A Rose by any other name can stink when it hits the fan

While I was away this weekend, mourning the death of my grandma, the whole what’s the friggin name of the neighborhood blew up. As far as I’ve been able to grasp it, a vocal party in the Bates Area that is opposed to the name Truxton Circle penned a few letters to various city officials expressing their opposition to the name. However, one of those letters was to DDOT requesting “an immediate stay on the grant application for a Truxton Circle Banner pending further review.” Considering that city grant money may be harder to come by in the future, and that it is easier to get grants once you’ve gotten one, our little disagreement about the name of the neighborhood has gone too far.
I had not seen the letter that started it when I had seen the Truxton Circle dot org’s Daily (somewhat weekly-ish) dispatch in my inbox on my cell phone. I read the dispatcher’s letter, which expressed anger and irritation, leaving me to wonder WTF? It wasn’t until Sunday night when I read the offending letter and got a fuller account from the co-founder of TruxtonCircle.Org. Dang.
I respect the right of my fellow neighbors to disagree and go into the public sphere to express said disagreement. Regarding the name and history of the neighborhood, I welcome any research that others bring forth. The problems in the offending letter were a few statements and one poor citation. Let’s review:

Specifically, the Hanover project grant states that the Hanover neighborhood is “bounded by P Street NW, North Capitol Street, New York Avenue NW and 1st Street NW”. This is inaccurate. According to the Shaw School Urban Renewal Plan, the historic borders of the Hanover Street are limited to Hanover Street.

I haven’t seen anything in the SSURP defining smaller areas, but then again, I haven’t seen the SSURP in its fullness. But the borders cited by the Hanover people are the same borders they’ve been citing for the last 5-6 years as their section of the TC, as opposed to the Bates Area. I’d hope that if we went hunting for grant money for just BACA it would not be limited to Bates Street and denied to Q, R, 4th, 3rd, 1st and North Cap.

Therefore, the grant applicant’s request for a Truxton Circle banner on 1st NW is inaccurate. According to the text “Washington DC, Past and Future ” the former Truxton Circle was located at the 1600 block of North Capitol Street NE, not in Old City, Bates Shaw East community. Additionally, there was not and is not a neighborhood called Truxton Circle. It was a landmark, not a neighborhood.

I already did the when the TC was a neighborhood and not a landmark or a post office in another post. And I can’t find Washington DC, Past and Future in Amazon or Half, nor is an author cited. I did a Google search and came up with nothing, which leads me to think this might be an article, and if that is so citing the journal would be nice.
There was some other stuff, but to go over them would be nitpicky. We’re all human and prone to error. One of the undersigned in the counter grant letter had nicely pointed out a typographical error on my main site. I am thankful for that correction and in the same spirit of neighborliness, while having differing opinions, I suggest that in this public sphere argument, stronger citations and proof be brought forth. Meaning, if you are going to cite a source if it is a book or article cite the title and author and journal if applicable. If it is an oral history, interviewee, interviewer, date and repository where the interview is housed. And if anyone has a question about any of the sources I cite or use when asserting a statement as fact contact me if you feel that my bibliography or citations are incomplete. The idea is to let you the reader and member of the public review the research for yourself (should you decide to drag yourself to the MLK or the historical society’s library) and decide.


There was some good natured conversation at last night’s BACA meeting about where the hell are we. Apparently at a meeting I missed, there was more of a continuous meeting regarding the name of the neighborhood.
Just to restate: I am in the Bates Area, which is in Truxton Circle, which is in Shaw, which is in Old City II, which is in Washington, which is in the District of Columbia, which is in the United States of America. You might be in Westminster, which maybe in (I’m not sure) Logan Circle, which is in (though some might not want to admit it) in Shaw, which is in Old City II, etc.
Anyway, the discussion goes back to Truxton Circle. Several people with a gist of what the argument is, are aware that once upon a time, long, long ago there was a circle at FL and North Cap and it went away in the 40s. What I’ve become aware of lately is that in 1984, solid proof that the powers that be, the local and federal government called my little section of the Shaw School Renewal Area (aka Shaw) Truxton Circle. As an area, and not as a landmark or a post office, TC is called Truxton Circle in the Washington Post’s August 2, 1984 article Subsidy Program’s Nuts and Bolts . Then I found maps from a federal agency* from 1984 with the name Truxton Circle boldly printed on top of the area. After 1984 the city continues to call the area Truxton Circle as it sells underpriced and moderately priced housing to DC residents.

*I’m sorry I’m going to have to be vague about the source until the end of the Summer. Ask me in person why.

