Near Northeast in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Hub, Home, Heart
—— Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail — —
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
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.
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
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. Touch 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); 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). Touch for a list and map 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 Work • Churches, Etc. • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 30, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 474 times since then and 44 times this year. Last updated on January 28, 2014, by A. Taylor of Laurel, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on September 30, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.