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Hill History

A Neighborhood Beyond Congress

For more than two hundred years, the residential neighborhood stretching east from the U.S. Capitol has been home to people of all backgrounds and walks of life. Its principal employer in its early days was not Congress but the Navy Yard, builder of ships and munitions on the banks of the Anacostia River. Carpenters and craftsmen, slaves and freedmen, merchants and government workers intermingled to create the diverse and vibrant community that stands here today.

For a good thumbnail sketch of the neighborhood and its heritage, go to Ruth Ann Overbeck's chapter on Capitol Hill in Washington At Home, edited by Kathryn Schneider Smith (second edition published 2010). Or, for a more extensive review of Hill history, read the series of interviews with Ruth Ann that were tape recorded shortly before her untimely death.

We also recommend an article by one of our project’s key advisers, George Washington University professor John M. Vlach, which undercuts the oft-repeated claim that Capitol Hill was once known as Jenkins Hill.

In addition, our Lecture Series page includes links to a few full transcripts of past lectures. We’ve also compiled a bibliography of Capitol Hill and D.C. history.

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    The Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project, Washington, D.C.