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

Washington Before Washington

Washington Before Washington Marker Front image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, November 13, 2017
1. Washington Before Washington Marker Front
Inscription.  In 1608 Captain John Smith sailed up the Potomac, the first European to lay eyes on this site. At that time, ships could sail up to this point, and beautiful bluffs led down to the water. Algonquin Indians lived here in great numbers, drawn by stone quarries, fertile soil, fish and waterfowl, buffalo and deer. They called the river the Patawmeck. By 1700, as more settlers arrived, the Indians retreated into the Blue Ridge.

In 1751, George Town was formally established by the Maryland Assembly to provide inspection stations and shipping facilities for tobacco, the area's major crop. The land for the town was bought from two Scotsmen named George--George Beall and George Gordon--but the town was actually named after King George II. George Town proved an ideal port from which ships laden with tobacco could sail to Europe. Huge sums were made from the insatiable demand for tobacco in both Europe and America. Many who owned large tracts of land elsewhere lived in George Town, an economic powerhouse to which slaves were brought into provide labor and to serve the merchants' households.

George Town was incorporated with an elected
Washington Before Washington Marker Back image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, November 13, 2017
2. Washington Before Washington Marker Back
government in 1789. Two years later, President George Washington selected the location for the new capital city, and included the existing George Town. Washington met here with Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and others to plan the new capital and to secure land from the area's wealthy landowners. Washington appointed Andrew Ellicott to conduct the land survey. Ellicott was assisted by Benjamin Banneker, a free black man and self-taught mathematician. Washington also selected Pierre L'Enfant, a French-born American citizen who had served in Washington's Continental Army, to design what became a visionary plan for the new capital.

In 1800 the government moved from Philadelphia to Washington City. George Town's businesses and institutions made it the social and economic center of the new Capital City. Many members of the First Federal Congress resided here. Even Abigail Adams, the White House's first First Lady, sent someone daily to George Town to do the marketing.

Restoration of Georgetown's Call Boxes

Georgetown's Call Box restoration project is part of a city-wide effort to rescue the District's abandoned fire and police call boxes. Known as Art on Call, the project has identified more than 800 boxes for restoration. Neighborhood by neighborhood, they are being put to new use as permanent displays of
Washington Before Washington Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, November 13, 2017
3. Washington Before Washington Marker
local art, history and culture. The Georgetown project highlights the anecdotal history of Georgetown and its unique heritage as a thriving colonial port town that predated the District of Columbia.

Police alarm boxes such as this one (originally painted blue) were established for police use starting in the 1880s. An officer on foot - as most were in the late 19th and early 20th centuries - used the box to check in regularly with his precinct or to call for backup if needed. The police boxes were locked, opened and by a big brass key that officers carried. Inside was a telephone that automatically dialed the precinct's number. Checking in regularly was a way to make sure the patrolman was doing his job, and also a way to make sure he was safe. Use of the call box systems began to decline in the 1960s with the advent of two-way car radios and walkie-talkies. The phones were finally disconnected in the 1970s and replaced with today's 911 emergency system.

Art on Call is a program of Cultural Tourism DC
with support from
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Creates Public Art Program
DC Department of Transportation
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

Citizens Association of Georgetown
Alexis Maximilian Rubin

Erected by Cultural Tourism DC.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Art on Call marker series.
Location. 38° 54.583′ N, 77° 3.048′ W. Marker is in Georgetown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on P Street Northwest west of 23rd Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2500 Q Street Northwest, Washington DC 20007, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Taras Shevchenko Memorial (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Across 23rd St. and Rock Creek (about 600 feet away); Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) (about 700 feet away); The Gilded Age (about 700 feet away); Assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni K. Moffitt (about 800 feet away); Liberation of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg (about 800 feet away); Tomáš G. Masaryk Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Eleftherios Venizelos (approx. 0.2 miles away).
Categories. African AmericansIndustry & CommerceNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers
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Credits. This page was last revised on March 17, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 13, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 82 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 13, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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