Alley Life

Alley Life (HM2E1H)

Location: Washington, DC 20001
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 54.516', W 77° 1.449'

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Midcity at the Crossroads

—Shaw Heritage Trail —

You are standing at the entrance to Naylor Court. It was built in the 1860s as one of the hundreds of intersecting alleys hidden behind DC houses. Stables, workshops, sheds, and often cheap two-story houses, built for the poor of all races, filled the alleys. While many of its old dwellings are gone, a few remain in Naylor Court. It forms half of the Blagden Alley-Naylor Court Historic District.

During the Civil War housing crisis, builders crammed hundreds of dwellings into these tight spaces. Most lacked running water, plumbing, or electricity, and quickly became dilapidated. Yet the need for shelter was desperate. In 1908, more than 300 people filled 50 Blagden Alley dwellings, averaging seven per household and paying $6 a month in rent.

In 1900 Nochen Kafitz, a Lithuanian immigrant, opened a grocery in his house a few blocks away on Glick Alley. (The alley, now gone, once ran between Sixth, Seventh, and S streets and Rhode Island Avenue.) His son, Morris Cafritz (1887-1964), became a real estate developer and philanthropist.

Alley dwelling construction was outlawed in 1934, but the buildings lingered. Some hidden alleys attracted prostitutes, gamblers, drug dealers, and speakeasies. Others, though, were tight communities, where people who happened to be poor looked out for one another.


1990 the city moved its archives to the former Tally Ho Stables, built in 1883. Since the '70s, the small dwellings, former carriage barns, and horse stalls have housed artists' studios and residences as well as working garages.
HM NumberHM2E1H
Year Placed2006
Placed ByCultural Tourism DC
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, February 3rd, 2019 at 4:02pm PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 324492 N 4308581
Decimal Degrees38.90860000, -77.02415000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 54.516', W 77° 1.449'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 54' 30.96" N, 77° 1' 26.94" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202, 703
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 905 O St NW, Washington DC 20001, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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