The Corner Forum
Saturday, July 12, 2003
Issue #38

Maps Reveal History

By Eric Bernard, 1223 E St. NE

The City Museum is now open. It is a great place to discover or rediscover our city. It is in the former Carnegie Library, at 801 K St. NW, near the new Convention Center. At the moment, there are three exhibits to enjoy: an overview of Washington called Washington Perspectives; Washington and Sports; and the one I was particularly interested in, an exhibit of old maps of Washington.

A few facts about our neighborhood and its outer limits...

• An old map from 1790 shows an important feature of the time: a "cool spring" and the resulting "cool spring run," flowing to the Anacostia River. This feature appears to have been located around the intersection of 15th and E Streets NE, although more research will be needed to pinpoint its exact location.

• The "cool spring" is named Gibson Spring on maps from 1857 and 1862. Starting in 1887, the spring itself is difficult to locate on maps.

• In 1918, there used to be a Cool Spring Road near Benning Road.

• 15th Streets and C Streets (Constitution) NE were for a long time a boundary for the City of Washington. The neighborhood east of 15th Street was known as Isherwood and Rosedale. It was quite separate from Washington proper. By the way, Florida Avenue used to named Boundary Street for a long time.

• Hechinger Mall and the CVS sit nowadays on the site of a large former cemetery, Graceland Cemetery. I wonder what ever happened to the dead buried there. Are they still under all that asphalt?

• The Mount Zion Colored Baptist Church used to be where the Lovejoy School's playground is (from a 1887 map). §