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52 Ancestors, nos. 2 and 3: Morris Lauter and Julia (Chavid) Rosenfeld

Nothing like a blogging resolution to bring blogging to a halt, eh? I'll play catch-up by doing a couple of ancestors at once. 

Morris and Julia* Rosenfeld Lauter were my great-great-grandparents on my mother's side. That side of my family has been in Philadelphia from the beginning — the beginning being Morris's arrival from Ukraine in 1891. The Lauters and the Rosenfelds came from Berdichev, a famous shtetl in the region of Kiev. Morris came to the U.S. by himself in 1891, and Julia followed a year later with their children. All five of their children, Mary, Abe (my great-grandfather), Rose, Fannie, and Lizzy, were born in the old country. In 1892, when Julia traveled to the U.S. with them, the oldest of them was 7 and the youngest was an infant. The mind boggles at what such a journey must have been like.

"My grandmother spoke only Jewish"

My grandmother Hope, Julia's granddaughter, used to tell me, "My grandmother spoke only Jewish and I spoke only English, but we understood each other perfectly." I suspect that's a pattern repeated across the generations in many immigrant families. It suggests that my grandmother Hope knew a Yiddish-speaking environment in her earliest years — something of which we (or at least I) otherwise had no hint during Hope's later years. Morris died in the year Hope was born, but Julia lived until Hope was 27, so my grandmother knew her Yiddish-speaking grandmother for a significant portion of her life.

The census, on the other hand, offers an interesting and different window on the linguistic state of affairs: in 1900, the census recorded the linguistic and literacy competence of residents. Julia is listed as speaking English and being able to read, but not being able to write. Here's a detail of the entry for the Lauter family in the 1900 census. It shows that Morris (listed first) came in 1891 and Julia and the children a year later. The boxes to the right contain answers to the questions Can read? Can write? Can speak Engliish? For Julia (second line), the answers are yes-no-yes.


Who knows whether this means she could read English but not write it, or read Yiddish but not write it, or...? It's easy to imagine that she could speak some English when she needed to, but chose to speak Yiddish at home, which is what her granddaughter remembered. 

Looking around the neighborhood with Google Maps

Despite my Philadelphia connections, including having gone to college nearby, I'd never really thought about the geography of Jewish Philadelphia around the turn of the last century. When I was pulling together my notes for this post, I was reminded that Morris's occupation was listed as a grocer – a fact confirmed by his listings in city directories from 1899 on – and I finally thought to look up his address in Google Maps. 518 Lombard Street is now a very nicely renovated corner townhouse, with what looks like it could have been a commercial space on the ground floor. It's reasonable to expect that the Lauters lived above their shop. 

View Larger Map

Since I don't know that neighborhood well, I then thought to "walk around" virtually to see what was nearby. Lo and behold, look what's directly across the street!

A rather splendid synagogue, which turns out to be historic Congregation B'nai Abraham. That impressive building was not built until 1910, but the Lauters' residence (and business) at that corner puts them right at the center of Jewish life in that part of Philly in those days. The major commercial center in the community was 4th Street (Der Ferder) above South Street, just a couple of blocks away.

While I was exploring the neighborhood with Google and the census, it occurred to wonder whether the Doskows, the family of my great grandmother Sarah who married Abe Lauter, lived nearby. Back to the 1900 census, and yup: 434 Lombard Street. Little Abe and little Sarah grew up just a block apart. I'll come back to the Doskows in a future post.

*A note from a cousin says that Julia's Hebrew name was Jochebed — the name of Moses's mother — and her Yiddish name, by which her immediate family knew her, was Chavid. But she went by Julia for all public purposes once she was in the U.S. Julia is on her tombstone: 


Chairless at the Cathedral

What if the Cathedral could serve as a liturgical laboratory for the diocese?

Last week, the Washington National Cathedral removed all the chairs from its nave and held a series of events to allow people to explore the empty, altered space in various ways. (Read more about the week's events here.) As you know, I am passionately interested in the way people experience space in Episcopal churches. I've known the Cathedral literally as long as I can remember – I started Beauvoir when I'd just turned 4 – and had never seen the nave empty of chairs, so I was definitely not going to miss this.

I was able to attend two evening events during #WNCnochairs week. On the Tuesday night, I went to Evensong, which was held in St. John's Chapel, alongside the Great Choir. The nave was completely empty, and before Evensong, the Cathedral was completely silent. The floor of the nave, it turns out, is sea-green marble, which is almost entirely covered by the chairs in their normal configuration. With the chairs gone, you can read the full height of the nave arcade, and the piers appear to rise from a placid sea.

