Anacostia

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Map of Washington, D.C., with Anacostia highlighted in maroon.
Anacostia Historic District
Anacostia is located in the District of Columbia
Anacostia
Location Roughly bounded by Good Hope Rd., 16th St., Mapleview, Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°51′53″N 76°59′8″W / 38.86472°N 76.98556°W / 38.86472; -76.98556Coordinates: 38°51′53″N 76°59′8″W / 38.86472°N 76.98556°W / 38.86472; -76.98556
Built 1854
Architectural style Italianate, Cottage style
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 78003050[1]
Added to NRHP October 11, 1978

Anacostia /ænəˈkɒstiə/ is a historic neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Its downtown is located at the intersection of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. It is located east of the Anacostia River, after which the neighborhood is named. Like the other quadrants of Washington, D.C., Southeast encompasses a large number of named neighborhoods, of which Anacostia and Capitol Hill are the most well known. Anacostia includes all of the Anacostia Historic District that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1] Often the name Anacostia is incorrectly used to refer to the entire portion of the city that is southeast of the Anacostia River.

History[edit]

The name "Anacostia" comes from the anglicized name of a Nacochtank Native Americans settlement along the Anacostia River.[2] Captain John Smith explored the area in 1608, traveling up the "Eastern Branch"—later the Anacostia River—mistaking it for the main body of the Potomac River, and met Anacostans.[3]

The core of what is now the Anacostia historic district was incorporated in 1854 as Uniontown and was one of the first suburbs in the District of Columbia. It was designed to be financially available to Washington's working class, many of whom were employed across the river at the Navy Yard; its (then) location outside of and isolated from the city made its real estate inexpensive. The initial subdivision of 1854 carried restrictive covenants prohibiting the sale, rental or lease of property to anyone of African or Irish descent. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, often called "the sage of Anacostia," bought Cedar Hill, the estate belonging to the developer of Uniontown, in 1877 and lived there until he died in 1895. The home is still maintained as a historical site in Anacostia.

During the Civil War, Anacostia was protected by a series of forts upon the hills southwest of the city. Following the conclusion of the war, the forts were dismantled and the land returned to its original owners.

Anacostia, always part of the District of Columbia, became a part of the city of Washington when the city and District became coterminous in 1878.

Great Depression[edit]

In 1932, during the Great Depression, unemployed World War I veterans from all across the country marched on Washington to demand immediate payment of a bonus promised to them. The event became known as the Bonus Army Conflict. Most of the Bonus Army camped on Anacostia Flats, a swampy, muddy area along the Anacostia River later reclaimed as Anacostia Park/Fairlawn Park. Fearing civil unrest, the President ordered the military to disperse the campers from Washington. The Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur dispersed them, but exceeded the orders of President Herbert Hoover by crossing the bridge to Anacostia and torching the veteran's encampment. MacArthur believed that the Bonus Army was composed of and led by Communists. George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower served under MacArthur during these events.

Post-war years[edit]

Anacostia's population remained predominantly European-American up until the late 1950s and early 1960s, with Whites comprising 87% of the population. During the 1960s, the Anacostia Freeway (I-295) was constructed. The highway imposed a barrier between the Anacostia neighborhood and the Anacostia River waterfront. Numerous public housing apartment complexes were also built in the neighborhood. With the flight of much of the middle class out of the neighborhood during the late 1950s and 1960s with the opportunity to move to newer housing in postwar suburbs, Anacostia's demographics changed dramatically as the neighborhood became predominantly African American. Later events with the rise of drugs and poverty adversely affected the area.

Shopping, dining, and entertainment facilities throughout greater Anacostia are limited, as development slowed with a decrease in income in the area. Residents often must travel to either the suburbs or downtown Washington for these services. Anacostia, however, does have a year-round ice skating rink at Fort Dupont Park; the city police boys' club; and a "tennis and learning center", combining sports with academic tutoring in Congress Heights.

