Bloomingdale in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Water for the City
—LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail —
You are entering Bloomingdale. Its name recalls the estate of Navy Commander George Beale, who served in the War of 1812, and his wife Emily, the daughter of Commodore Thomas Truxton. The estate occupied the land now bounded by Florida Avenue, T Street, Lincoln Road, NE, and First Street. By 1891 the real estate subdivision of Bloomingdale extended to Bryant Street. The arrival of an electric streetcar line on North Capitol in 1894 encouraged the building of urban rowhouses for commuters.
Across Bryant Street to your left is the Bryant Street Pumping Station, which opened in 1904 to distribute filtered water from McMillan Reservoir. The modern pumping station propelled clean drinking water to elevations higher than its source and decreased dependence on local springs. This meant fewer cases of water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever. Pressurized water also made five hydrants reliable for firefighters.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had built the reservoir and filtering system up the hill a few years earlier. Then as now, Potomac River water flowed to McMillan through the tunnel from the Georgetown and Dalecarlia Reservoirs. Originally waters was filtered slowly through sand and stone in football-field-sized underground beds. Rapid filters replaced the slow ones in 1985.
LeDroit Park and its younger sibling Bloomingdale share a rich history here. Boundary Street (today's Florida Avenue) was the City of Washington's northern border until 1871. Beyond lay farms, a few sprawling country estates, and undeveloped land where suburban communities would rise. Nearby Civil War hospitals and temporary housing for the formerly enslaved brought African Americans to this area in the 1860s. Howard University opened just north of here in 1867. Boundary Street (today's Florida Avenue) was the City of Washington's northern edge until 1871.
Around this time, a Howard University professor and trustee and his brother-in-law, a real estate speculator, began purchasing land from Howard University to create LeDroit Park, a suburban retreat close to streetcar lines and downtown. It took its name from the first name of both Barber's son and father-in-law. Bloomingdale
For its first two decades, wealthy whites set up housekeeping in LeDroit Park. By 1893, African Americans began moving in. Soon LeDroit Park became the city's premier black neighborhood. Bloomingdale remained a middle- and upper-class white neighborhood until the 1920s, when affluent African Americans began buying houses in the area south of Rhode Island Avenue.
Among the intellectual elites drawn here was poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. The trail's title, Worthy Ambition, comes from his poem, "Emancipation": Toward noble deeds every effort be straining./Worthy ambition is food for the soul!
Although this area declined in the mid-20th century as affluent homeowners sought newer housing elsewhere, revitalization began in the 1970s. The stories you find on Worthy Ambition: LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail reflect the neighborhood's -- and Washington's -- complicated racial history and the aspirations on its citizens.
Worthy Ambition: LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 2.5-mile tour of 16 signs offers about 90 minutes of gentle exercise. For more DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
Erected 2015 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 8
Location. 38° 55.227′ N, 77° 0.891′ W. Marker is in Bloomingdale, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 2nd Street Northwest and Bryant Street NW, on the right on 2nd Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Court Nullifies Racial Covenants (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Separate Schools (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kelly Miller Residence Site (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bloomingdale (approx. ¼ mile away); Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (approx. ¼ mile away); Medical Care for All (approx. ¼ mile away); Government Girls (approx. ¼ mile away); Best in the Country (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomingdale.
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Hispanic Americans • Waterways & Vessels • Women •
Credits. This page was last revised on December 5, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 73 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.