Fun with ProQuest: Truxton Circle pt 2

Find part 1 here
The name Truxton Circle is somewhat controversial. There are residents of the TC who loathe the name and will on occasion mention how offensive the name is. Personally, I have no problem with the name, and it was the name on the map at the Washingtonia room at the MLK Library. It is a decent description of this eastern side of Shaw
The circle that Truxton Circle is named after is long gone. The man the former circle was named after, Revolutionary war vet Thomas Truxtun, is long dead, and we couldn’t bother spelling his name right and nobody ’round here really cares who was anyway. Regardless of all that, the name has stuck. Fun with ProQuest is simply tracking the name and its use in the Washington Post.
So up until the 1940s Truxton Circle was a traffic circle. Then circle go bye-bye. The next time Truxton Circle appears in the paper is in the 60s when it is a Post Office area. In 1964 the Truxton Circle postal annex at 17 Florida Avenue NE was robbed at gunpoint. Most of what I found in the 60s was in relation to the post office. The closest in this period of it being a neighborhood name or an area name is a classified ad in 1963 listing an address as “Box 26001, Truxton Circle, Wash, D.C.”
Nothing in the 70s. Nada.
Then in 1984, the city somehow christened the area as Truxton Circle when it was launching a subsidy program to encourage home buying in the District. Truxton Circle was one of the target areas, which also included “Columbia Heights; Shaw-Westminister, Carollsburg, Capitol Hill South….” Yeah, now I’m wondering what was so wrong about the area that it had to be a target area. The other funny thing about the 1984 article was the description of the program:

What the loan terms are: Fixed interest rate of 11.39 percent for 30 years. Buyer pays 1 point and seller pays 2 points.

Eligible candidates were to be first time District home buyers making less than $42,960. I was making less than that in 2000. Anyway, from 1984 on Truxton Circle was a neighborhood as far as the city was concerned.
I’m open to researching (light researching) the other possible alternate names the area may have held.

All Articles from the Washington Post
“Classified Ad 343” Sept 22, 1963 p. G6
“2 Gunmen Rob DC Postal Annex of $2000, Shut 8 in Rest Room” by Alfred E. Lewis. Sept 3, 1964 p. A1
“Postal Machines, Men Move Mountain of Christmas Mail” by William Clairborne. Dec 7, 1972. p.A36
“Subsidy Program’s Nuts and Bolts” August 2, 1984. p. A15.

Monday Miscellany

Well the dinner honoring Our Great Leader Jim James Jimmy Berry, former ANC for the TC, this weekend was successful. A fair number of mucky-mucks, like David Catania, showed up to honor Jim. Some of us learned a lot about Jim that we didn’t know. Like, hey he got married 4 months ago and she’s quite pretty. But the main thing was Jim’s leadership, not just with the ANC but in his professional and personal life. He is a humble man who serves, and his leadership was for all, newbies, old timers, all races, everyone. He was what was right with the ANC system.
Mentioning the ANC system, I’m a little fuzzy on aspects of the history of ANCs in the District, but I gather they came in with Home Rule (I dunno) and did what the various civic and citizens associations were trying to do. I will post a “Fun with ProQuest: Truxton Circle pt II”, but while trying to figure out what was going on with the citizen’s association covering the area that can be now described as the TC, I learned a little (just enough to be dangerous) about the neighborhood associations. I knew, because of B.’s research on DC stadiums, that citizen’s associations were the white groups and the civic associations were the African-American groups. Whatever citizen or civic association held sway over the area, so far what I’ve found are really dull names, North Capitol Citizens(?), Northwest Civic, Central Civic, and Central Northwest Civic Associations. So, I’m going back to searching just Truxton Circle.
If you are just dying for me to mention something about the house, well Sunday we taped out the layout of the upper floor. It appears that I might have an extra foot that I didn’t think I had. When I was measuring I had to employ my poor math skills. So the plans I drew up were more of a guide, because I’m using that extra foot for the small bedroom. Looking at the 2nd floor with no walls made me realize how friggin small these houses are and every inch is valuable. Which is why I nixed (along with financial concerns) the contractor’s idea to make the stairs normal sized. The stairwell is less than 3 feet wide, and probably is a little over 2.5 feet. He mentioned widening the stairwell would make it easier to get furniture and other bulky things upstairs. Um, bulky stuff don’t belong upstairs, because that whole not having a whole lot of space to begin with thing.

