Ivy City forms a triangle in the center of the Northeast quadrant, bordered by New York Avenue to the northwest, West Virginia Avenue to the east, and Mt Olivet Road to the south. It got its name from Thomas Seaton Donoho, a Civil War-era poet and author who was fascinated with ivy. He called his house Ivy Hall and part of his land “Ivy City,” which became the neighborhood’s official name in 1873. Later the area was known for housing a horse-racing track, Ivy City Fairgrounds, until warehouses moved into the area and it became largely industrial. The neighborhood boasts its proximity to significant landmarks on each side, Gallaudet University, Mount Olivet Cemetery and Amtrak’s Ivy City yard. The original owners of the majority of the land surrounding present day Ivy City were the Fenwick family, descendants of Thomas Notley, the 8th Proprietary governor of the Province of Maryland from 1676 through 1679.
Today Ivy City is an up and coming neighborhood that has gone through significant improvements over the last three years after many buildings were bought by a local developer, Douglas Development. At the heart of the changes is Hecht Warehouse, built in 1937 in an art deco architectural style, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The outside has been touched very little, while the inside was overhauled and turned into 335 luxury apartments, some retaining unique original architectural elements, and including three courtyards as common areas for the residents. Surrounding Hecht Warehouse are a Mom’s Organic, a CrossFit gym, Ivy City Smokehouse and other restaurants and retail outlets. In 2017 Douglas Development purchased another, 15-acre, parcel of land nearby, which is becoming the home of NewCityDC. There, current residents can expect to see apartments, townhomes, 550,000 square feet of retail, hotel rooms and parking, as well as a grocery store and a movie theater. This further development is helping Ivy City become a neighborhood everyone is talking about.