View of Washington from Georgetown Heights in 1865

It’s often hard to believe how rural much of Washington appeared in the 19th century. This is one of those photographs that you marvel at for a while.

The image shows a view of Washington, down the Potomac River from the top of Georgetown in 1865. You can also see Aqueduct Bridge from Virginia into Georgetown and Mason’s Island (i.e., Roosevelt Island today). It was taken by William Morris Smith and we dug it up at the Library of Congress.

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View of Washington and the Potomac from Georgetown in 1865
View of Washington and the Potomac from Georgetown in 1865

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  • Bilsko

    I believe that’s also the Washington Monument – incomplete – at the far left of the shot.

    A few other observations:

    Its incredible just how wide the Potomac was back then – it makes it clear just how much work had to be done to build up the land for the airport.

    In the foreground, you can see what I assume are the Washington Aqueduct pipes making their way down Canal Road (coming from the Georgetown Reservoir on what was then Conduit Road on their way over to McMillan). I think those same pipes (or their replacements) are now under Canal Rd.

    Looking just beyond those pipes you can see barges and horses along the C&O Canal too.

    What a great photograph!