Posted tagged ‘District of Columbia’

So, Where Are All the District’s Construction Cranes

March 20, 2013

At nearly every major speaking opportunity, like the Mayor’s recent State of the District address, the number of construction cranes is mentioned as an indicator of a vibrant, growing Washington. That got me wondering just where all these cranes are. So I reached out to the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development and learned the following.

Currently there are 50 active tower cranes in D.C. at 29 construction sites. While most sites only have one tower crane, a few have two or three cranes. The Blue Plains construction site, however, has twelve. I created the map below to graphically show tower crane distribution in D.C. Locations are approximate (based on address) and I’ve color coded the sites based on the number of cranes — yellow (1), green (2) and purple (3).

Depending on the rate of development, I plan to revisit this map in six to twelve months.


State of the District Address Scheduled for February 5th

January 29, 2013

SODAThe Mayor’s State of the District Address should be of interest to many. I know that the location may be difficult for some and, as the announcement states, seating will be on a first come basis, so I’m hopeful that anyone who can make it will report back to the community. The announcement from the Website is below:

Mayor Vincent C. Gray to Deliver 2013 State of the District Address on February 5

The Sixth & I Historic Synagogue Will Be the 2013 Venue for Annual Speech


Mayor Vincent C. Gray will deliver the 2013 State of the District Address, where he will report on the status of the city and his administration and outline his agenda and priorities for the coming year.


7 pm, Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, Sanctuary, 600 I Street NW


The Sixth and I Historic Synagogue is a cultural institution and community center that connects the District’s past, present and future and symbolizes the city’s multicultural nature. Originally built in 1908 as the home of Adas Israel, one of DC’s oldest Jewish congregations, the building was purchased by Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1951. It served as Turner Memorial’s home for half a century before that congregation moved to a new facility. A group of civic leaders acquired and renovated the Sixth & I building, reopening it in 2004 as a non-denominational, non-membership-based synagogue that serves as a cultural and educational center for the entire DC community. Emblematic of the rebirth of the District’s downtown, the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue has become a center for the arts, entertainment and community engagement.


Hidden Washington: Tiber Creek

September 8, 2011

Tiber Creek (or Goose Creek) is not something many people talk about much any more, much less know about, despite its importance to the early development of Washington. When one does read about the Tiber, the area most frequently referenced is the downtown section that eventually became part of the canal and was finally entombed as an underground sewer beneath Constitution Avenue along the Mall.

In the early days of the city, the Tiber’s banks were covered with large trees and bushes. The creek also provided anglers with shad, herring, eels, pike, catfish, perch, and other fish as far upstream as Pennsylvania Avenue and Second Street, NW.

According to Garnett P. Williams in his study on Washington’s vanishing springs and waterways (1977), the Tiber was a “formidable stream that drained about half of the original District of Columbia area. The headwaters began as little rills about 3 1/2 miles north of the Capitol. Many such little branches originated along Rock Creek Church Road in the northern part of the present U.S. Soldiers Home; others began a bit southeastward from that area, for example, in the vicinity of Catholic University and at the approximate neighborhood of the present Rhode Island and Montana Avenues, NE.”

Just inside the Soldiers’ Home’s fence along Rock Creek Church Road, NW, one can still see the bricked channel of the Tiber’s headwaters

James F. Duhamel (1923) also credits the Soldiers’ Home as the headwaters of the Tiber, noting that the “small stream that … feeds the lake at the west side of the Soldiers’ Home grounds and near the [Park Road] gate may be regarded as the headwaters of this historic stream.” The two lakes east of the gate are still quite evident, and anyone looking for evidence of the stream along Rock Creek Church Road will have no trouble finding it. The sidewalk along Rock Creek Church Road at the intersection of Shepherd Street is frequently wet due to the creek, and just inside the fence one can quickly identify the brick-lined stream-bed.

Going back to Williams, he describes the entire Tiber system thusly:

Flowing generally southward, the little rivulets gradually joined ranks and formed into larger branches. Four main branches were well developed as the flows reached Boundary Street (Florida Avenue). From west to east, these branches crossed Boundary Street at Eighth Street [NW] (Reedy Branch), First Street [NW], Second Street [NE], and 11th Street [NE], respectively. The two western branches came together on “O” Street between North Capitol Street and First Street [NW], forming a channel no more than about 10 feet wide. Several blocks farther near M Street, just west of First Street [NE] the third branch added its waters to the stream. From this point on, the Tiber flowed southward between North Capitol Street and First Street, [NE], crossing back over North Capitol at E Street and then southwesterly, reaching B Street (Constitution Avenue) at Second Street, [NW]. Meanwhile, the fourth main branch had combined with the stream on Massachusetts Avenue, just east of North Capitol Street, in the area now covered by Union Station.

Perhaps the best way to show the extent of the Tiber Creek system is with the 1861 Boschke map (considered one of the best early maps of Washington). Below is a portion of the Boschke map with the Tiber system highlighted.

Detail of the Boschke map with Tiber Creek highlighted

In looking at the detail of the map, one can quickly see that it was the largest stream system in the District. While the 1861 Boschke map no longer shows the mouth of the Tiber, one can get an idea from this description, again from Williams:

 … the channel started widening dramatically until it reached the base of the White House lawn where the mouth of the system met the Potomac and measured between 700 and 800 feet wide.

By 1870, however, the Tiber was in very bad condition due to deforestation along its banks and its use as an open sewer. This set the stage for the territorial government’s Board of Public Works (1871-74) to take action. The Board, along with the city commissioners who governed immediately afterward, instituted massive city-wide improvement programs that filled in the canal and transformed the Tiber south of Florida Avenue into an underground sewer — largely completed by 1880.

By 1903, as seen in this detail from the Baist’s real estate atlas of surveys of Washington, District of Columbia (v.3), most of the Tiber’s headwaters drained into the new reservoir


Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Washington, District of Columbia : Complete in Three Volumes (compiled and published from official records, private plans, and actual surveys by G. Wm. Baist, topographical engineer), Philadelphia, G.W. Baist, (1903).

Boschke, A., Topographical map of the District of Columbia, surveyed in the years 1856 ’57 ’58 & ’59, Washington, D.C.,  engraved by D. McClelland, (1861).

Duhamel, James F., “Tiber Creek,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C., Vol. 28 (1926), pp. 203-225.

McElhannony, Raymond J., “Course of Tiber Creek,” The Washington Times, (Feb. 7, 1915), p. 6.

Williams, Garnett P., Washington, D.C.’s Vanishing Springs and Waterways, [Washington, D.C.] United States Department of the Interior (1977),  (Geological Survey Circular 752).


Adding a Twist to the Art of Reading a D.C. Map

February 4, 2011

Here’s something fun for the end the week.

D.C.’s eight wards are composed of 100+ neighborhoods — roughly 131 of them depending upon how you count them.  If you would like to see all those neighborhoods typographically mapped, you’ll enjoy the crafty City Neighborhood Poster series from Ork Posters!. Park View is among the neighborhoods that fit ably within their borders.

Colors Options…

    Classic Black & White
    Patriotic Red & Blue


    Crackberry Print
    Aboretum Green
    Monumental Gray

Check out the DC Neighborhood Maps [Ork Posters!]


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