In 2005, Building Bridges Across the River opened the 110,000-square-foot (10,000 m2) Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) which is home to eleven nonprofit organizations, all of which share the goal of helping children and adults reach their full potential. Free summer evening jazz concerts are also given weekly in Fort Dupont Park. The annual Martin Luther King Birthday Parade is a notable annual event along the Avenue bearing Dr. King's name. Starting in 2006 the annual parade date was changed from January to April. (Also see the separate article on Congress Heights). In January 2007 a new large supermarket opened to serve the neighborhood.

Geography[edit]

Anacostia downtown is located at the intersection of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. It is the most famous neighborhood[citation needed] in the Southeast quadrant of Washington, located east of the Anacostia River, after which the neighborhood is named.

Demographics[edit]

As of the 2000 Census, Anacostia's population is 92% African-American, 5% Non-Hispanic White, and 3% other.

Landmarks[edit]

The Anacostia Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. The historic district retains much of its mid-to-late 19th-century low-scale, working-class character, as is evident in its architecture.

In 1957, an Anacostia landmark, the World's Largest Chair, was installed at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and V Street, SE. The chair was installed by the Curtis Brothers Furniture Company and built by Bassett Furniture. In the summer of 2005, the "Big Chair" was removed for repairs, then returned in April 2006.[4]

Industry[edit]

Notable facilities in the area include Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (formerly Bolling Air Force Base and Naval Support Facility Anacostia).

Tourism[edit]

Founded in 2000, the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative plans to revitalize a 45-acre (180,000 m2) piece of the Anacostia River waterfront to promote community and appreciation of one of the District of Columbia's greatest natural resources.

Plans include numerous parks restored of their natural wetlands and forests, canoe tie-ups, a playground, a four-acre 9/11 Memorial Grove, and an Environmental Education Center. The Center will engage visitors in learning about the history and use of the Anacostia River through a 9,000-square-foot (840 m2), two story complex topped by a green roof/nursery center with classrooms, labs and a multipurpose area beneath.[5] Studios Architecture was chosen to be the Architect of the project,[6] while the administrating agency will be the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation.

Hospitals[edit]

Crime[edit]

High crime rates, associated with drug trade, reached a peak in the 1990s. In 2005, 62 of the 195 homicides in Washington, D.C. occurred in the 7th District of the Metropolitan Police Department, which also includes the neighborhoods of Barry Farm, Naylor Gardens, and Washington Highlands. This figure is down from the 7th District's peak of 133 homicides in 1993.[7]

Athletics[edit]

The Washington Nationals professional baseball stadium is located on the North side of the Anacostia River in southeast Washington.

Education[edit]

District of Columbia Public Schools operates public schools. Anacostia High School serves Anacostia.[8] Ballou High School is in southern Anacostia. The area has a number of middle and elementary schools, and is also the location of Thurgood Marshall Academy.

Culture[edit]

Transportation[edit]

The neighborhood, served by the Anacostia Metro station, is a ten minute ride on Washington Metro's Green Line from downtown Washington; other Metro stations on the Green and Orange Lines serve other parts of Greater Anacostia.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Portal icon District of Columbia portal

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ Humphrey, Robert L., Mary Elizabeth Chambers (1977). Ancient Washington: American Indian Cultures of the Potomac Valley. George Washington University. 
  3. ^ McAtee, Waldo Lee (1918). A Sketch of the Natural History of the District of Columbia. H.L. & J.B. McQueen. 
  4. ^ Schwartzman, Paul (April 16, 2006). "The Big Chair, Rebuilt to Last". Washington Post. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  5. ^ "Kingman Island and Heritage Island Parks". Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "Studios Architecture". Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  7. ^ "Crime and Activity Statistics". Metropolitan Police Department. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "Attendance Zones for Neighborhood High Schools" (PDF). Office of the Chief Technology Officer. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "Hours & Locations." District of Columbia Public Library. Retrieved on October 21, 2009.

External links[edit]