Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
"Hay for the horses, produce for the table, live chickens for the pot, and a hat for your head."
All this and more could be had right here during the Civil War. The triangular area just ahead to your left was called Major Space. The city's sprawling City Market stood just to your left, where the National Archives is today.
The jumbled haymarket, indispensable in a world of horse-drawn vehicles, was just west of the City Market on Ninth Street. Up and down Pennsylvania Avenue a shopper could find clothing and other necessities in the little stores nestled between the city's most popular boarding houses and hotels.
This area was the heart of 19th Century Washington. Seventh Street was the main route for farmers traveling to and from the city with their produce. During the Civil War, it was a strategic route for soldiers traveling to some of the 68 forts that surrounded the city. Pennsylvania Avenue linked the White House and the Capitol. For more than a century, the place where these streets crossed would be the city's town square.
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.