The few minutes I had to explore the space before and after the service went a long way to recapturing, for me, the feeling of the Cathedral as permeable sacred space as I knew it during my free-range childhood in the neighborhood. It used to be possible to go in any door at almost any time, and simply let your imagination rebound off the stone. The Cathedral has increasingly — and for understandable reasons — closed off ways of entering in recent years. The transept doors have been closed since the 2011 earthquake, and now, partly for security and partly because of the urgent need to raise restoration funds, visitors must enter through only one door at the west end and present themselves to staff before entering. Although entry for worship is free, the requirement to account for your purposes in visiting has largely shut off the sense that the Cathedral might be a place of private wonder. (I assume it goes without saying that a child of 9 or 10 would never be allowed to roam the Cathedral unaccompanied nowadays.)

During no-chairs week, however, there was almost no gatekeeping — none at the entrance, one helpful Purple Hat Lady within, and absolutely mimimal ushing and shushing. The empty space was defamiliarized. People who clearly know the Cathedral well gathered in small groups to point and exclaim and share their renewed wonder at the space.

On the Wednesday evening, I went to the informal choral concert. A choir sang first from the crossing, then moved up to the high altar for a second piece, and then deployed around the nave for Tallis's "Spem in alium". The people were free to move around the nave ad lib. during the singing.  Two things I particularly noticed (in addition to the stunning music, that is):

An audience (or congregation) free to move is much better at stillness than one forced to sit still.

People in wheelchairs were moving about the space with particular freedom.

I think of myself as pretty attuned to accessibility issues, since my dad used a wheelchair, but I didn't realize until that evening how much of a barrier the ordinary arrangement of chairs presents.

The new sense of freedom in the space, and the defamiliarizing effect, made me wonder about the liturgical implications.

What if the Eucharist came together like a flash mob in the midst of the people as they milled about in the great space?

What if the Cathedral took advantage of its vast range of different types of liturgical spaces to have a liturgy that danced and moved, as at St. Gregory of Nyssa?

What if the Cathedral could serve as a liturgical laboratory for parishes in the diocese? Congregations might come and worship in any of the Cathedral's spaces and see what it's like when a familiar community brings their worship into unfamiliar configurations.

I don't know to what extent Seeing Deeper was driven by liturgical concerns and to what extent it was a product of the visitor services side of things. On the latter front, I think it was a great success, but I hope the implications on the liturgical side aren't lost. Obviously there was a lot of clergy participation in the week's events, and the Dean was out and about, welcoming people and experiencing the space (and recording it with his iPhone). I didn't detect much public diocesan engagement with the experiment. I hope people will continue to compare notes (including in comments here) on their no-chairs experience, and that the Cathedral and our congregations will take inspiration from it in the year ahead.

Did you go to the Cathedral during #WNCnochairs? What was your experience? What might we take away from the experiment?

Addendum: Kathy Stuadt has a wonderful reflection on Seeing Deeper at the diocesan blog.


52 Ancestors, no. 1: Morris Klein

Note of explanation: This is a different blogging direction for me – if a person who went a year and a half without posting can be said to have a blogging direction! Genealogy blogger Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small posted a challenge for 2014: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I'm in! I'm going to aim to post briefly about a different ancestor each Sunday night, choosing more or less at random from my family tree. If you'd like to play along, check out Amy's post for the original challenge, list your blog at Tangled Roots and Trees, and follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #52Ancestors.

"I've got FIVE DAUGHTERS!" Thus Tevye lamented, and my great-grandfather Morris Klein would probably have sympathized.

A cheery lot those five daughters were, too. Here they are with their mother, Ida:

The middle sister, Margaret, at left, (aka Maggie Carson) was my paternal grandmother. All five sisters turned out to be formidable women, none of them easy to get along with – but those are stories for another week.

Morris was born in Nagy-Begany, Hungary, in 1880, and emigrated to the US in 1900. He died in 1943, so even my father had no real memory of him. According to a 1913 passport application, Morris became a naturalized citizen in 1910, in Salt Lake City. For some portion of his first years in the US, he lived in Scranton, PA. When his daughters were very young, Morris had a store in Salt Lake City, just off Temple Square, at 120 W. South Temple.

