Southwest in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Change on the Waterfront
River Farms to Urban Towers
—Southwest Heritage Trail —
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... in the shadow
Erected 2004 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 1 of 17.)
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); Recreation and River Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); Wheat Row (approx. 0.2 ADA: Landmark Declaration of Equality for Americans with Disabilities (approx. 0.2 miles away); 20th Anniversary of ADA July 24, 2010 (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 Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
Categories. • African Americans • Architecture • Industry & Commerce •
Credits. This page was last revised on February 13, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 20, 2017, by Devry Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 70 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 20, 2017, by Devry Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.