Why Is It Named MacArthur Boulevard?

If you’re a fan of D.C. history, you’ll know that MacArthur Blvd. used to be called Conduit Rd. You probably also know that it was named for General Douglas MacArthur, the famous World War II general. But, the story behind it is a little more interesting than just renaming a street after a prominent American.

Welcome to the Palisades sign
Welcome to the Palisades sign

We did a little digging and found out that the street name was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on March 5th, 1942. Now, it seems a little odd that a street would be renamed for a general, not only in the middle of a global war, but only about four months in for the U.S.

General MacArthur was considered an early hero in the war when he and his 80,000 troops valiantly, but futilely defended the Philippines against the invading Japanese. Though not successful in this defense, he was largely considered a major hero by the country.

Flip back to the Palisades community along Conduit Rd. The community didn’t feel the name reflected the type of neighborhood they wanted to project and actively sought to rename it. A former resident, living on Potomac Ave. Chauncey Carter lived off of Conduit Rd. and was pushing to rename the road. World War II patriotism and the emergence of MacArthur as a hero gave him the perfect candidate to honor by renaming the road.

Carter drafted up a bill and worked with one of his friends in Congress, Representative Luther Johnson, a democrat from Texas, renaming the road MacArthur Boulevard.

Below is Chauncey Carter’s draft registration for World War I. In my research, it wasn’t clear whether the Chauncey being mentioned was the father or son (because there was a junior), but my assumption is that it was the elder as the younger was born in 1918, and somehow, I just assume that he wouldn’t be interested in pushing to rename the street at the age of 24. Plus, the community had been pushing to rename the road since the mid 1930s.

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Chauncey Carter's World War I draft registration
Chauncey Carter’s World War I draft registration

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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