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The Awesome Map is Back!! “Click a building, see the original permit date and number.”

by Prince Of Petworth — November 29, 2016 at 9:45 am 19 Comments


Almost exactly a year ago we got a preview of a phenomenal map about the history of DC buildings. Of course the map was immediately taken down for some reason. Well it is back and in full effect! Thanks to Betsy for sending from the DC Office of Planning:

“The D.C. Historic Preservation Office announces the launch of HistoryQuest DC, a GIS-based web map that provides historical data on approximately 127,000 extant buildings in Washington, D.C. The historic data is easily retrievable and can be queried and mapped, providing a new tool for illustrating the city’s building history and patterns of urban development.”

As I said the first time we saw it – Warning a serious time suck in the best of ways for those of a particular proclivity. Perfect for this rainy day!!

  • Josh

    Anyone else having problems with the map? It worked a few minutes ago.

  • Matt

    Not showing up for me either. I see the map but no overlays and properties aren’t searchable.

    • NH Ave Hiker


    • Brian Kraft

      ESRI: “Intermittent issues with Hosted Feature Services.”

  • MR

    The map works for me but maybe I’m using it wrong? When I click on buildings I don’t see a permit date/number or any other information.

    • MR

      I closed my browser and reopened the link, and this time it worked. Cool site. I love that the building name for the Dupont Safeway is “Soviet Safeway.”

      • jenster8dc

        Oh, yeah, that’s been the neighborhood name for that Safeway for years — at least since the late 80s, when the lines were long and the selection was terrible!

  • oh2dc

    Works for me. Maybe try a different browser? Also, the search feature is a little finicky. I have to spell out street instead of using “ST”

    • Marty

      finally got it to work under IE. the Chrome browser on my .gov computer is about 2 years old, and it won’t run this page.

  • ExWalbridgeGuy

    This is awesome… does anyone know a resource to determine what structures existed at a site previously to the current one though? There’s some newer buildings around where I live and I always have wondered what used to be there and don’t know how to find out.

  • Who lived in dat house?!

    So my property mentions a microfilm number? Does anyone know where these microfilms are kept, and what is shown on the microfilm (picture, blueprints, permit/docs?)


    • Brian Kraft

      Go to the Washingtoniana Division at the MLK Library. They have a set of microfilm for the DC historical building permits. The information that you see in the pop-up on the map comes from the permit to build. You’ll probably learn a little more by looking at that permit on microfilm yourself, but you might not. You will almost certainly not find photos or drawings along with that permit on microfilm. You might find other permits for your house, such as repairs or additions, but you’d have to look for those. The librarian at the desk will be happy to help you.

  • Thomas Smith

    People who are interested in this excellent map may also like Wymer’s DC, http://www.wymersdc.com/ . It allows you to flip back and forth between photos taken around 1950 and modern Google Street View images of the same place. It’s got far less GIS data muscle behind it than Brian Kraft’s work here, but it’s still fun to look at!

    Of course I should mention that it’s my side project with my wife, HSW research services librarian Jessica Smith.

    • Brian Kraft

      LOVE this Wymer map and enjoyed meeting Jessica at the recent Historical Studies Conference. Great functionality in the map, which I assume you are at least partly responsible for. Really fun. Great collection.


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