Morris and Ida were married in Salt Lake in 1907, though it's not clear how Ida found her way there. (As I write this, I am realizing where the blanks in the story are. Ida's background is a bit of a brick wall, so I'll have to come back to her.) After a few years, according to my great aunt Ruth, Ida became homesick for her family, who were in Toledo, OH, and she convinced Morris to move the family (back?) there. Toledo is where my grandmother Maggie spent her formative years, and where the core of the Klein family stayed. They were certainly in Toledo by 1923, when the youngest daughter, Ruth, was born.

I have notes in my files telling me that Nagy Begany is now Velyka Byihan', in western Ukraine, near the Hungarian border. The Kleins were certainly primarily Hungarian-speaking and Hungarian-identified. Ruth told me that when they lived in Toledo, they were very active members of Hungarian social organizations. I'd be very curious to learn more about the Jewish community in Nagy Begany and in Salt Lake City. I've dipped into the latter just enough to learn that there's a lot more to learn about Jews in Utah.

That's it for this week! Next week I'll choose somebody from a completely different branch of the tree.



"Suburbs" and the idea of Washington in the late 19th century

from The Washington Post, April 19, 1891

Between the city and suburbia

Many of the most contentious subjects in D.C. urbanism and preservation today involve distinctions between the L'Enfant-planned city - denser neighborhoods mostly inside the "topographic bowl" - and outlying neighborhoods of mostly single-family houses, especially in Ward 3, which are in the District but are, as an historical property type, first-ring or streetcar suburbs. The "suburban" character of these neighborhoods is an object of scorn to many urbanists who inhabit denser parts of D.C., while residents of less-dense neighborhoods have been known to look with disdain on the "truly" suburban places well outside the District line. (Witness the small episode in the endless battle over the Cleveland Park Giant in which some residents didn't want a tower on their grocery store because it would be "too suburban", or the distaste for "Potomac-style" McMansions in prewar, in-city "suburbs".) 

These early "suburbs" occupy a contested space between Washington and D.C., as it were: proudly Washingtonian but more than ambivalent towards D.C.'s government (a can of worms for a different post); used to enjoying the best of all possible worlds by being both within the city and removed from it (with all that entails in racial politics, of course). All these tensions made me curious about how the early developers and residents of such neighborhoods thought of themselves in relation to D.C. What follows is an exploration of the relationship between late-19th-century suburban development in and around D.C., and the emergence of the modern sense of Washington as a geographical and political entity. 

Suburban development as background to the McMillan Plan

"Suburban" development in the District of Columbia and adjacent parts of Maryland took place over the last quarter of the nineteenth century in an environment in which the idea of what Washington was becoming was contested. Suburbs – privately developed in an atmosphere of mostly unregulated growth – were variously defined by their proponents in contrast to the city as a lifestyle choice and to undeveloped countryside; to the City of Washington as it had developed during and after the Civil War; to the Federal District with its anomalous status in the United States' system of representative government; and to one another. 

The conventional narrative about the forces that converged in the Senate Park (McMillan) Plan of 1901 emphasizes concerns about unplanned development in the federal city in the century after L'Enfant's plan, and the effort by McMillan Commission members to create a capital city befitting America's growing status in the world – a capital "worthy of the nation." By this account, the McMillan Plan created, in the public imagination and on the ground, the modern image of the capital city. Less considered is the role played by the explosion of suburban development in and around the District of Columbia in the two decades preceding the McMillan Plan. In particular, a decade-long suburban real estate boom, concentrated in the period from the reform of the federal civil service in 1883 to the Panic of 1893 and simultaneous, belated attempts by Congress to regulate growth in the District, gave Washingtonians cause to think through the relationships among Washington the capital city, the District of Columbia outside the L'Enfant-planned area, and the jurisdictions outside the District. By the early 1890s, the idea of what Washington was had shifted from Boundary Street to the District line. Observers surveying the decade's suburban development associated precisely that rapid, unregulated growth with the emergence of Washington as a world-class city.

Suburbs contiguous with the L'Enfant City 

The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, the act that created the District's short-lived territorial government, unified into a single municipal entity the separate jurisdictions of the City of Washington (the area planned by L'Enfant), Georgetown (the pre-existing port town to its west), and Washington County (the area within the ten miles square set apart from Maryland for the federal district but outside the other two jurisdictions, and minus the Virginia bits, which had been retroceded in 1847). The 1871 act thereby created on paper, at least, the District of Columbia as we know it today. That unified jurisdiction survived the dissolution of the territorial government of the District in 1874. However, the notion of the City of Washington as distinct from the areas outside the borders of the L'Enfant city persisted for more than a generation. The strength of the boundary of the L'Enfant City in the local imagination is apparent from the places named as suburbs in before the late-nineteenth-century press. An article on the history of Georgetown in The Washington Post in 1878 is headed "The Simple Annals of Our Venerable Suburb." A dozen years later, an article trumpeted the development of Eckington under the headline, "Beautiful Eckington: Transformation of a Primeval Forest to a City's Suburb"! The fact that these communities were contiguous with the L'Enfant city in no way disqualified them as suburbs.

