Keep Living in the Past

Photo courtesy of
‘Drawing of proposed National Airport’
courtesy of ‘DC Public Library Commons’

The District has a very cool history, and it’s amazing to think how it has changed over the years. One of the coolest parts of this history is how DC has physically changed since it was planned. We talked a little bit about this when I busted the myth that DC was built on a swamp, but here’s an even cooler way to see it: historical map overlays in Google Maps!

There are two maps you should really check out, DC in 1851 and DC in 1861. You can make these layers transparent and see how the landscape of the city has changed since then. Hains Point, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial were all water back then, but places like Georgetown look exactly the same. Take a look and leave a comment with anything cool you find!

Shannon grew up in the greater DC area/Maryland suburbs, went to Virginia for college and grad school (go Hoos!), and settled in DC in 2006. She’s an urban planner who loves transit (why yes, that is her dressed as a Metro pylon for Halloween), cities, and all things DC. Email her at Shannon (at)!

One thought on “Keep Living in the Past

  1. Pingback: More Cool Historic Maps » We Love DC