The Mount Vernon Triangle Neighborhood Guide
The establishment of Mount Vernon Triangle’s Community Improvement District in 2004 catalyzed the neighborhood’s transformation into a desirable place to live, work and play.
Rapid, commercial-focused redevelopment in the 21st century was a product of careful urban planning and partnerships, which yielded a growing stock of high-rise condos, apartments and office buildings with ground-level retail.
Mount Vernon Triangle thrived as a vibrant economic center throughout the better part of its tumultuous history, until the middle of the 20th century.
In the early 1800s, the Seventh Street corridor became vital to commerce and transportation. The Northern Liberties Market opened in 1845, two years after residents petitioned the D.C. City Council to create a public market. Initially a produce operation, it flourished and invited ancillary vendors to the area. In 1872, the market moved to a larger, enhanced facility that accommodated 240 purveyors at Fifth and K streets. This attracted enterprising German, Irish and Jewish immigrants, who replaced tenuous frame structures with sturdier brick ones. The area at this point was densely populated, mercantile and dotted with a smattering of architectural styles.
Two decades later, the market became Washington, D.C.’s first convention hall, enabled by a second-floor expansion that allowed it to seat 5,000 people. As car ownership grew in the early 20th century, many homes along the heavily trafficked commuter route were converted to gas stations, garages and car repair shops. As the area industrialized, becoming less hospitable to residents, a fire consumed the Northern Liberties Market in 1946.
After a failed reopening attempt it shuttered forever in 1963, triggering an exodus of longtime residents and businesses. The riots that ensued after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968 claimed several buildings and were the proverbial nail in the coffin for the neighborhood. By the 1980s, it had devolved into a desolate, crime-ridden and undesirable place.
Mount Vernon Triangle’s revitalization started in 2002 with a public-private partnership comprising the D.C. Office of Planning and 10 major property owners. Supported by a number of agencies, the team endeavored to make the area livable by establishing a community improvement district, reactivating streetscapes, revamping public spaces and bringing retailers back to the area. Mount Vernon Triangle is now an attractive place for young professionals, and may entice more families with further image rehabilitation and development.