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

Cleaning Up Cowtown

Lift Every Voice

 

—Georgia Avenue/Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail —

 
Cleaning Up Cowtown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
1. Cleaning Up Cowtown Marker
Inscription. The area west of this spot once was an Irish and German immigrant neighborhood known as “Cowtown.” That's because, before 1871, cows, pigs, and sheep roamed freely here, while those kept in Washington City, south of Boundary Street (today's Florida Avenue), had to be penned. A stream bordering Sheridan Avenue carried away the reeking refuse from Cowtown's slaughter houses.

While the livestock and slaughterhouses eventually left, the low-income multi-ethnic neighborhood's poor reputation remained. Odessa Marie Madre DC's own “Al Capone,” grew up here and later ran a Cowtown “jill joint” selling bootleg liquor. By the 1940s juvenile gangs ,known as the “Bonecrushers” and “Fifth Street Tigers” committed not-so-petty crimes. Then local police officer Oliver Cowan created the Junior Police and Citizen Corps, so youth could “solve its own problems.” “Kids caught breaking street lights were named Inspectors of Streets and Lights,” reported the Washington Post. Unlike the segregated Boys' Clubs and Boy Scouts, the Corps encouraged, interracial friendships and included girls. Juvenile arrests dropped dramatically.

From the 1880s to the 1950s, Garfield Hospital stood just west of here. Garfield Terrace, DC's first public housing designed
Cleaning Up Cowtown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
2. Cleaning Up Cowtown Marker
for e1derly residents replaced the hospital in 1965, bringing innovative wheelchair-accessible foot paths and community kitchens.

Corby Brothers Bakery opened across the street from here in 1911. Brothers Charles and William Corby grew very rich after inventing machines and processes that revolutionized baking and led to mass distribution of bread. 'Eventually Continental Baking bought out the Corbys and the factory turned to making Wonder Bread. Howard University then bought and adapted the old plant for offices and shops.
 
Erected by Cultural History DC. (Marker Number 8.)
 
Location. 38° 55.264′ N, 77° 1.332′ W. Marker is in Pleasant Plains, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Georgia Avenue (U.S. 29) and Barry Place Northwest, on the right when traveling south on Georgia Avenue. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2400 Georgia Avenue, Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ed Murphy Way (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Teachers and Preachers (about 500 feet away); "Strike!" (about 600 feet away); Howard University (about 600 feet
Police Officers, 1878 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
3. Police Officers, 1878
Officers of the Second Police Precinct kept order in boisterous Cowtown, 1878.
Close-up of photo on marker
away); Howard Hall (about 700 feet away); General Oliver O. Howard (about 700 feet away); Medical Care for All (approx. 0.2 miles away); Freedmen's Hospital (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Pleasant Plains.
 
Categories. AgricultureIndustry & Commerce
 
Barry Place image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
4. Barry Place
Looking west on Barry Place in Cowtown, around 1925.
Close-up of photo on marker
Sergeant Oliver Cowan image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
5. Sergeant Oliver Cowan
Junior Police and Citizens Corps founder Police Sergeant Oliver Cowan with young club members, 1946.
(Civil rights activist Walter Fauntroy became a lieutenant in one of Cowan's Junior Police squads in 1942.)
Close-up of photo on marker
Wonder Bread<br>Its Slo Baked! image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
6. Wonder Bread
Its Slo Baked!
The Wonder Bread bakery (formerly Corby's), 1949.
Close-up of photo on marker
Everywhere<br>you see it now! image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
7. Everywhere
you see it now!
1927 ad for Wonder Bread
Close-up of photo on marker
Cowtown and Garfield Hosptial image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 1, 2013
8. Cowtown and Garfield Hosptial
photographed looking west from atop Howard University's Main Building, 1910.
Close-up of photo on reverse of marker
Garfield Hospital image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
9. Garfield Hospital
Close-up of photo on marker
Treating a Patient image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
10. Treating a Patient
at Garfield Hospital
Close-up of photo on marker
Odessa Madre<br>Queen of Washington's Underworld image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 1, 2013
11. Odessa Madre
Queen of Washington's Underworld
Odessa Madre with an unknown man at the time of her 1952 arrest.
“She had started at age 17, first swearing off men and calling herself a ‘black widow,’ then spinning a web of jill joints, bawdy houses and numbers banks that eventually passed for ‘organized crime,’ albeit in a down-home sort of way. She became the self-described queen of Washington's underworld. ” — Courtland Milloy, The Washington Post, September 28, 1980.
Close-up of photo on marker
Corby Bakery Building<br>Later Wonderbread image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
12. Corby Bakery Building
Later Wonderbread
Window image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 21, 2015
13. Window
The Corby Laboratory tests every ingredient that goes into Corby Cakes. image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress, Chronicling America, 1919
14. The Corby Laboratory tests every ingredient that goes into Corby Cakes.
This Ad signed by Charles I. Corby appeared in the Washington Herald on October 4, 1919. Charles Corby's estate became The Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda Maryland.
Mrs. M. M.Brooke image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress, Chronicling America, 1922
15. Mrs. M. M.Brooke
Chemist in charge of the Corby Baking Company's Laboratory.
This ad appeared in the Evening Star, September 28, 1922.
Corby Bread Laboratory image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress, 1922
16. Corby Bread Laboratory
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 252 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on November 27, 2016.
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