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

Alley Life

Midcity at the Crossroads

 

—Shaw Heritage Trail —

 
Alley Life Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, January 31, 2019
1. Alley Life Marker
Inscription.  You are standing at the entrance to Naylor Court. It was built in the 1860s as one of the hundreds of intersecting alleys hidden behind DC houses. Stables, workshops, sheds, and often cheap two-story houses, built for the poor of all races, filled the alleys. While many of its old dwellings are gone, a few remain in Naylor Court. It forms half of the Blagden Alley-Naylor Court Historic District.

During the Civil War housing crisis, builders crammed hundreds of dwellings into these tight spaces. Most lacked running water, plumbing, or electricity, and quickly became dilapidated. Yet the need for shelter was desperate. In 1908, more than 300 people filled 50 Blagden Alley dwellings, averaging seven per household and paying $6 a month in rent.

In 1900 Nochen Kafitz, a Lithuanian immigrant, opened a grocery in his house a few blocks away on Glick Alley. (The alley, now gone, once ran between Sixth, Seventh, and S streets and Rhode Island Avenue.) His son, Morris Cafritz (1887-1964), became a real estate developer and philanthropist.

Alley dwelling construction was outlawed in 1934, but the buildings lingered. Some
Alley Life Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, January 31, 2019
2. Alley Life Marker
hidden alleys attracted prostitutes, gamblers, drug dealers, and speakeasies. Others, though, were tight communities, where people who happened to be poor looked out for one another.

In 1990 the city moved its archives to the former Tally Ho Stables, built in 1883. Since the '70s, the small dwellings, former carriage barns, and horse stalls have housed artists' studios and residences as well as working garages.
 
Erected 2006 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 4.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Shaw Heritage Trail marker series.
 
Location. 38° 54.516′ N, 77° 1.449′ W. Marker is in Shaw, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of O Street Northwest and 9th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling east on O Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 905 O Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Spiritual Life (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (about 600 feet away); Immaculate Conception Catholic School (about 700 feet away); Community Anchors (about 700 feet away); Carter G. Woodson House
Alley Life Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, January 31, 2019
3. Alley Life Marker
(approx. 0.2 miles away); The Fires of 1968 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Seventh Street Develops (approx. 0.2 miles away); Working for the Race (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shaw.
 
Categories. Architecture
 
More. Search the internet for Alley Life.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 21, 2019. This page originally submitted on January 31, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 23 times since then. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 31, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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