The University That Ate Foggy Bottom

Foggy Bottom in Washington, DC used to be a blue collar neighborhood just to the west of the White House, complete with lumber yards and gas storage tanks. Modest rowhouses lined the streets, and it was a relatively inexpensive tract of land, until George Washington University moved in.

Ironically, the university moved because the expensive neighborhood of Columbia Heights, the university’s original home, caused the school to look for cheaper digs, thus the move to Foggy Bottom.

Ironically, Foggy Bottom skyrocketed in value due to its close proximity to downtown, while Columbia Heights shrank into obscurity.

The Washington Post gave GW the moniker “The University That Ate Foggy Bottom” in recognition of the enormous amounts of land acquired by GW.

Much of what is left in Foggy Bottom has now been bought by the university, or it has its eyes on it.

Here is a wonderful Italianate mansion that is now the headquarters of campus police. Below is a surviving intact alley house, which was very common in the neighborhood.

The building below was owned by an elderly woman, who passed away a few years back; the university snatched it up and restored it as offices.

The white building at the end of the block is the Jefferson Lee, a flop house where they periodically had to remove bodies from. Don’t get me wrong, Foggy Bottom is now an expensive neighborhood, but traces of its gritty past remain.

This picture shows the headquarters of my Master’s program, but when I went to GW it was in another building.

Foggy Bottom is strange mix of the past, ugly new highrises built by GW, and a little bit of everything in between.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jamie says:

    Cool. Though the Columbia Heights has since emerged from obscurity and is once again expensive.

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