The Reservation 13 Archaeological Site provides evidence and historic documentation of prehistoric communities existing in what would become DC, further supporting evidence found at other archaeological sites. Located near the Anacostia River in the Hill East neighborhood, the area has hosted a number of different communities, buildings, and history over time.
The archaeological evidence found at the site suggests that three distinct groups of indigenous people could have lived in the area: Paleo-Indian (12,000 - 7000 BCE), Archaic (12,000 - 7000 BCE), and Woodland (1000 BCE - 1600 CE). While archaeologists propose that the findings at this site suggest Paleo-Indian occupation, there is historic evidence of indigenous populations living in the area throughout the 17th century as well. At the time of European arrival in the 17th century, the Anacostan people lived in the Nacotchtank village on the east bank of the Anacostia River – across from Reservation 13. European settler John Smith noted the village’s existence on an exploratory voyage of the area in 1608.
After European settlement in the area and pushing indigenous people out, the land was used for residential and agricultural purposes. Later, the area transformed into an Army and Navy magazine outpost, due to its advantageous location along the water. After the military left the area, the land just north of Reservation 13 was turned into the Washington Asylum in 1846. The institution housed “the indigent poor, criminals, the insane, and persons with infectious diseases,” but was known for its harsh treatment and conditions. Due to this, the Gallinger Hospital was built to replace the Washington Asylum.
Since then, the various buildings and land have changed hands and purposes, but most recently the surrounding area has been slated for major redevelopment, including residential, commercial, and retail spaces. Development began in 2018, and continues today.
DC Inventory: March 16, 1988