Words and Deeds

Words and Deeds (HMEEA)

Location: Washington, DC 20001
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 54.181', W 77° 1.326'

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Midcity at the Crossroads

— Shaw Heritage Trail —

Wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie donated funds to build the Beaux Arts-style building you see across the street to your left, the city's first public library. The Central Library opened in 1903 with 12,412 books by its predecessor, the private Washington City Free Library.

The public library welcomed all races at a time when the city was generally segregated. It occupied an unofficial border between businesses that primarily served Whites to the south, and those that largely catered to African Americans to the north. The library became a resource beloved by all where speakers such as civil rights activist and lecturer Mary Church Terrell gave public leture. Edith Morganstein who grew up nearby in the early 1920s called "the beautiful building with magnolia trees all around" her "second home."

The library's square was part of Pierre L'Enfant's 1791 plan for Washington, and it was unused until Northern Liberty Market opened there in 1846. The market became notorious in 1857 when a citywide election erupted in violence. Members of the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant "Know-Nothing" party trained a cannon on opponents arriving that day to vote at the market's polling station. Mayor William Magruder appealed for help to President James Buchanan. Soon 110 Marines arrived. When the Know-Nothings refused to disperse, the Marines fired. Six were killed and 21 were injured.

In 1872 the deteriorating market was ordered demolished by Territorial Governor Alexander "Boss" Shepherd. Defying proper procedures and without notice, Shepherd had the building razed at night, accidentally killing several inside.

When parts of the city went up in flames the day that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in1968, this neighborhood was badly damaged. Order was restored when U.S. Army troops and National Guardsmen were brought in to end the burning and looting.
Series This marker is part of the Carnegie Libraries series
Marker Number1 of 17
Placed ByCultural Tourism DC
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 5:08pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 324656 N 4307957
Decimal Degrees38.90301667, -77.02210000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 54.181', W 77° 1.326'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 54' 10.86" N, 77° 1' 19.56" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202, 703
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 801 Mt Vernon Pl NW, Washington DC 20001, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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