The other day I was canvassing the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America newspaper collection and came across this advertisement that was published on May 27th, 1910 in the Washington Times. It shows development plans for Randle Highlands, a neighborhood in Southeast, Washington, DC. I was curious about the results of the newspaper ad. As in, how much has the map changed in the last 99 years? Surprisingly, not too much. Most of the land was developed to plan, except for one large chunk of the land that remains “undeveloped” to this day: Fort Dupont Park.
This particular fort had six sides, each 100 feet long, protected by a deep moat and trees felled side-by-side with branches pointing outward. It was named for Flag Officer Samuel F. du Pont, who commanded the naval victory at Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861.
Although its garrison and guns never saw battle, Fort Dupont served as a lifeline of freedom. Runaway slaves found safety here before moving on to join the growing community of “contrabands” in Washington. The barracks and guns are gone, but the fort’s earthworks can still be traced near the picnic area on Alabama Avenue.
In the 1930s, the National Capital Planning Commission acquired the old fort and surrounding land for recreation. An 18-hole golf course was constructed. As the city grew, golf gave way in 1970 to the sports complex along Ely Place that now includes tennis and basketball courts, athletic fields, and a softball diamond. An indoor ice rink offers skating all winter. Where once the Civil War fort looked out over farmlands, city dwellers now grow vegetables in community garden plots.
This advertisement was printed 20 years before the National Capital Planning Commission changed the future of this neighborhood. I wonder what it would be like today if it wasn’t a park? Umm, I mean golf course. I was able to line up the old map with the contemporary imagery and by adjusting the transparency in Google Earth you can see how much has been developed. Click here to download the KMZ file for Google Earth
NATIONS GROW EASTWARD
Is Swinging Towards
The Washington Times, May 27th, 1910
London, Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, all the other great Capitals of the nations of the world show a tremendous growth eastward.
Heretofore the pendulum of Washington improvements and appropriations has swung westward because all concerical cities grow westward. During the past two and present administrations the power of the executive head of the nation has been felt, and for the first time in the history of our country the entire nation bows to Washington. And the more this executive power is exercised, the greater benefits to be derived by the National Capital.
There are over eighty million people contributing to the growth of Washington and everything done to add to the national weath from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Canada to Mexico, must redound to the benefit and growth of Washington.
No section of the District is going to play a greater part in the Washington of tomorrow than RANDLE HIGHLANDS. The Capitol building is the logical future center of Washington and RANDLE HIGHLANDS is about the same distance from this point in one diection as fashionable Dupont Circle is in the other. The future valuation of RANDLE HIGHLANDS lots will compare favorable with the present valuation of Dupont Circle lots, when Washington leaps forward to a place among the great capitals of the world, which it is rapidly doing.
How fast Washington is growing can best be realized when look at the records for the past fiscal year. They show the number of private buildings erected during that time to be nine thousand nine hundred and five, at a total cost of $14,785,058. The next year should greatly surpass this number, and each succeeding year should add to the rapidity of this growth.
Monday, May 30th, there will be the biggest sale of Real Estate in the history of the District of Columbia, as this company owns and controls together about one-fortieth of all the land in the District of Columbia.
NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY
Most of the world’s fortunes, great and small, have been made by those who deal in necessities. Real estate is the greatest of all necessities, and the greatest fortunes, as well as most of the fortunes of lesser size, have been made through profitable real estate investment.
Bear in mind, these fortunes were not made in purchasing real estate in already thickly populated, prosperous sections. Such real estate has already reached a high valuation that does not permit of the tremendous profits possible as when the purchase price is small.
In short, fortune smiles on those who have enough foresight to buy property while the price is small and payments easy- those who can see things as they will be in two or three years.
A trip to Randle Highlands will convince you that it has a great future and is the place to invest your money.
Originally published on May 27th, 1910 in the Washington Times and obtained from the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America newspaper archive.
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