The role of the federal workforce in the definition of "Washington" and "suburb"

The stubbornness of the boundaries of the L'Enfant city and the patterns of suburban development in the last quarter of the nineteenth century can be explained in large measure by the federal workforce and the federal government's attitude towards Washington in the aftermath of the dissolution of the territorial government. The consolidation of Washington's separate jurisdictions into a single entity and its brief moment of home rule in the early 1870s had been a response to the crisis in infrastructure created by the huge influx of troops, federal workers, and population during the Civil War. After the territorial government was dissolved in 1874, Congress more or less gave up interest in improving Washington, and repeatedly over the next twenty years tried to disown responsibility for financing any improvements outside the L'Enfant City. That neglect suggests both the strong identification of Washington, the federal city, with the L'Enfant-planned area, and the limitations of direct Congressional rule.

The population of the District, however, did not stop expanding. The District's population increased from 75,000 at the start of the Civil War to 178,000 by 1880, and had reached 230,000 by 1890. Federal jobs expanded by 600 percent between 1860 and 1880. Federal clerks' wages were very good by contemporary standards; the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act in 1883 gave federal workers the job security necessary to turn them into potential home-buyers. (Howard Gillette, Jr., Between Justice and Beauty: Race, Planning, and the Failure of Urban Policy in Washington, D.C. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), p. 74-75.) The population and workforce boom drove development and land speculation, aided, but not in the first instance caused, by advances in transportation technology. In 1886, the Washington Post reported, "The rapid development of the city and suburbs of Washington has led to the formation of a company to buy Montgomery County, Md., [all of it, apparently!] and make it a city of suburban villas." One of the promoters of the new company quoted in the article said, bluntly, "the main idea of the organization is to give government clerks something to do with their money." ("Among Real Estate Men," The Washington Post, October 31, 1886, p. 2.) Clearly private developers were more than prepared to take up the slack if the government was not going to plan for the orderly expansion of the city.

In April of 1884, the Post reported, "Many strangers coming to Washington to reside permanently...People are buying property all over the city, in places where it has not formerly been desirable for speculation." The author quotes a real estate agent as saying that Washington was becoming a "pretty good place to live even in the summer....The city is bound to grow in all directions," so land anywhere was an investment. People from out of town were investing in undeveloped property. "Many pretty houses are going up in the northern suburbs," reported the Post – Southern-style houses with verandas in Mount Pleasant; Queen Anne-style homes in Columbia Heights. ("A Good Place to Live In," The Washington Post, April 28, 1884, p. 4.) In late 1886, it was still possible for some to predict that the boom would be to the south and east. An architect was quoted in the Post in October 1886 believed that people would rather live in the city, and that "after all, the city will extend itself to the east as those who first planned it intended." ("Among Real Estate Men," The Washington Post, October 31, 1886, p. 2.) More realistic appraisals of what was happening focused northward.

Before streetcars: discontinuous development

Washington shared with other nineteenth-century cities the phenomenon whereby both very-close-in and much-farther-out suburbs developed before in-between ones. Before the introduction of electric streetcars, which became technologically possible in 1887 and started running in Washington in 1890-91, it was feasible for people to live in the lower-lying areas immediately adjacent to the city boundaries, where horse-drawn streetcars could reach, or at stops along the B&O Railroad, at or beyond the District line in Maryland. The introduction of electric streetcars opened up the intervening space for development. In Washington, that meant all of the former Washington County, the upland areas of the District of Columbia high enough for pleasant breezes and views and too high for horse-drawn streetcars to reach with any speed or efficiency.

