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Congress Heights

Southeast, Washington D.C.

Congress Heights, in southeast Washington, DC, is predominately a residential area, but has recently also become known for a place to go for sports and live concerts due to the addition of the Entertainment and Sports Arena. Gateway DC, an open-air music and event venue, is also in the area and hosts popular music and food festivals as well as other community gatherings.The Congress Heights Art & Culture Center on MLK Avenue and The ARC (Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus) are also popular cultural offerings of the area.

The neighborhood known today began as forest and farmland. Surrounding area was open water, but was filled in and reclaimed for use in the 1880s. Congress Heights was officially founded in 1890 and was named by a newspaper publisher, Colonel Arther E. Randle who wanted to have a settlement east of the river. It was a great location with its bluffs and great views of the city. Randle was predicting it would be a profitable investment because of the construction of the Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge (replaced by the John Philip Sousa Bridge) in 1887 and he was correct. To continue his success he invested in the Belt Railway, a local streetcar company, and later founded the Capital Railway company, which constructed additional streetcar lines over the Navy Yard Bridge and down Nichols Avenue to Congress Heights.

The last working farm within the District of Columbia was in Congress Heights, which shut down in 1939. From the 1930s to the 1950s the residents were comprised of many southerners who moved from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and worked at the Navy Yard or at Bolling Air Force Base. Followed by a time of neglect after World War II, Congress Heights welcomed a boom of development with nineteen different projects happening in the early 2000s. These projects included the redevelopment of St. Elizabeths West Campus for federal use, a new Giant Grocery Store, enhancement of an existing shopping center and new residential units. Housing options include garden apartments and older single family bungalows.

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