The Triangle Known as Truxton Circle: Stick a Pin in It!

Back in 2017, I and two artist neighbors set up an exhibit at 410 GoodBuddy called The Triangle Known as Truxton Circle. I have a few things sitting on my computer from the exhibit that I’d like to share. Between no childcare and attempting to telework in less than ideal conditions, yes, I’m not posting much. But I can post this from the exhibit.



If your house existed in 1970, please take a colored pin and stick it on your house.

One pin per household.

Triangle Known As Truxton Circle: Bulldoze a road through it

Back in 2017, I and two artist neighbors set up an exhibit at 410 GoodBuddy called The Triangle Known as Truxton Circle. I have a few things sitting on my computer from the exhibit that I’d like to share. Between no childcare and attempting to telework in less than ideal conditions, yes, I’m not posting much. But I can post this from the exhibit. First is the image then the exhibit text. Enjoy.

Freeway Plan circa 1957-1960

2016, Digital Print on Foamboard

This is a map of what could have been. It is an undated planning map from the National Capital Planning Commission. Truxton Circle is the upper green area of the map. In this version I-395 does not stop at New York Avenue but continues north to meet with a planned east-west freeway between P and U Streets.

Do you know why I-395 ends where it does?

Who would these freeways serve?

If the freeway didn’t stop at New York Avenue, would your house still exist?

Truxton Circle Population 1880-2010

So I was cleaning up and found this and decided to post this helpful table.

Truxton Circle Population 1880-2010
Year Total Black White Other/Asian Note
1880 1511 678 832 0
1900 4723 2438 2281 4
1910 6801 2232 4565 4
1920 7234 3008 4221 6 4-Chinese
1- Japanese
1- White/Chinese
1930 6175 4455 1712 6 All Chinese
1940 8244 6519 1718 4 Note: 3 Japanese
1 Chinese
Total also 8244
1950 7720 6186 1511 23
1960 6789 6716 58 15
1970 5830 5768 21 41 2 yrs post riot
1980 3349 3249 61 39
1990 3623 3347 189 87
2000 2997 2713 103 181
2010 3028 1964 816 248

Source: US Census


Truxton Circle- People and a lost traffic circle

If you haven’t seen it arleady Left for LeDroit has a post on the Truxton Circle and how you can still find it’s outline today.
And I think I can say I can now start the writing portion of Truxton Circle 1900. I cleaned up a lot of data, deleted addresses that you’d think were in the study area, but aren’t and tracked down people for whom some enumerators were too drunk to write down their addresses. When I started out whites outnumbered black residents by a smidgen. With the data clean-up and address removal, blacks outnumber whites by a smidgen and I still have 4 Chinese guys.
There was this one fellow, Paul Pearson, of 218 N Street. He was a white DC born Druggist, who lived with his Maryland born wife, Emma, and owned his home free and clear. According to the 1899 city directory he worked at 500 New Jersey Avenue NW. The National Association of Realtors building sits where his workplace sat. Considering where his home and work were located he must of had a pretty good commute. And if memory serves me right there was a streetcar nearby that could have taken him straight there.

What should I do with this data

Because my study area of Truxton Circle for the 1900 census (actually all of the censuses) has angles and odd streets, my cousin will capture data for houses outside the study area. For example I have some of the 300 block of M Street, which is in Mount Vernon Square. Also parts of the even side of New Jersey Avenue, the 1100 block of 3rd, and a few odd houses that happen to fall outside the study area.
So what should I do with these bits of info? I won’t be factoring them into my study, but I would hate to just delete them. Any suggestions?

More census data- ED 104 year 1900

Don’t say the unemployed have nothing to do. My cousin whom I have tasked to give me census data in exchange for room, board, and a mictroscopic stipend is getting pressure from her unpaid internship and parents to do other stuff. But regardless I got more data, this time enumeration district 104 which covers North Capitol, parts of 1st, the alley behind 1st (so distictive it doesn’t even get a real name) unit blocks of Hanover, Bates, Q, O, and P. Here is just a taste of what I got:
46 Bates St Kraft, Annie Head White Female (born)Jul 1861 38yo Widowed (born)Maryland Ireland(parent) Ireland(parent) ???(occupation) Rented
She lived with her twin daughters aged 18, Emily & Katryn, who were hairdressers, 16 yr old daughter Mabel a saleswoman, 15 year old son Albert, a salesman for a grocery store, and 14 year old daughter Ida who was still in school. They shared 46 Bates with another family consisting of 4 people.
I still have yet to do quality control for ED 64, but it looks like I might be done with 1900 by mid January.

