Bloomingdale in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
—LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail —
These Victorian rowhouses were designed for well-to-do families. The houses' first floors were raised for privacy and separation from muddy streets. Basements housed maids' quarters. Towers or attics added grandeur. Upstairs sleeping porches helped residents survive sweltering DC summers before air conditioning was invented. Bay windows offered a view down the street. Numbers 2103-2133 First Street were designed and built by Thomas Haislip in 1902. He and his family lived in number 87 V Street, the grand house across V Street. Architect/builder Francis Blundon built the houses at numbers 115-127, across First Street.
Prominent Washington businessman and activist Flaxie Pinkett grew up at 122 V Street. At age 14 Pinkett began working for her father, founder of the successful real estate and insurance firm John R. Pinkett, Inc. She took over the company in 1958, and became a much-honored member of the city's business establishment. In
The Reservoir Market at First and U Streets served Bloomingdale in the 1960s. There young Barry Cohen lived with his parents above their store and sold food, cigarettes, sweaters, coats, and holiday turkeys. The neighbors "would look out for me," Cohen recalled. Everyone watched over each other."
Turn right into the alley off V Street to find a hidden gem: Crispus Attucks Park. After the 1970s closing of a C&P Telephone warehouse on this site, the community persuaded C&P to donate the property for a park and arts center. A fire destroyed the center in 1990, but the park remains, cared for by its neighbors. Return to the Heritage Trail (Sign 11) at First St. and Rhode Island Ave.
LeDroit Park and its younger sibling Bloomingdale share a rich history here. Boundary Street (today's Florida Avenue) was the City of Washington's northern border until 1871. Beyond lay farms, a few sprawling country estates, and undeveloped land where suburban communities would rise. Nearby Civil War hospitals and temporary housing for the formerly enslaved brought African Americans to this area in the 1860s. Howard University opened just north of here in 1867. Boundary
Around this time, a Howard University professor and trustee and his brother-in-law, a real estate speculator, began purchasing land from Howard University to create LeDroit Park, a suburban retreat close to streetcar lines and downtown. It took its name from the first name of both Barber's son and father-in-law. Bloomingdale was developed shortly thereafter.
For its first two decades, wealthy whites set up housekeeping in LeDroit Park. By 1893, African Americans began moving in. Soon LeDroit Park became the city's premier black neighborhood. Bloomingdale remained a middle- and upper-class white neighborhood until the 1920s, when affluent African Americans began buying houses in the area south of Rhode Island Avenue.
Among the intellectual elites drawn here was poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. The trail's title, Worthy Ambition, comes from his poem, "Emancipation": Toward noble deeds every effort be straining./Worthy ambition is food for the soul!
Although this area declined in the mid-20th century as affluent homeowners sought newer housing elsewhere, revitalization began in the 1970s. The stories you find on Worthy Ambition: LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail reflect the neighborhood's -- and Washington's -- complicated racial
Worthy Ambition: LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 2.5-mile tour of 16 signs offers about 90 minutes of gentle exercise. For more DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
Erected 2015 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 10.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 55.083′ N, 77° 0.71′ W. Marker is in Bloomingdale, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of V Street Northwest and 1st Street Northwest, on the right when traveling east on V Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2037 1st Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Separate Schools (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dividing Line (approx. 0.2 miles away); Anna Julia Hayward Cooper Residence (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fathers and Sons (approx. 0.2 miles away); Court Nullifies Racial Covenants (approx. ¼ mile away); Water for the City (approx. ¼ mile away); Government Girls (approx. ¼ mile away); A Voice from the South (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomingdale.
Also see . . . Crispus Attucks Park. (Submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.)
Categories. • African Americans • Architecture • Industry & Commerce • Women •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 21, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 98 times since then and 16 times this year. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.