Washington DC Southeast


Washington DC Southeast

These days, with the redeveloping of neighborhoods in most of Washington D.C.’s communities, the Washington DC Southeast section is becoming the last of its kind.

While there has been a black presence in the city of Washington D.C. since its beginning, the area of Washington DC Southeast had two specific areas, Barry Farm and Anacostia, that has been communities for African-Americans since the 1800s.

Supposedly, Barry Farm was one of the first places that accepted black residents in Washington DC as the small neighborhood became a home for freed slaves.

washington dc southeast

Today’s Barry Farm area

After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and people began to riot and protest soon after, many white families left Washington DC Southeast for the suburb communities in the Maryland counties.

By the 1970s, the Southeast was a predominantly black community with people moving and relocating to areas like Congress Heights, Washington Highlands, Marshall Heights, and other Washington DC Southeast neighborhoods.


With the city becoming mostly African-American and gaining the nickname of Chocolate City, the streets began to take shape, especially in the 1980s and 90s.

The heart of the streets in one of the most respected places in the city was and still is the Washington DC Southeast project and apartment buildings.

For generations, many of these communities had their own reputations, from being well known in the streets to being publicized on television.

Projects like Kentucky Court or Potomac Gardens in the Captiol Hill neighborhood, 37th Street’s Fort Dwellings and Stoddart Terrace, 58th Street, Benning Terrace aka Simple City, Barry Farm, or Woodland Terrace aka Langston Lane / Lench Mob.

washington dc southeast ghetto

Potomac Gardens

To continue, the small complexes in Anacostia like Pitts Place or Cedar Gardens, the number of projects in the Highlands, like Alley Mob of Condon Terrace or Whaler Place, the apartment buildings like Wellington Park and Stanton Oaks, or others around MLK and Alabama Avenue.

washington dc southeast

22nd Street off Alabama Avenue


Starting in the 1990s and 2000s, gentrification began to change the city’s racial makeup, with the name of Chocolate City becoming unrelated to today’s Washington DC.

With gentrification, the city used the government’s HOPE VI program which is provided by the department of Housing of Urban Development (HUD) to rebuild and demolish certain communities.

The South Side or south of the Anacostia River is the only section of the city that has not been widely affected by Washington D.C.’s gentrification, with exception to a few housing projects like Eastgate, the 58th Street Projects of East Capitol Dwellings and Capitol View Plaza, Stanton Terrace of Stanton Dwellings and Frederick Douglass Dwellings, the Washington Highlands Valley Green and Linda Pollin, and Sheridan Terrace.

washington dc southeast

The rebuilt Eastgate

Many of D.C.’s housing projects were rebuilt through the government’s Housing of Urban Development funded Hope VI programs when the government gives cities across the country finances to demolish and rebuild its housing projects.

Confrontations and conflicts were centered around the rebuilding process of Washington DC communities.

Example of problems included, residents claiming the housing authority was allowing apartment units to deteriorate so they can be claimed as unlivable and eventually to be demolish or the promising of rebuilding led to less than half of the original units being replaced.


Check out more on the communities in the city of Washington DC

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

  • naeema1

    I lived in South East DC for three years as it was close to my job, I did not experience any violence. People were really polite and decent and helpful. I am thankful for the experience I had.
    When I had to change the job and work near the columbia heights Metro. I would take the Metro from Congress heights which was only 3 blocks from my condo. and take the green line to columbia heights. I never saw any violence . I think all violence when it happens is drug related . So if you are not into drugs you will be quite ok there.
    The problem I see there is , the lack of development in terms of that which is helpful to the people living there is not much. For eg: Schools do not have the playgrounds like you see in suburbs. Schools look like they are in a third world. Then there are not much jobs opportunities there. No Walmart , which can create so many jobs. Or no computers training institutes that could train young men and women to gain good jobs. So that they can look forward to a nice future, so that they do not have to indulge in intoxicating themself with liquids or solids or waste their times trying to hustle. . Some short cources in the high school, I think there is Ballou high school, if they have trade cources , in case if they do not, then that will create a really good constructive atmosphere and for the good of the people. Student will come out of high schools with earning abilities. That is very important for the young man and woman that is graduating. They must have some skill , like carpentry or nursing or car mechanic. They can go for higher education , if they interested to become doctors or engineers or administrators or lawyers. But they must have some skills to make money to have some decent , kind of help and self respect and self confidence. Then I do not think there will be anymore drug problem there. It will take time to bring about this change though , if the government makes those middle and high school education good and meaningful.
    Things are changing though . I see new Giants come there on Alabama ave. And Ihop too. and there is a small regional library in the same complex , staffed by very friendly people. I used to enjoy that library , Giants and the Ihop.
    There are a lot of churches there. Churches in front of Churches and Churches at the side of Churches and Churches on top of the Churches. For real . I am not joking. Yet none of them seem to engage in constructive activity . None of them seems to be Working like the late Great Adam Clayton Powel’s Abbysinia Baptist Church . That helped the people with resume, soup kitchens, job training , job searches, Sewing training etc etc. If they did , I think the drug problem will go away too, because the young people will realise it is easy to making money by 6-9 months of job training , than by hustling and loosing life or entering jail, leaving their mothers and sisters, and daughters and wives out there unprotected and uncared
    and they themself ending wasting the precious life that God has given to them. To make something good out of it.
    So as anybody else , young people like to do what is easy too. So if job creation , and job training is made a priority in high schools and in churches or Mosques in S.E. Dc. it can be a heaven on Earth. Just like what Jesus said. Thy will be done oh heavenly father , as it is there with you, so let it be here. ( I am parpharasing the lord’s prayer ) . I am a Muslim , and love the Lords prayer , as I love the prayers from my Qur’an too , which is the Muslim Bible. Qur’an also teaches total submission to God and that Service to mankind is worship to God.
    That is my take . Govt. should give more amenities to the SE DC schools , they should not be like third world schools. that is number one change to happen there.. Then the second one , if Govt.does not do it , or not willing to do it or or can’t do , Then the community leaders specially the Churches and masjid ( I think there is one there on Albama ave now a days. , there used to be one on MLK but unfortunately it got closed.) So the relgious leaders can take the prescription of Honorable Adam Clayton Powell and bring about a change for the better. I think it is doable if even one Priest or Imam takes it as a dedicated social worker, dedicated to reform the community. It will be a great example of change , a good one and an easy one to emulate for the entire Nation’s inner Cities. ( I think the situation is worst in Chicago , with drug related murders in 12 -13 each week end. Very sad though. )
    Once I happened to be at Clara Mohammad School, at one their graduation ceremonies . It used to be on MLK ave. I do not know if it is still open or not.
    Seeing the neat and clean well dressed and well mannered children, with smily faces , was such a pleasure and honor to be there. In fact the Late Imam Warith Deen Mohammad was also there at that time and I was lucky to see him that day.
    This is my wish for people their that they prosper in Peace and Plenty.
    After America has prospered from the sweat and blood of their ancesters , why not the govt. make an extra effort , a genuine effort to help change and see this generation prosper too.? I think it should be done and it can be done and it must be done. By the involvement of the govt. leaders and the community leaders as well. After all we live only once , To Live with a Cause to Create a Template of Success for the inner city Youth will be a nice Cause to Live for or to Die for.