Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
John Wilkes Booth’s Escape
Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
“My brother saw Booth as he came down the alley and turned into F Street.” —Henry Davis, 1901.
Twelve-year-old Henry Davis and his brother often looked out the back window of their Ninth Street home before they went to bed. They were fascinated by the comings and goings of actors and stagehands at the rear of Ford’s Theatre, at the other end of the alley on 10th Street.
On the evening of April 14, 1865, Henry went to bed early, but his brother stayed up and was a witness to history. He saw a man limp from the back door of the theater, struggle onto a horse being held for him, and dash down the alley toward F Street. It was the famous actor and Confederate supporter John Wilkes Booth, the matinee idol of his day. He had just shot President Lincoln as he sat in his box, watching Our American Cousin.
Booth had been trying to capture the president for months. Now the plan was to murder Mr. Lincoln, but this plan had come together only hours before. At six p.m., Booth and his co-conspirators met at the Herndon House, which once stood just steps from
Azerodt’s will apparently failed him. Powell severely wounded Seward. But Booth’s bullet hit home. The full story is told at Ford’s Theatre around the Corner on Tenth Street and in the Petersen House across the street where Lincoln died at 7:22 the next morning. Booth would be apprehended and killed in a Virginia tobacco shed 12 days later.
John Wilkes Booth escaped down the alley next to this sign after shooting President Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. (Historical Society of Washington, D.C.)
[John Wilkes Booth] (National Portrait Gallery)
[Wanted Poster] "$10,000 Reward! ... (Historical Society of Washington, D.C.)
[Engraving of Booth escaping on horseback] (Washingtoniana Collection, D.C. Public Library)
right: An artist’s 1880s rendering of the alley stage entrance to Ford’s Theatre. (Washingtoniana Collection, D.C. Public Library)
below: Ford’s Theatre looms over a muddy Tenth Street as it looked the day after Lincoln’s assassination. The restored theater is just around the corner on Tenth
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number .6.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & Politics • Notable Events • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Booth's Escape, the Downtown Heritage Trail, the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #17 Andrew Johnson series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is April 14, 1849.
Location. 38° 53.836′ N, 77° 1.492′ W. Marker is in Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is on F Street Northwest west of 9th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling east. Marker is on the F Street sidewalk (south side), just east of the alley between 9th and 10th Streets. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 918 F Street Northwest, Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Restoration of 800 F Street (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Roy Lichtenstein (about 300 feet away); Woodies Comes to F Street (about 400 feet away); Site Of The Old Carroll Hall (about 400 feet away); The Christian Index (about 400 feet away); St. Patrick's Parish (about 400 feet away); Knights of PythiasDiscover DC / Gallery Place (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
Also see . . . Booth's Escape Byway, Maryland Office of Tourism. (Submitted on August 19, 2019.)
Additional keywords. William Seward; Andrew Johnson; Villain
Credits. This page was last revised on July 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on March 10, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,761 times since then and 111 times this year. Last updated on April 16, 2020. Photos: 1. submitted on March 10, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2. submitted on July 21, 2021, by Ray Gurganus of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on March 10, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 4. submitted on March 14, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 5. submitted on April 5, 2020, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.