One of the maps I recently downloaded was from a newspaper clipping showing the area near the White House. With 50 Saloons and 109 Bawdy-Houses the map was drawn to highlight business owners who were paying Federal taxes but not DC taxes. Of importance is how nearly all but four of the business owners were female. Were they not paying taxes because they were disenfranchised? Women’s suffrage didn’t come for another 30 years with the passage of the 19th Amendment. By taking the map and importing it into Google Earth, I was able to arrange it so that the buildings line up with minimal distortion. It’s not a perfect map, but it is truly an interesting glimpse into downtown Washington, DC in the 1890’s.
Today most of the buildings are all gone. There are some exceptions, like City Hall (Central Powerhouse) and the Old Post Office, which is written as the “New Post Office” on the map. In the place of the 109 Bawdy-Houses and 50 Saloons was the creation of Federal Triangle. Ohio Ave- gone, DC’s entertainment center, gone as well. Later built, on the year of my birth, was Freedom Plaza which was designed to look like L’Enfant’s map no less. By adjusting the antique map’s transparency you can see a approximately 117 years of development. From brothel to federal, what a strange entity time is.