Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Ceremony at the Crossroads
Civil War to Civil Rights
—Downtown Heritage Trail —
It took two days for the grand parade of 200,000 victorious Union soldiers described by the great American poet and Civil War nurse Walt Whitman to march down Pennsylvania Avenue past this spot, headed for review by President Andrew Johnson at the White House.
Whitman might have been standing right here on May 23 or 24, 1865. This had been the ceremonial and commercial crossroads of the city since the federal government moved to the banks of the Potomac River in 1800. Pennsylvania Avenue has been an inaugural parade route for every President since Thomas Jefferson. For 130 years, this triangular space before you was the city’s town square–home of the Center Market where Cabinet secretaries, government clerks and laborers alike might be seen with a live chicken under the arm.
All around you are reminders of the Civil War. A statue of Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, a hero at Gettysburg, commands a small park across Seventh Street. In the plaza across Indiana Avenue, stands a memorial to the founder of the Grand Army of the Republic, Dr. Benjamin F. Stephenson, dedicated by a few hundred grizzled veterans in 1909. The building where Civil War photographer Matthew Brady had
Today, some of the history made here is preserved in the great neo-classical National Archives building just across Pennsylvania Avenue. Market Space is now the hub of a new downtown, alive with theaters and restaurants, a new sports arena, museums, shops and homes–a mixture of activities that reflects its historic role as the heart of the nations’s capital.
The Civil War (1861 - 1865) transformed Washington, DC from a muddy backwater to a center of national power. Ever since, the city has been at the heart of the continuing struggle to realize fully the ideas for which the war was fought. The 25 signs that mark this trail follow the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglas, and others, famous and humble, who shaped a nation and its capital city while living and working in historic downtown DC.
Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided tour consists of three distinct loops: West, Center, and East. Each one-mile loop offers about an hour of gentle exercise.
A free booklet capturing the trail's highlights is available at local businesses
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number .2.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights marker series.
Location. 38° 53.64′ N, 77° 1.308′ W. Marker is in Penn Quarter, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 7th Street, NW and Indiana Avenue, NW, on the right when traveling north on 7th Street, NW. Touch for map. Marker is one block north of Pennsylvania Avenue and across the street from the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro rail station. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20004, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. General Winfield Scott Hancock (within shouting distance of this marker); Grand Army of the Republic (within shouting distance of this marker); National Council of Negro Women (within shouting distance of this marker); America's Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); The Navy Memorial - from Bow to Stern (about The United States Navy Memorial (about 300 feet away); Chief Petty Officers' (about 400 feet away); Welcome Aboard! (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Fraternal or Sororal Organizations • Government • Heroes • Peace • Politics • Roads & Vehicles • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,625 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on December 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 1, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 6. submitted on December 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 7, 8. submitted on July 1, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. submitted on December 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.