Why Is It Named…?

What is the history behind the names of popular locations in Washington?

Looking eastward along the I-495 Capital Beltway in Virginia, east of Springfield, toward the Beltway bridge over the Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac (RF&P) Railroad (today's CSX Railroad) in the distance. The highway was nearing completion but not yet open to traffic at this time. Notice that the roadway has three lanes, and that the roadway is paved with reinforced Portland cement concrete. When originally built, the Beltway in Virginia had six lanes (three each way) between I-95 at Springfield and across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and all the way through Maryland. This photo was taken in 1963 by the Virginia Department of Highways.

Origin of the Term “Beltway Bandit”

Before the days of Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, the term ‘Beltway Bandit’ was applied to the nefarious behavior of a common area criminal — a true bandit if you will. Application of the term...
Eaton School children in the 1910s

Why Is It Named? The D.C. Public Elementary School Edition.

We have seriously slowed down our posts because Ghost Baby is growing up, and there’s also Ghost Baby #2. So Mrs. Ghost and I are of course very interested in the D.C. public elementary school system....

Why Is It Named Adams Morgan?

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,...

D.C.’s Diagonal Street Names, Letters, and Numbers

Wonder what Washington DC diagonal roads are named after? Here's the history of DC's street names including states, letters, and numbers.

Why Is It Named Langley, VA?

Langley, VA is the headquarters for the CIA. What's the history behind the area's name?
George Calvert - Baron of Baltimore

Why Is It Named Maryland?

This was cross-posted on Ghosts of Baltimore. Washington, D.C. Received most of its land, about two-thirds, from the state of Maryland when it was formed in the late 18th century. The rest came from Virginia, and...
1900 Howell & Taylor map of Arlington showing early Clarendon

Why Is It Named Clarendon?

Clarendon started as a development off of the Georgetown to Falls Church road (now Wilson Blvd.) and the Washington, Arlington, Falls Church Railway.
Aerial view of Pennsylvania Avenue looking west, showing Federal Triangle and the National Mall. (2006)

Why Is It Named Federal Triangle?

Do you know the origin of the name "Federal Triangle"? Did you know that at one point the area was called "Pennsylvania Avenue Triangle"?

Why Is It Named LeDroit Park?

Well, you might not know this, but there really was a Mr. LeDroit … sort of. LeDroit Park was established as one of the first suburbs of Washington, D.C. That’s kind of hard to believe right,...

Why Is It Named Mt. Pleasant?

Samuel Brown sold all the surrounding land of Pleasant Plains estate and named the remainder Mt. Pleasant because it invited the highest part of the original estate.

Why Is It Named Woodley Park?

The namesake in England no longer stands as it was torn down in 1962, but the one in Woodley Park is still there. In 1950 it became the property of the Maret School and currently serves...
Oak View - home of President Cleveland - Oct. 3, 1897

Why Is It Named Cleveland Park?

What is today Cleveland Park was an area for well-off Washingtonians to build their summer cottages. It was far enough away from swampy hot downtown and elevated to provide some breezy relief.
Tysons Corner history: What it looked like in 1936

Tysons Corner History: Formerly Known as Peach Grove

Tysons Corner or Tysons used to be called Peach Grove. William Tyson owned a farm west of DC which would become the site of a major shopping mall.
Welcome to the Palisades sign

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....
Tunlaw Rd. and 39th St.

Why Is It Named Tunlaw Road?

There once was a great suburban Washington estate called Tunlaw, in what is today Wesley Heights -- the home stood at 45th and Klingle.
Glebe Rd. and 13th

Why Is It Named Glebe Road in Arlington?

Learn about Glebe Road. It dates back to the 1700s and initially was known as the "Road to the Falls" taking travelers from Alexandria to Great Falls.
Phoebe Hearst Elementary School

Why Is It Named Hearst Elementary School?

Hearst Elementary School up in North Cleveland Park, behind Sidwell Friends, is a cute little school for about 200 students. We’ve wanted to do a post on a local public school for a while and were...
Oak Hill

Why Is It Named Annandale?

We’re on a bit of a NoVA kick this week and wanted to do a little digging into the origin of another name, Annandale. Maybe you already know this, but I definitely didn’t. The European history...
Get Ghosts of DC by emailYou don't want to miss our best stuff in your inbox!