Southwest in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Recreation and River Park
River Farms to Urban Towers
—Southwest Heritage Trail —
Washington's schools and playgrounds were legally segregated from 1862 until 1954. But that didn't stop kids of all backgrounds from playing together. "We didn't understand racial disharmony," said Southwester Gene Cherrico of his childhood on Sixth Street in the 1950s. "Everybody was equal. Everybody was poor." Yet playground monitors tried to keep the races apart. Through the trees ahead of you is the King-Greenleaf Playground, formerly the white-only Hoover Playground amid a largely black neighborhood. Randall Playground, some five blocks ahead, was operated for black children, and whites were regularly shooed away.
For adults, though, social time was more segregated. When public housing first opened here, residents met in social and self-improvement groups such as the Syphax Homemakers Club. Long past the 1953 court-ordered end to segregation in public accommodations, the adults of Southwest found entertainment on their own sides of the Fourth Street dividing line. African Americans enjoyed Bruce Wahl's restaurant and summertime beer garden at Fourth and C streets. Whites gathered at waterfront watering holes such as Hall's Restaurant, at Seventh and K. Founded in 1864, Hall's had been a favorite of General U.S. Grant.
To your right are the townhouses and highrises of River Park. Architect Charles
From 1800 until 1950, Southwest was Washington's largest working-class, waterfront neighborhood. Then beginning in 1954, nearly all of Southwest was razed to create an entirely new city in the nation's first experiment in urban renewal. The 17 signs of River Farms to Urban Towers: Southwest Heritage Trail lead you through the Modernist buildings erected in the 1960s while marking the sites and stories—and the few remaining structures—of the neighborhood that was. Follow this trail to discover the area's first colonial settlers and the waves of immigrants drawn to jobs on the waterfront or in nearby federal government offices. Here Chesapeake Bay watermen sold oysters and fish off their boats. The once-gritty streets were childhood homes to singer Marvin Gaye and movie star Al Jolson. Later residents included Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and other legislators.
River Farms to Urban Towers: Southwest Heritage Trail, a booklet capturing the trail's highlights, is available at local
Erected 2004 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 16 of 17.)
Location. 38° 52.48′ N, 77° 0.949′ W. Marker is in Southwest, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on N Street Southwest east of 4th Street SW. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: 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 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wheat Row (about 600 feet away); Lewis House (about 600 feet away); Harbour Square (about 700 feet away); Linking the "Island" to the City (about 700 feet away); Barney House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Change on the Waterfront (approx. 0.2 miles away); Housing Reform and the Syphax School (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Southwest.
Additional keywords. segregation
Categories. • African Americans • Charity & Public Work •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 16, 2018. This page originally submitted on December 28, 2017, by Devry Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 87 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 28, 2017, by Devry Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.