Southwest Heritage Trail

Great American Rail-Trail

Architecture Black History Migration & Immigration

This 1939 photograph captures the small rowhouses and backyards on the blocks to the south and west of the United States Capitol building.

In the 19th century, the neighborhood south of the National Mall resembled New York City’s working-class neighborhoods more than the genteel row houses to the north of the nation’s capital. Migrants from the South, immigrants from Europe and working-class Washingtonians lived in crowded, deteriorating quarters. These conditions led the District of Columbia to implement the nation’s first large-scale urban renewal plan in the 1950s. River Farms to Urban Towers: Southwest Heritage Trail is a self-led walking tour through the neighborhood. You’ll travel as far into the past as the 1790s and stroll all the way into the present, passing by the District’s most recent commercial developments along the waterfront.


Discover History on the Trail

Culture House DC

This community cultural center used to be Friendship Baptist Church, an African American congregation formed in 1875. The congregation commissioned...

Trail: Great American Rail-Trail
State: DC
Arts, Entertainment & Sports Black History Religion
Chinatown Friendship Archway

Although the Chinatown Friendship Archway was built in 1986, a Chinese community has lived and owned businesses in this area of Northwest Washington,...

Trail: Great American Rail-Trail
State: DC
Architecture Asian American/Pacific Islander History Migration & Immigration
Forest Service Information Center

The big draw to this little museum is an animatronic Smokey Bear who, when approached, reminds you that “Only you can prevent forest fires.” The...

Trail: Great American Rail-Trail
State: DC
Nature & Environmental Management
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Discovering America: Reconnecting People and Places

The Great American Rail-Trail promises an all-new American experience. Through 12 states and the District of Columbia, the trail will directly serve nearly 50 million people within 50 miles of the route. Across the nation—and the world—only the limits of imagination will limit its use.

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