Foggy Bottom: A Historical Slice of Washington D.C.

real estate  /   /  By Tracy

Washington D.C. abounds with historical significance. Pieces of American history are scattered throughout the different neighborhoods, while modern Washington is also full on view. Yet one of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington D.C. is Foggy Bottom. This piece of Washington D.C. is said to have received its name due to its close proximity to the river. It is also reflective of the foggy nights prior to its development.

Originally home to German settlers, by the 1800s, it was a neighborhood of laborers for the local gas works, glass plants and breweries. The neighborhood was designed with housing surrounding open squares. Yet influxes of immigrants during the 1960s saw workers living in the alleys and squares of Foggy Bottom.

Foggy Bottom

Foggy Bottom

The situation did not improve with the wave of freed slaves throughout the 1870s after the Civil War. Today the alleys reflect decades of work by various commissions, such as the Alley Dwelling Authority, to improve their conditions and reduce the crime rates. Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the individuals who worked specifically to improve the conditions of the residents of the alleys.

Foggy Bottom is also a culture hub as home of the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Watergate Complex, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Friendship Lodge Odd Fellows Hall. When the U.S. Naval Observatory was first built, its home was this small neighborhood in Washington D.C. Visitors regularly flock to the area to view these national landmarks and get to touch their national roots.

But the history of Foggy Bottom is also a story of a neighborhood that went from being working class to an upper crust district. One of the major drivers of this change was the ADA, which did most of the work in cleaning up the alleys. Thus, most of the affordable housing in the district disappeared. The neighborhood has also lost its racial diversity as the black working class disappeared along with much of the alley housing. It is this gentrification reflects the conditions of many neighborhoods in Washington D.C., replicating the crisis of affordable housing in its various regions.

Today, this district is home to George Washington University and the U.S. Department of State. Thus, the educational and political stamps of the region are present in this tiny neighborhood. The university itself occupies most of the district. Thus, the university brings a significant cultural stamp to area in the form of the arts and music. The population reflects the political as well, with members of the State Department working and living in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Embassies also call Foggy Bottom home.

As one walks the streets of Foggy Bottom, the presence of history can be felt throughout this quaint neighborhood

Foggy Bottom

Foggy Bottom

The World Bank and IMF are also located in this piece of Washington D.C. Visitors here can meet celebrities, dignitaries and diplomats, showcasing how the east and west of the U.S. come together in Washington D.C. Restaurants and shops have grown up to meet the needs of the residents, as well as the college students and other visitors. Still as one walks the streets of Foggy Bottom, the presence of history can be felt throughout this quaint neighborhood.

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