Judiciary Square in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Sitting in Judgment
Civil War to Civil Rights
—Downtown Heritage Trail —
This imposing, Greek Revival style structure was designed by George Hadfield as Washington's first City Hall/Courthouse. Throughout its history, the building has housed the local and federal courts for DC, presided over by judges appointed by the U.S. president with the consent of the U.S. Senate.
In 1874 Congress took over city operations, ending home rule. DC lost the right to elect a mayor and city council. The courts and municipal offices remained in the mayor-less City Hall. For nearly a century, until limited home rule was restored, three commissioners appointed by the U.S. president ran the city.
As part of steps to return home rule to the city in 1970, Congress reorganized DC's judicial system. It removed local cases from federal jurisdiction and created the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to hear everything from traffic violations to criminal matters. The Superior Court's Family Division moved into the Old City Hall/Courthouse. An expanded DC Court of Appeals became the District's court of last resort.
In 1999 the worn-out courthouse closed to await rehabilitation. Ten years later, after extensive renovation, the building re-opened as the DC Court of Appeals.
Some of the most noteworthy trials in our city's history have taken place here. In 1867 John Surratt faced trial
Charles Guiteau fared worse. In 1882, despite evidence of insanity, Guiteau was convicted of mortally wounding President James Garfield. He received the death penalty.
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 Douglass, 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 and institutions along the way. To download the free Civil War to Civil Rights Audio Tour, and learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CuturalTourismDC.org.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights marker series.
Location. 38° 53.7′ N, 77° 1.06′ W. Marker is in Judiciary Square, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Indiana Avenue, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located on the south side of the DC Court of Appeals Building - on Irving Street, midway between 4th and 5th Streets, NW. 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. A Courthouse Reborn (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Building Out the Square (about 400 feet away); Senator Daniel Webster (about 400 feet away); Daniel Webster (about 500 feet away); DC Recorder of Deeds Building/WPA Era Murals (about 500 feet away); Albert Pike Monument (about 600 feet away); Washington City Spring (about 600 feet away); National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Judiciary Square.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Also see . . .
1. Lott Flannery, sculptor (Submitted on August 11, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Tribute to Lincoln by Benjamin B. French,. Washington Evening Star - April 15, 1868 (Submitted on August 11, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
3. District of Columbia City Hall ["Old City Hall"]. (Submitted on August 11, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. Jurisprudence; Lott Flannery, sculptor
Categories. • African Americans • Government • Notable Buildings • Notable Events •
Credits. This page was last revised on August 15, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 719 times since then and 45 times this year. Last updated on August 12, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1. submitted on May 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 2. submitted on August 21, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on May 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 11, 12, 13. submitted on August 11, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.