This discontinuous pattern of development meant that several models for the physical development of suburbs were already familiar by the time streetcar suburbs within or at the District line began development. The close-in suburbs bordering Boundary Street could have lot sizes and building stock little differentiated from adjacent parts of the city proper. At the outer reaches of commuter territory, railroad suburbs might be country towns whose stations had brought them within the metropolitan ambit, or they might be planned communities of "villas" or "cottages" along the lines suggested by Andrew Jackson Downing and early model suburbs like Riverside, IL. In the absence of regulation, developers of the 1880s and '90s who were seeking to capitalize on Washington's housing shortage by opening up the rural areas of the former Washington County could to a large extent shape their own built environments, choosing the alignment of streets, the size of lots, the location of transit, and, to varying degrees, shaping the kind of architecture the new suburbs would contain.

L'Enfant's nuanced if imperfectly-realized plan of grid plus avenues apparently had little to recommend it to the developers of the late nineteenth century. LeDroit Park, founded in 1873 on the north side of Boundary Street, has a street grid notoriously and intentionally set at angles to the L'Enfant Plan's streets, "to enhance the psychological as well as physical distance between city and suburb." (Gillette, p. 78.) Other close-in, pre-streetcar suburbs followed a similar pattern. By the end of the 1870s, the Assistant Engineer Commissioner of Washington deplored this patchwork of subdivisions and warned that "the District government will be required at no distant day to expend large sums for damages incurred in straightening out the streets of these villages." A decade later, the Engineer Commissioner called LeDroit Park "'a thorn in the side of the District' for throwing itself across the northern part of the city and compelling everybody to go around it." (Both quoted in Gillette.)

The coming of streetcars

By 1888, Congress and the Commissioners of the District of Columbia were finally taking notice of snowballing suburban development, but they exerted no planning authority and provided no significant financing when electric streetcars came to the city. The prospect of electric streetcars moved Congress to ban overhead wires in the L'Enfant City in the District appropriations bills for 1888 and 1889. That is, Congress's response to the new technology was not to look to its implications for the District of Columbia as a whole, but rather to move to protect the federal core. The same innovation moved real estate speculators to buy up vast portions of undeveloped land in and adjoining the District and build the infrastructure to get home-buyers there. Congress's far-sighted action is still creating red-tape headaches for 21st-century transportation planners, while the developers' moves materially shaped the way people live in large parts of the District today.

The 1890s: Suburban development and Washington's status as a capital city

By the early 1890s, commentators in local papers were starting to articulate the connection between the growth of the city to fill out the boundaries of the District and the growth in prominence of Washington as a capital. An 1890 year-end round up of interviews with prominent local businessmen about the progress and needs of the city touched on the introduction of streetcars, the pace of building everywhere, and the improvement of roads; called for a moratorium on alley dwellings, improvements to sidewalks and sewers. "It is only a matter of time before the city will be the pride of the nation...most evil influences and conditions are gradually being eradicated." ("Onward and Upward: Thankful for Great Progress, The City is Still Ambitious," The Washington Post, November 27, 1890, p. 7.) An April, 1891 article in the Post reviewed the state of suburban development as a whole. "The future of the country is the future of Washington." "It has been only twenty years since Washington awoke from a long and quiet sleep under a genial Southern sun. Fifteen years ago it was still yawning and wondering whether it would pay to get up or go to bed again. Ten years ago it began to feel new life coursing through its vein, and five years ago it commenced to prepare itself for new duties and responsibilities, and to feel that it really was of some importance in the world." ("Outside of the City Limits, Millions Have Been Invested: A Comprehensive Review of the Marvelous Development Which Is in Progress Around the Nation's Capital," The Washington Post, April 19, 1891, p. 14.) The glorious future embodied in and portended by the past decade's boom was seen as expressing itself chiefly in the growth of the suburbs. The Post's editorial board chose to mark that progress not by surveying improvements in the city proper, which it said were well known to everyone, but to present "a bird's-eye view, so to speak, of the work which is in progress at the city's doors." "It will be a revelation to those who have given no heed to the transformations which have transformed the hills...adjacent to Washington into...flourishing suburban towns." Washington was promoted as a place men of accomplishment could congregate in luxurious (and well-paved), congenial social surroundings after they had made their fortunes elsewhere.

A choice of styles

As suburban development was proceeding simultaneously on multiple fronts in the late 1880s and '90s, buyers could in principle choose from communities along a continuum from carefully-groomed "country" town (Chevy Chase), to woodland idyll (Takoma Park), to a large number of inner suburbs offering commodious, architecturally-current townhouses at different prices (Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Kalorama). An advertisement for Cleveland Park promises "artistic" homes, as in Takoma Park, and "No houses in rows" – a selling-point not just in contrast to the old city neighborhoods, but to contemporary suburbs consisting of high-end townhouses, like next-door Woodley Park. The architectural continuum, from rowhouses just outside the old city boundary to woodland villas, helped link the new developments to the city even as it differentiated the suburban real estate market.

