Map of the Week Vol. 6 – Washington, D.C. and environs 1887

Click to enlarge. Source: Library of Congress

Map of the Week is written by David A., a systems librarian and map geek living in Mt. Pleasant.

This week’s 1887 map shows proposed routes north of the original city limits that never came to be. Like last week, we see New Jersey Avenue extending into Columbia Heights, but it appears that was only a proposed extension. Another proposal that never came to fruition was California Avenue, shown here intersecting New Jersey Avenue at the present-day intersection of Columbia Road and 12th Street. Columbia Heights never got the traffic circle promised in this map, but Grant Circle did end up being placed further north at New Hampshire and Illinois Avenues.

This map did get right the parkland that extends to Haines Point, more or less. The tidal basin looks a little different, but the dredged peninsula from the map looks very similar to what we ended up with.

Other highlights include streetcar lines, Deaf and Dumb Institute (later Gallaudet) and the Metropolitan Branch of the B&O Railroad and river depths. One of my favorite maps so far.

24 Comment

  • Interesting! This also does not have Truxton Circle at Florida/N Cap, but it does have another circle that was never built at Rhode Island/N Cap. The streetscape around the McMillan site and reservoir doesn’t line up at all with the modern layout, but that wasn’t completed until the early 20th century so this probably predates solid planning on that as well. The actual reservoir has a much smaller footprint than pictured here.

  • So out of favor was Georgetown that it was known as “West Washington.” Who remembers when Logan was known (by realtors, at least) as “Dupont East?”

    • saf

      In 1987, the boyfriend (now husband) lived at 15th and O NW. Yes, it was advertised as Dupont East. Ha! Shaw or Logan Circle is what I always called it.

      • i didn’t start hearing the neighborhood called logan until early 2000’s. before that it was only shaw.

        • saf

          His place was within the boundaries of the Logan Circle Citizens’ Association, which was busily fighting the neighborhood prostitution issues at that point.

    • An upcoming map will show that Foggy Bottom was once known as “Mexico.” Stay tuned.

  • Weird, I own this map and it’s framed up on my wall. I love it, but never really knew the history behind it. Does David A. know who commissioned this map and what it’s original purpose was?

  • Eckington was originally called Prospect Hill. Eckington started as name a few years after this map was made. I wonder if there was a lot of commentary then about how they were rebranding the neighborhood into some silly new name instead of keeping “Prospect Hill”.

    • +1
      “it’s just some made up name!”

    • I left my subdivisions reference at the office (true!) but here goes: That subdivision called Prospect Hill was aka Keating’s and dates from no later than 1872. It appears on maps to have been a ramshackle, working-class affair and little is left of it. I think it is mostly three DCPS campuses now. Eckington was subdivided in ’87 or ’88 to the east, so it post-dates this map. The first chunk spanned the Met Branch tracks and was halved when the tracks multiplied with the creation of Union Station. It also changed from residential to largely industrial/warehouse. Later subdivisions included “Centre Eckington” and “West Eckington” and today I guess the name applies to the first few blocks above Florida between the tracks and N Cap. “Eckington” was the name of the estate on that land prior to the subdivision.

  • Kendall Green Deaf and Dumb Institute…Probably at the time was considered to be quite progressive to have a location dedicated to the needs of such labeled individuals.

  • Very interesting! Funny how California Avenue got reduced to California Street and only several blocks.

    I didn’t realize that the name “Rosslyn” was this old. I presume it was the name of someone’s farm or something.

    • From the Wikipedia article on Rosslyn:

      Following the American Civil War in the 1860s, a lawless community developed at the base of the bridge. Known primarily for its gambling halls, pawnshops, saloons, brothels and unsavory inhabitants, the community failed to attract much development other than a large brewery, which became a Cherry Crush soft drink bottling plant after Prohibition went into effect. Eventually, spurred by the real estate potential that the arrival of electric trolleys in the 1890s inspired, developers and reformers ousted Rosslyn’s more unsavory elements in the early 20th century. Nevertheless, Rosslyn remained primarily known for its pawnshops and used car dealerships for many years.[citation needed] The Aqueduct Bridge connecting Rosslyn to Georgetown was replaced by the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge in 1923.

      • Thanks! Upon further Wikipedia-ing, I see, “In Virginia’s colonial period, Rosslyn’s shoreline contained a landing for Awbrey’s ferry, which transported travelers to and from Georgetown. A community that gradually developed behind the shore became known as Ross Lynn, the name of a local farm owned by William and Carolyn Ross.”

  • Look at all those little cemeteries in NE.

  • Pleasant Plains is huge there. Much of that has now been annexed by Park View.

  • It’s interesting to me that Brightwood was an area, it has a dot like a town.

    Also – you see how Shepherd’s Road seems like it nearly tracks the route of Missouri Ave?

    Check out Shepherd Road NW now, between 4th and 8th NW, just below Missouri. It must be a legacy stub of this original Shepherd’s Road.

  • albany

    Check out the Racetrack in northeast!

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