Tour of Duty
—Barracks Row Heritage Trail —
America's oldest navy and marine installations are just blocks from where you are standing. This is the northern edge of a Capitol Hill community shaped by the presence of the U.S. military. Eighth Street is its commercial center. The Washington Navy Yard anchors the far end, where Eighth Street meets the Anacostia River. At this end, just one block from here, is the Old Naval Hospital. And halfway in between is the Marine Barracks, home of the United States Marine Band and inspiration for a local boy who made good: John Philip Sousa.
Eighth Street was planned as a commercial avenue leading to a natural harbor on the Anacostia River, where city designer Pierre L'Enfant designated a future trade center. But in 1799 President John Adams decided instead to give the site to the Navy for its Washington shipyard. Either way, Eighth Street was destined to be a street of business. In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson added another military installation: the Marine Barracks at Eighth and I Streets. Soon, as the Navy Yard became a major employer, small businesses emerged along Eighth.
This community grew with the young nation. As you walk this trail, you'll see a variety of 19th- and early 20th-century building styles. They are reminders of the neighborhood's economically diverse population - laborers, merchants,
marines and sailors, and the politically powerful.
U.S. Marines and neighborhood children pose outside the old Marine Barracks, circa 1890. Tucker's Grocery (1919) operated from the house you can see to your right at the corner of Seventh and D from 1903 until 1935. President John F. Kennedy speaks to sailors aboard the U.S. Coast Guard sail training ship Eagle
at the Navy Yard. L'Enfant's original plan for Washington placed a mercantile exchange (trading center) where the Navy Yard is today. The brand-new Wallach School (1863), designed by noted architect Adolf Cluss, was located where you can see today's Hine Junior High School across Pennsylvania Avenue. Reverse:
When celebrated composer John Philip Sousa walked these streets, people called this Capitol Hill neighborhood "Navy Yard." While the Navy Yard is no longer the area's major employer, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps still anchor this pleasant residential community and its vibrant commercial center on Eighth Street, SE, now known as Barracks Row. The 16 signs that mark this walking trail describe temporary sojourners as well as families who have lived here for many generations. From Michael Shiner an African American laborer working at the Navy Yard, to John Dahlgren, a weapons pioneer and confidant of President
Abraham Lincoln, their experiences have given the community its distinctive character. Follow this trail to the places that tell these stories and much, much more.Tour of Duty: Barracks Row Heritage Trail,
a booklet of the trail's highlights, is available at businesses along the way. Visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org
to learn about other DC neighborhoods.List of contributors and sponsors to the Barracks Row Heritage Trail.Caption: The Washington Navy Yard, seen here in 1862, first built ships and tested ship designs before becoming a center of weapons design and manufacturing. For more than a century, it was the neighborhood's largest employer.Naval Historical Center