Map and the Neighborhood image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
3. Map and the Neighborhood
Top: This 1903 map shows a portion of Swampoodle overlaid with a plan for Union Station. Swampoodle extended north to New York and Florida Aves., west to First St., NW, and east to Second St., NE.

Lower Left: Thanksgiving Day, 1896, for Irish immigrants Patrick and Margaret Kennedy Lane, center, and their family at 515 H St. The house Patrick built was still there in 2012.

Lower Right: The Whistle Bottling Works, formerly a Pabst brewery across from the GPO, employed nearby residents.
the Atlas Performing Arts Center signaled a revival, building evocatively on H Street's past. Hub, Home, Heart is a bridge to carry you from that past to the present.

Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 3.2-mile tour of 18 signs offers about two hours of gentle exercise. Free keepsake guidebooks in English or Spanish are available at businesses and institutions along the way. For more on DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
 
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 3.)
 
Location. 38° 53.836′ N, 77° 0.2′ W. Marker is in Near Northeast, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of F Street, NE and 2nd Street, NE, on the right when traveling east on F Street, NE. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20002, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Roll Out the Barrel (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Gateway to The Nation's Capital (about 500 feet away); The Freedom Bell (approx. 0.2 miles away); Christopher Columbus (approx. 0.2 miles away);
Catholic ties in the community image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
4. Catholic ties in the community
Top: Photographed around 1915 were Annie O'Neill Garner, daughter of Irish immigrants, with husband George and their nine children, all of 9 K St. NW, in Swampoodle. Eldest son Francis became a priest, serving St. Aloysius Church and Gonzaga College High School.

Bottom: More than 1,000 students of Gonzaga College High School and nearby Notre Dame Academy High School attended opening day mass at St. Aloysius Church, 1938.
Community Caretakers (approx. 0.2 miles away); Delaware Avenue & Columbus Circle, NE (approx. 0.2 miles away); "All Aboard" (approx. ¼ mile away); “The President’s Trees” (approx. ¼ mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Near Northeast.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail
 
Categories. Charity & Public WorkChurches, Etc.Notable Buildings
 
Rev. Horace B. McKenna image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
5. Rev. Horace B. McKenna
The Reverend Horace B. McKenna, S.J., founder of SOME (So Others Might Eat).
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
6. Back of Marker
Stonecarvers image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
7. Stonecarvers
Stonecarvers working on the Library of Congress, 1894.
Map of the H Street Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
8. Map of the H Street Heritage Trail
Swampoodle Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
9. Swampoodle Marker
The Neighborhood Today image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
10. The Neighborhood Today
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 452 times since then and 22 times this year. Last updated on , by A. Taylor of Laurel, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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