Reading through the digest versions of the MVSQ listserv* I noticed an announcement by Alex Padro for an event today at the Historical Society. Yet in his introduction, “Come explore the changing streetscape of one of Washington’s oldest neighborhoods…” bugged me. How old is Shaw? With some other neighborhoods the age is a no brainer. LeDroit Park and Eckington were built by developers and you just track the date down to the developer. Georgetown, was a town, with a town government.
With Shaw, there were houses and people in the area prior to the Civil War. But so far in my own dabblings I haven’t seen any reference to the area as ‘Shaw’ until the mid 20th Century. And the earliest was at best the boundaries for Shaw Jr. High, never mind the elementary schools and the high schools. Trying to tie it down by civic/citizen associations haven’t been helpful. Back when the ECCA (East Central Civic Association), played a real role in city life, it’s boundaries were all over the the place. But regardless, it did include great parts of present day Shaw east of 7th, as well as the Sursum Corda area, and eastern Mt Vernon Sq., and it’s an early 20th Century thing.**
So, how old is this neighborhood? How is that age determined and what is it based on?
*Believe me you’ll find listservs more manageable and keep your sanity by getting some discussion lists in one daily email.
**”East Central Civic Group Seeks Vote :Improved Housing, Clean Block Drive Also on Program.” The Washington Post,p. 17. 12/7/1940.