By Frank Leone
The excellent D.C Historic Preservation Office has been issuing Heritage Guides of Washington’s eight wards over the past 12 years – and it recently issued the last one – covering our own Ward 2. You can find it here: https://app.box.com/s/bq0ov3cwfe84o673u4zh0500i1zd4qvmb. The Guide contains some Foggy Bottom highlights, including the FB and GWU/Old West End Historic Districts. Ward 2, of course, extends well beyond Foggy Bottom, and runs from Georgetown to Shaw to the Capitol to Haines Point, including the National Mall. The Guide provides an interesting timeline and overview of DC history, focusing on Ward 2. The Guide also includes an index of cultural resources that groups designated, eligible, and notable historic properties by use (e.g., Monuments) and by social history (e.g., African American Heritage).
The Guide briefly describes the growth of Foggy Bottom (p. 21). It notes that in the 19th Century, although DC did not develop manufacturing as did other cities, there were industrial activities along the waterfront, from Georgetown to the Navy Yard, including Foggy Bottom. “Foggy Bottom became the most industrialized, and much of that was attributable to the C&O Canal.” Although the C&O Canal had limited commercial success (railroads being preferred), “it was revolutionary for Foggy Bottom.” The Canal opened in 1828 and by 1870, there were 500 canal boats transporting goods to the neighborhood. “Foggy Bottom had shipyards, lime kilns, woodyards, icehouses and gasworks [and] became the epicenter of breweries.”
Those industries attracted immigrant workers, including Germans and Irish. “There were also many free African Americans in the neighborhood. Foggy Bottom in the 1850s had become one of the most diverse neighborhoods in DC.”
The Guide also briefly addresses the subsequent history of the Foggy Bottom area, including Civil War Camp Fry, the development of alley dwellings, the decline in the desirability of the neighborhood, which led to it being designated as “blighted” by the 1940s, the destruction of some of the neighborhood by the Potomac Freeway, and the construction of the Kennedy Center and the Metro system.
Also: Celebrating Native American History Month. Here is an updated post that discusses the Native American History in Washington, including some important discoveries right here in Foggy Bottom: https://www.foggybottomassociation.org/post/funkstown-no-12-original-inhabitants-dc-s-native-americans-in-foggy-bottom