Palisades of the Potomac (1890)

Palisades of the Potomac (1890)
Palisades of the Potomac (1890)

Here’s a nice old advertisement for the new development in the western half of Washington called the “Palisades of the Potomac.” The advertisement was created by the Palisades of the Potomac Land Improvement Company in June of 1890.

I came across this while looking through the Library of CongressAmerican Memory pages (which are kind of ugly and hard to navigate). There are some really interesting old maps of D.C. in there.

The Palisades is a quiet and beautiful neighborhood at the very edge of the District diamond. It’s home to some of the nicest detached houses in the city, some with great views over the Potomac.

At the end of the 19th century, it was quite a rural area, surrounded by woods. It was a place where wealthy Washingtonians, such as Washington Post founder Stilson Hutchins, would have their summer homes.

The advertisement says it best (Conduit Rd. is now MacArthur Blvd.):

The most picturesque portion of the District of Columbia and destined to shortly become the most fashionable as well as the most desirable suburb of Washington.

Magnificent drives!

The Conduit Road maintained by the government at an annual expense of $20,000. Accessible also by Electric Railway, steamers and boats.

If you live in the Palisades, Click on the advertisement for a larger view and see if you can locate your lot.

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  • MarkT

    Nice! Not surprising that they don’t show he streams which now run under this neighborhood. A full resolution is available here:

    • David B

      The link isn’t working for me. What browser did you have luck opening it with? Would love to see it.

    • David B

      Directly north of Manning Pl at Potomac Ave is a stream situated down in a fairly deep gulley where now stands a modernist wood and glass home itself half below street level. As kids we used to enter the concrete half-pipe tunnel that ran under Potomac Ave and under the railroad tracks that are now a section of the Capital Crescent Trail. The tunnel had a walking ledge that only ran halfway on each side so you had to leap across mid-way and not fall in the dark god-know-what-inhabited water. The west opening overlooks Canal Rd and the stream flows out as a robust little waterfall down the steep grade, I can’t imagine today’s parents letting their nine year-olds play around the treachery of such things as tunnels and waterfalls – not that ours knew we were but therein is the difference: we were free to roam.

  • David B

    Thanks. This post was special. I lived on Potomac Ave – the last street before the big hill down to the tracks and then canal – from 68 – 72. I as almost 10 when we moved overseas. Potomac Palisades, which to me is the river side of MacArthur, was an awesome place to grow up b/c you were in the city but it felt like country. Lot’s of places to explore: woods with turtles and deer; streams with frogs and salamanders; tunnels under the road where the streams flowed into waterfalls (you can still see them from Canal Rd.); that little playground with swings and see-saws; Dalecarlia Reservoir; Highs; the movie theater; DGC for getting deposits back on cans. At the Arizona Ave end of Sherrier PL you could see the trolley tracks under the grass median. Long time.
    Have revisited many times over the years and though it has not been unaffected by the purple finger of affluence it is still charming.