The past is a weird country you only get to visit via travelogues

I was chatting with my cousin about the census project. We were on the topic of occupations. Some bewilder her, like hustler and huckster and compositor. Then there are others where she was amazed at the sheer number of laundresses. Lota lota laundresses. Off the top of my head I was trying to remember the history of Washington DC domestic service, along with the history of American consumer culture and the rise of the home washing machine and indoor plumbing, which would have made a laundress unnecessary. Later, conditions changed where the “need” & “supply” for domestic servants (another large female occupation) disappeared.
She also noted the large number of people in one house, also unusual for our time, normal for then. I explained that several houses in the neighborhood were two or more units. You can see it with some of the Bates Street houses still, where there are two doors, one for the lower unit, and another for the 2nd floor unit. Regardless, there would be three generations sharing a house or a unit.
Another shocking thing I told her, not revealed in the data, but coming from the whole laundress and plumber (a biggy for white males) discussion, was the lack of running water in many neighborhood houses. Yes, not every house had running water inside. Think of all the things you use that requiring water on command (toilets, dishwasher, shower, etc) and imagine not having that. I illustrate this for her I recalled one of our late grandmother’s odd habits such as keeping a chamber pot under her bed. She had running water, but she was, eh, mentally ru-ral. The running water problem lasted up till about the late 50s or 60s in parts of Shaw.

Renting and owning in the upper TC 1900 style

This is the one chart I’ve managed how to figure out to do. I could go through the training course to figure out Access 2007, but right now I’m going to fool around with it and hope for the best. So in fooling around with the data I present the above. It is the level of ownership and renting for blacks, whites and one Chinese guy, divided by gender. Just going by heads of households, blacks outnumbered whites in the northern (1st, O St, NJ, FL & RI Aves) portion of the Truxton Circle study area, and most households rented. There were two types of ownership shown here, mortgage and free. Free, meaning free and clear, meaning no mortgage and the heads owned the house outright.
Now given that most housing is rental housing it would stand to take it that people where a bit mobile, as renting a house doesn’t tie one to a place for any longer than the lease. It will be interesting to see if I can get to the 1910 census how many people remained in the same spot for 10 years or more. I’m gonna bet very few, less than 5-10%. Looking through I know that at some point there is a large influx of North Carolina and South Carolina Afro-Americans who show up in later censuses, so far I see a lot of District natives, and people from Maryland and Virginia. And just as a note, so far no Italian borns, I’m guessing all those Italians who were around to support the Catania were living in an enumeration district we haven’t gotten to, or had not arrived. Well when I get the eastern TC data I’ll play with that too.

SQUEEEE!!!! Census data

Ah, the best use of an unemployed college graduate and a spare room. I hired my cousin to do some data entry on the 1900 census and she has just completed enumeration district 64, which is the northern part of the TC. Enumeration District 64 (ED64)goes from the 1400 block (odd #) of NJ to the 1700 block, Florida and Rhode Island Aves, 1st St, to Q and O Streets. I immediately tossed the Excel worksheet into an Access database and created a query about working women. Now I’m still getting used to the updated MS Access program and can’t seem to figure out how to exclude women “at school”. Women over the age of 15, 595 of them had some occupation. Of those 595 women, 473 were black. In 1900 the TC north African American women were laundresses, nurses (child and sick), house servants, and cooks. White working women were saleswomen, teachers, house keepers, landladies, office workers, and seamstresses.

To clarify, my census project is sponsored personally by me. I get moral and other minimal support from my employer, as it sort of falls under professional development. Secondly, this is NOT a building or house history project. Things like houses are secondary, people are more interesting. I have no intention of putting the raw data on-line. For one, it’s too much. ED 64 is over 2,500 names alone, and there are 3 other EDs to go. I do hope to go on to census years 1910-1930. However the rate we’re going I’ll probably get through to 1910 or 1920.