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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Southwest in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Change on the Waterfront

River Farms to Urban Towers

 

—Southwest Heritage Trail —

 
Front of Change on the Waterfront Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 20, 2017
1. Front of Change on the Waterfront Marker
Inscription.
Front
You are standing in the heart of one of Washington, DC's oldest—and newest—neighborhoods. For 150 years Southwest Washington was a working waterfront community. Then urban renewal changed the landscape forever. Today Southwest is a monument to 1950s and 1960s architecture and city planning.

The city's first military post (now Fort Lesley J. McNair) was established here in 1791 on Greenleaf's Point, where the Anacostia and Potomac rivers meet. In 1978 a ferry began running to Virginia from the point. Wharves received building materials and food for the new city, while shipyards thrived. The port was particularly busy during the Civil War.

By 1900 this bustling neighborhood was fully built, home to a densely populated working-class community of 35,000. They were modest people of all backgrounds: European immigrants, urban African Americans, and migrants from nearby rural areas.

Southwest was called "the island" because the Tiber and James creeks separated it from the rest of the city. Later a canal and railroad tracks reinforced the nickname. Homey and self-sufficient, Southwest aged in place. Its modest brick and wooden rowhouses, interspersed with some elegant dwellings and many alley homes, became run down. By the 1930s reformers called it obsolete, located "shamefully...
Back of Change on the Waterfront Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 20, 2017
2. Back of Change on the Waterfront Marker
in the shadow of the Capitol." Consequently nearly all of Old Southwest—560 acres of buildings—disappeared between 1954 and 1960 for a new neighborhood free of what was then called urban blight. Southwest became an admired "new town in the city." But the forced dispersal of 23,500 people continues to raise important questions about the benefits of urban renewal.
 
Erected 2004 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 1.)
 
Location. 38° 52.594′ N, 77° 1.049′ W. Marker is in Southwest, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of M Street SW and 4th Street SW, on the right when traveling west on M Street SW. Touch for map. On the Northeast corner of 4th & M Streets SW. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1100 4th Street SW, Washington DC 20024, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Blending Old and New (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Thomas Law (about 700 feet away); Lewis House (about 800 feet away); Barney House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Wheat Row (approx. 0.2 miles away); ADA: Landmark Declaration of Equality for Americans with Disabilities
Change on the Waterfront Marker from a couple feet away image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 20, 2017
3. Change on the Waterfront Marker from a couple feet away
(approx. 0.2 miles away); 20th Anniversary of ADA July 24, 2010 (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Heyday of Four-and-a-Half Street (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Southwest.
 
Also see . . .  River Farms to Urban Towers Booklet. (Submitted on October 20, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
 
Categories. African AmericansArchitectureIndustry & Commerce
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 31, 2017. This page originally submitted on October 20, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 57 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 20, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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