Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
A bronze likeness of Chief Justice John Marshall, visible on your way to the next Heritage Trail sign, keeps watch over John Marshall Park to your right. Marshall is remembered for molding the U.S. Supreme Court into today's authoritative body. Appointed by President John Adams, Marshall served a record 34 years until his death in 1835. He participated in more than 1,000 decisions, including the 1803 Marbury v. Madison
, which defined the court's authority to declare "unconstitutional" laws passed by Congress.
John Marshall Park replaced John Marshall Place (originally 4½ Street), a few blocks of small shops and law offices that once linked Washington's first City Hall/Courthouse with Pennsylvania Avenue.
The monumental buildings and sweeping views here along Pennsylvania Avenue are the result of city planner Peter C. (a.k.a. Pierre) L'Enfant's grand 1791 vision for the Nation's Capital. But in the early 1800s, when Congress met only a few months annually, this stretch of Washington's main street was known as "Hash Row," lined with boarding houses and hotels serving members of Congress and individuals doing business with the Federal Government. Guests at Elizabeth Peyton's boarding house on this spot included Chief Justice Marshall and Senator Henry Clay.
A number of photographers recorded city business and ceremonial life here as well. C.M. Bell's studio of the late 1800s rivaled Mathew Brady's for portraits of Washington notables and distinguished visitors. Bell became known especially for photographing hundreds of American Indians in town for treaty negotiations.
To reach Sign e.2 at the corner of Sixth Street and Indiana Avenue, please proceed north along the John Marshall Park walkway past the statue of Marshall by William Wetmore Story,then turn left on C Street and right on Sixth.
The Civil War (1861 - 1865) transformed Washington, DC from a muddy backwater to a center of national power. Ever since, the city has been at the heart of the continuing struggle to realize fully the ideas for which the war was fought. The 25 signs that mark this trail follow the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglas, and others, famous and humble, who shaped a nation and its capital city while living and working in historic downtown DC.
Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown Heritage Trail
is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided tour consists of three distinct loops: West, Center, and East. Each one-mile loop offers about an hour of gentle exercise.
A free booklet capturing the trail's highlights is available at local businesses and institutions along the way. To download the free Civil War to Civil Rights Audio Tour, and learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CuturalTourismDC.org.