Street Car Extensions and a Columbia Heights Building Boom (1902)
I came across a great advertisement for plots in Columbia Heights. It dates back from July 20th, 1902. A few obvious differences that stick out: Georgia Ave. was named Brightwood Avenue, Irving St. was named Kenesaw St., Park Rd. east of 14th St. was named Whitney Ave.
Here is some of the advertisement (paraphrased because it’s quite long).
The 11th street car line (double track) will soon be extended to Holmead Manor, one square south of North Columbia Heights. On the strength of this important street car line extension over $500,000 worth of houses have been erected or are under course of construction adjacent to 11th street extended, and as much more will be expended in the immediate future.
Don’t think $500,000 is something to laugh at. That was quite a fair bit of money and houses in Columbia Heights costs between $2,000 to $5,000 on average to build, so half a million dollars is maybe around 150 homes.
The same building boom is also beginning on the line of 16th street extended. Quite a number of handsome houses are now under construction on the line of this new thoroughfare. These houses are being erected and hundreds of others will follow solely on account of the plans to immediately extend the Connecticut avenue car line east on Columbia road and north on 16th street extended to Mount Pleasant. What effect will the extension of these two important double track street car lines have on real estate values at North Columbia Heights? This means the expenditure of at least five million in new houses on or adjacent to these two important thoroughfares in the next year or so. This means a demand for more ground, and North Columbia Heights comes next. Remember Old Columbia Heights, Holmead Manor, and Mount Pleasant made millions in profits for those who had the foresight to buy the ground in advance of the city improvements and with the advantages of only one car line (14th street). North Columbia Heights will have three car lines–11th, 14th, and 16th streets. You can, therefore, look for much quicker results and higher values in North Columbia Heights.
An expenditure of five million dollars is somewhere north of $150 million in todays dollars. That’s a serious real estate boom.
It is a well-known fact that the thermometer registers 14 degrees cooler in the summer in our vicinity than the downtown districts. This means pure air, refreshing sleep, and a good appetite, which are absolutely necessary if you wish to enjoy perfect health. It means a comfortable summer home, as well as a winter home, within 18 minutes of the Treasury Department.
Ask any physician where to live in Washington and they will say on the heights, in the northwest, is the healthiest section of the city as it is far above the malarial districts.
Pure air, refreshing sleep and a good appetite? Are you laughing at that like I am? Although I do have a pretty good appetite when I go to Chipotle in Columbia Heights.
$50 to $100 cash and $15 to $20 monthly on each lot, or one-third cash, balance 1, 2, and 3 years. 5 per cent. Off for cash.
Money loaned to build at lowest rates of interest.
Carriages free to see the property.
You will regret it if you invest in government bonds, stocks, or real estate elsewhere without first seeing our investment and comparing it with what others are offering you.
Sounds like this Fulton R. Gordon gentleman was a major real estate player in D.C. around the turn of the century. I suspect that a number of your reading this post live in or near the highlighted section of the above map, so Fulton had a lot of impact on the house in which you are currently living.
- Perils of a Columbia Heights Fire Run (1900) (ghostsofdc.org)
- If Walls Could Talk: Big Bear Cafe (ghostsofdc.org)
- Nick Altrock: A Columbia Heights Major Leaguer (ghostsofdc.org)
- What Happened to the Electric Car? Buy a Rauch & Lang Coupe (1909) (ghostsofdc.org)