Fun with ProQuest: Truxton Circle pt I

I ‘heart’ ProQuest. It allows me to post on things historic without having to do to much work. Anyway, another part of my lazy posting because I have no pictures of the renovation right now….. Fun with ProQuest: Truxton Circle.
Using the all articles prior to 1968 in the Washington Post and all other papers it ate (like the Washington Star), the first mention of Truxton Circle is August 1891 regarding the District Surveyor. Then the name appears again in 1900 regarding shrubbery, which then just makes me think of the Holy Grail. A cursory look at the rest of the articles bringing up the TC in the 1900s refer to the circle as just the circle or a park, not so much a neighborhood, unless you count “near Truxton Circle”.
That “near Truxton Circle” thing appears in an April 27, 1919 article regarding house sales where it is written:

For Robert M. Harper, 51 Q Street northeast, an attractive six room and bath house near Truxton circle, at consideration of $3,500. Mrs. Henry Price has purchased this property and will occupy it as her home.

The same article does mention “1766 Church street an attractive residence in the neighborhood of Dupont circle….” So Dupont is a neighborhood, the TC, not so much. And we see it again more as a landmark than as a neighborhood designation in another house sales article from November 20, 1920, where a house on the 100 block of Bates street is “located near North Capitol and Truxton Circle” and 1842 North Capitol Street was “located in Bloomingdale.”
However I do see something very interesting in an April 26, 1925 article “Ryan Quits Central Citizens’: Will Head Movement to Form Another Association in Same Territory. Section called too big” The section Francis J. Ryan decides to chop up for himself was to “have as its approximate boundaries New York avenue to Truxton circle, and New Jersey Avenue to North Capitol street.” My, that sounds awfully familiar.
Well I need to pursue this further, doing another search, so maybe part II.

THE DISTRICT SURVEYOR.; Recommendations About the Preservation of Plats and Records.
The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Aug 1, 1891. p. 5

ASKS DISTRICT TO PAY; Dog Catchers Caused Injury to a Bicycle. CHASED BULLDOG, BROKE A WHEEL Animal in Attempting to Escape the Net Ran Into the Bicycle of P.J. Nee, Who Claims Damages — District Auditor Approved Application and Recommends Payment — Plants from Mount Vernon Square to Decorate Other Reservations.
The Washington Post. Mar 15, 1900. p. 12 (1 page)

The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Apr 27, 1919. p. R6

$110,500 IN SALES OF HOMES IN CITY; Houses Fetch $17,500 Disposed by Hartung & Gibbons.
The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Nov 7, 1920. p. 34

RYAN QUITS CENTRAL CITIZENS’ PRESIDENCY; Will Head Movement to Form Another Association in Same Territory. SECTION CALLED TOO BIG
The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Apr 26, 1925. p. 2

Neighborhood Research

It all began with my house. My house. The one they told me was built in 1900. Liars. I went to the MLK Library’s Washingtoniana section up on the 3rd floor looking at building permits. I could not find a permit for my house. I guess no one bothered, or if they did it was lost to time. So I had to find another way of figuring out the age of my house.
The library has a resource guide (PDF file). Now I had already looked at the permits so I looked at the Baist, Sanborn and Hopkins real estate maps. Maps helped(see above). However they only go back to 1887. My house was on it so, well at least a brick house shaped like my house. So, my house existed in 1887, being 13 years older than I thought.
At some point, and now I have forgotten the true inspiration, I decided I’d try my hand at a neighborhood history. I’d look at the demographic changes of Truxton Circle from 1930 to as far back as I can go and see what happened. I bit off more than I could chew. I never got a real feel for how F’ing big the project would be. At some point it dawned on me that Truxton Circle had over 1000 houses, for each census year, with lots of people in each of the houses. That’s a lot of work. So now I’m just doing 1880, when (I believe) the census started recording the street addresses and I am going block by block to make sure I have done everything.
If you wanna know about your Truxton Circle house you can e-mail me or comment in this post and give me the property square number and I’ll try to give you the enumeration district. In the above photo you can see that the property square number for P, O, North Cap & 1st street is Square 616. With the enumeration district number you can look for your house on microfilm at the MLK. Or you can all wait till I’m done collecting my research.

History research

I’m back to the on again off again neighborhood research. In the past week I have done 2 blocks for 1880 discovering some odd little quirks about the 1400 block of 1st St & North Capitol, Unit blocks of 0 & P Street. Now I won’t have a fuller picture until I do the whole of Truxton Circle (which may be a while) but I found some lines of segregation on the blocks.
The 1400 block (even numbers)of North Capitol was the German-American street.
The 1400 block of 1st Street (odd) was the African American street.
The Unit block of O (odd) was German and Irish on the lower numbered end and Mullatoo (Black) with a few unskilled Irish on the other end.
The Unit block of P (even) from 10 to 64 P Street was mostly German with a few Irish and native whites. Then from 66 to 78 the families are African American.
I’ll be doing one more block this week then I think I’ll take another long extended break again.