This tour features key sites in the history of black homeseekers’ efforts to rent or buy whites-only housing. Discover why Bloomingdale’s premier architectural corridor was also a racial barrier, and how civil rights attorneys chipped away at this dividing line in the 1920s-‘40s.
During the first half of the 20th century, Bloomingdale’s white developers and residents used racially restrictive deed covenants to prohibit the sale or rental of property to African Americans. When Bloomingdale was first developed beginning around 1900, black families already lived on the blocks immediately north, south, and west of here, and many lived in overcrowded and substandard housing downtown. This neighborhood's new housing stock and prime location attracted middle-class families seeking more space and homeownership. As a result, it became a national epicenter of legal challenges to racial covenants; around half of the cases in DC originated here.
In 2018, Bloomingdale was designated a Historic District based, in part, on its role in the national battle for fair housing.
Locations for Tour
“‘A Strictly White Residential Section': The Rise and Demise of Racially Restrictive Covenants in Bloomingdale," Washington History, Spring 2017
Worthy Ambition: LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail, Cultural Tourism DC, 2015