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In the initial years of Washington, D.C., most diplomats and ambassadors were housed in Lafayette Square. In 1872, Sir Edward Thornton built the United Kingdom’s embassy on 1300 Connecticut Avenue, just south of Embassy Row. Construction of the U.K. embassy is considered the origin of Embassy Row as a diplomatic neighborhood.
Between the North side of the U.S. Naval Observatory and Scott circle is a section of Massachusetts Avenue known as Embassy Row. Concentrated in the neighborhood and nearby streets are many nation’s embassies, inter-governmental organizations and other representations including unions, the Center for Global Development, American Enterprise Institute, and numerous others.
Considered Washington’s premier residential area in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, Massachusetts Avenue, with its “Millionaires Row” of ornate mansions, gained a reputation for housing the city’s social and political elite. The Great Depression, following the stock market crash of 1929, caused many of these homes to be sold. The estates were discovered to be optimal for use as social club lodges, embassies and diplomatic offices.