Why Is It Named Adams Morgan?

Adams Morgan in 2010 by Carol Highsmith (Source: Library of Congress)

If you go to Adams Morgan on a regular basis, you should probably know at least the basic history of the neighborhood, which is actually the combination of several older Washington neighborhoods: Kalorama Triangle, Lanier Heights, Reed Cooke, and Washington Heights. Of those, you might be familiar with Kalorama, but unless you’re a serious local history buff, you probably don’t know the others.

Hopefully you remember your high school history regarding Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1954 desegregating schools across the country. The name Adams Morgan was born from this with a goal of quickly and peacefully integrating the two neighborhood schools: the all-white John Quincy Adams School and the all-black Thomas P. Morgan School. The two school principals called neighborhood residents together and the result was the group founding the Adams-Morgan Better Neighborhood Conference.

Washington Post - 10/21/56
Washington Post – 10/21/56

The neighborhood group was first mentioned in The Washington Post on Sunday, October 21st, 1956 titled “New Slum Plan Drafts Area Aid” talking about addressing the declining neighborhood. Below is an excerpt from the piece.

 An unusual program, first of its kind in Washington, is being mapped to roll back deterioration in a Northwest neighborhood, housing perhaps 30,000 persons.

The cooperative venture, cutting across racial lines, is an attempt to couple energy of residents, resources of the District government, and Federal funds into an attack on blight that has not yet become irreparable.

Sponsor of the “stitch-in-time-saves nine” program is the Adams Morgan Better Neighborhood Conference. Members are citizens and school, civic and church organizations in the area.

So there you have it. When you’re out in Adams Morgan later this weekend, make sure you share the story and let your friends know that you know the origin of the name.

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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