The real estate columns of the papers in this period go into great detail about the style, amenities, layout, and interior finishes of the houses recent buyers were building in these new neighborhoods. Although the newspaper articles generally do not include extensive illustrations, their word-painting is sufficient to inform the prospective home-buyer about what it will take to keep up with the Joneses. Moreover, the papers and advertisements list exactly who has bought houses in the suburbs, naming senators and congressmen, cabinet secretaries, professors, engineers, military officers, and other well-known Washington professionals. The implication is not just that new buyers would be guaranteed neighbors of a certain class, but that they were being invited to join a particular community. Many years of this kind of weekly (sometimes daily) reporting not only fueled the building boom; it no doubt helped create in readers a mental geography of Washington in which men of importance were committing to year-round residence, investing in Washington's future, and populating the whole of the District as envisioned in the 1871 amalgamation.

Shifting the notion of "Washington" away from Boundary Street

Two small but telling observations in the press in the early 1890s provide a measure of how far the thinking about the City of Washington, its suburbs, and the District of Columbia had come in past decade. The same survey article quoted above, "Outside of the City Limits," discloses the beginning of a breakdown in the dominance of the L'Enfant boundaries in the public imagination. The author mentions "Le Droit Park, which cannot now be considered as suburban, whatever it might have been when it was planned." The comment probably has much to do with the perceived threat from African Americans in the neighborhood adjoining LeDroit Park, against whom LeDroit's white residents had erected a fence and, later, barbed wire. However, the remark points, for better or worse, to other factors shaping the distinction between city and suburb than the location of Boundary Street. In the 1870s, neither demographics, nor proximity to the city, nor building stock would have trumped the old city border in defining a neighborhood as suburban.

The other surprising innovation in thinking comes from the outer edges of suburban development. In 1890, the developers of Charlton Heights (scene of the man breakfasting in his negligee on his lawn quoted earlier) tried a new tack in differentiating their subdivision from all the others. The Post ran a typical promotional piece on the suburb under the headline, "Voting for President: Rights of Citizenship Guaranteed Charlton Heights Residents":

Charlton Heights, in addition to being one of the most desirable residence spots in the vicinity of the National Capital, has another attraction which should not be overlooked by persons who desire to exercise their prerogatives as voters of the United States. Two years hence, there will be a National election for President, and it requires a year's sojourn in Maryland to qualify a voter to cast his ballot on such a momentous question. (The Washington Post, July 27, 1890, p. 5) 

This was by no means new information, but it is the first instance I have found in which it is explicitly invoked as a feature distinguishing Maryland from District suburbs. It reflects a new sense of the District as a fully-populated jurisdiction with year-round residents of every class.

Emergence of a civic consciousness among "suburban" property owners

It is no surprise that the 1890s should have brought some new awareness of the limitations of home-owning citizenship in the District of Columbia. As the new suburbs of the 1880s were built out and began to be served by streetcars, residents began to test their civic voice in demanding better services and infrastructure. The papers and the Annual Reports of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia from this period are full of neighborhood groups demanding redress of grievances. Mount Pleasant residents wanted the streetcar to go further up the hill into their neighborhood. Woodley Park and Cleveland Park residents wanted a road opened through Klingle Valley. (Plus ça change...) New suburbs on the Maryland side of the border could incorporate as towns and issue bonds to fund further improvements, while District suburbs were dependent on the solvency and continued interest of their developers and appropriations (generally not forthcoming) from Congress. The situation must have worsened considerably with the severe economic downturn after the Panic of 1893 – a year in which Congress was suddenly moved to act to regulate development in a way that brought development to a screeching halt. (The Highway Act of 1893, which was designed to harmonize the suburban street system with the L'Enfant Plan, created the fear that tracts of suburban property would be condemned to implement the new street system.)

The fundamental change in the perception of what Washington was and could be, however, was not erased by the end of the boom. It laid the groundwork for the McMillan Plan and the early-20th-century completion of the plans made by the developers of the 1880s and '90s. The Senate Park Commission's vision not only for a dignified monumental core but for amenities for full-time residents reflects two decades' concrete demonstration that there was a market for such amenities, as well as a desperate need for intelligent planning. 


The Episcopal Church Welcomes You...if you can find your way in. (Part 2 of 2)