Old Town West in Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Hump: Open Lots For Blocks
"It was so cold that you could go to bed and see the moon shining (through the walls). The snow'd come through them cracks on your feet...Ice'd freeze on the washstand...It'd freeze in your bedroom...We had to go to a pump to get water to wash with. The pump
Considered one of Alexandria's several historic African American neighborhoods, the Hump appears to have remained ethnically diverse and was characterized by wide open spaces that were utilized for agriculture, public refuse disposal, and social life. In the 1950s many of the homes and small businesses in the neighborhood were razed as part of urban renewal.
"We're talking about 1915...We played baseball because there were plenty of open spaces. We could build a baseball diamond any place. We played marbles in the street. Played spin tops in the street...there was open lots for blocks and blocks. No houses whatever." —Buster Williams, a neighborhood resident in the early 1900s, from oral history recordings owned by the Office of Historic Alexandria.
Vacant lots on these blocks were used in the 1940s and possible earlier by the African American-owned and -operated traveling tent variety show, Silas Green from New Orleans, which toured th South by rail between 1904 and 1957.
Part revue, part musical comedy, part minstrel show, Silas Green became one of the longest-lasting tent shows in American show business history
"... there used to be a Silas Green show and that was a very entertaining show under a tent. They would come to town with a tent and they would have entertainment. We never paid, we just kind of looked under the tent and watched...." —James E. Henson, Sr., a neighborhood resident in the mid-20th century, from oral history recordings owned by the Office of Historic Alexandria.
Erected by City of Alexandria.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Man-Made Features. In addition, it is included in the Virginia, The City of Alexandria series list.
Location. 38° 48.86′ N, 77° 2.85′ W. Marker is in Old Town West in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker can be reached from the intersection of North Alfred Street and Montgomery Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 840 North Alfred Street Park, Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. James Bland Homes (here, next to this marker); Smoot Lumber Company Planing Mill The Memorial Pool (about 600 feet away); Robert Robinson Library 1940 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Saint Joseph's Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Parker-Gray High School (approx. 0.2 miles away); Alexandria Canal Turning Basin (approx. ¼ mile away); Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railroad (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Old Town West.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 22, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 983 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on March 22, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.