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Washington Underground: Archaeology in Downtown Washington, DC,
a walking and metro guide to the past...

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DC Archaeology Tour Contents

Locator Map
Archaeology in DC
Urban Archaeology
A-Rare Achievement
B-Self Medication
D-Crowded Housing
E-Pardon Our Dust
F-Safe Water
H-Path of History
I-2nd Hand Economy
J-Oldest Profession
Making Do
Other Sites
For More Information

G - Changing Neighborhood

Location:  Block Corner at 9th and E Streets, NW (see MAP)
Metro: Metro Center Station (Red-Orange-Blue lines)

(see additional informational links below)

What if you could stand across the street for a few hundred years and see this corner change? In the 1790s you’d watch Dr. John Crocker build a fine brick home complete with stables, smokehouse, outbuildings, and a cistern to hold clean water. By 1800 the house was the city post office. Soon after, newspaper publisher Joseph Gales, who also served as Mayor, lived here until he and his family moved to Lafayette Square. From the 1830s until the Civil War you could watch Congressmen and others come and go from this fashionable boarding house. You would notice the creek that formed one boundary of the property.

In the 1860s you might be sad to see the house demolished to make way for new retail buildings as the streets were graded and the stream channeled into a stormwater drain. In the early 1900s you’d call this a vibrant area with clothing shops, theatres, movie houses, burlesques, tattoo parlors, restaurants and penny arcades. You might wave to Harry O. White, who managed vaudeville acts here until at least 1916 and lived at 506 9th Street.

Upstairs he left behind tickets, photographs, business cards and other items, including an advertisement for Wilfrid the Wizard Presenting an Artistic, Wired and Comedy-Magical Production. Vaudeville faded away and by the 1960s and 1970s this area was well known for pornographic theatres and shops. The New Gayety Theatre closed in 1987.

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Washington Underground:
Archaeology in Downtown Washington, DC,
a walking and metro guide to the past...
was produced cooperatively by the National Park Service, National Center for Cultural Resources, Archeology and Ethnography Program; the District of Columbia Office of Planning, Historic Preservation Office; the Center for Heritage Resource Studies, University of Maryland, College Park; and the Society for American Archaeology.

Additional Links

Lafayette Square
Transformation of Downtown DC ('Boss' Shepherd Got the Jog Done--at a Steep Price)
New Gayety Theatre (from the Rainbow History Project)

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