Greater Greater Washington

Is the city's last horse tie in Anacostia?

Blue stone curbing, laid primarily in the late 19th and early 20th century, can still be found in parts of Capitol Hill, Le Droit Park, Mount Pleasant, and Georgetown. On U Street SE, in Historic Anacostia, blue stone curbing also endures, holding possibly the last remaining horse tie in the city.


Photo by the author.

Is this horse tie on the 1300 block of U Street SE the last one left? Do you know of any others?

Anacostia was established in 1854 as the city's first subdivision. A few relics of the past, such as the horse tie, remain in plain sight. Horse ties, usually accompanied by a copper or iron ring, have all but vanished from American cities, with the notable exception of preservation-minded Portland. The tie on U Street SE appears to have survived for more than 100 years.

In Anacostia, where residents such as Frederick Douglass agitated the city for years to make repairs to his street (Jefferson Street, now W Street SE), petitioning Congress for infrastructure improvements was a generational exercise, passed down from father to son, mother to daughter.

The Washington Post reported on May 22, 1909 that the District Commissioners budgeted for street improvements across the city. Its article laid out the details of the long-awaited public works project: "That U street southeast between Nicholas avenue [now Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE] and Fourteenth street be improved by setting blue stone curb on both sides, relaying cobble gutters and regulating surface of roadways with gravel, at an estimated cost of $1,100 chargeable to appropriation for 'streets in Anacostia.'"

Along with the blue stone, after all these years the horse tie in Historic Anacostia abides.

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John Muller is an associate librarian, journalist and historian. He has written two books, Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC, Mark Twain in Washington, DC, and also writes at Death and Life of Old Anacostia

Comments

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You mean they didnt drive cars? I thought all the roads in DC were built entirely for cars. At least that is what AAA says

by SJE on Apr 23, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

probably, but there are other horse-related street furniture pieces still remaining in Capitol Hill and Georgetown.

by Richard Layman on Apr 23, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman- there are other horse-related street furniture pieces still remaining in Capitol Hill and Georgetown. What are they?

by Tina on Apr 23, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

Georgetown has some of those horse-head posts around. Not sure if they're original or just a latter day affectation (like most of the colonial decoration and the shutters). There's a stone step on the sidewalk on O St. Looks like it might have been moved there because it's not near the curb.

There used to be a lot more of these, but some residents pushed to get rid of them due to the tripping hazard.

by TM on Apr 23, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

Tragically, the "War on Horses" has all but eliminated these noble beasts from our streets.

by Phil on Apr 23, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

Why isn't DDOT talking about horselanes and hitching posts? What are they trying to hide from us?

by Alan B. on Apr 23, 2013 3:26 pm • linkreport

I thought all the roads in DC were built entirely for cars. At least that is what AAA says

Not sure about AAA but that is what many here at GGW say all the time.

by HogWash on Apr 23, 2013 3:30 pm • linkreport

heh. The Lebowski horse ring. Well played.

by Ronald on Apr 23, 2013 4:06 pm • linkreport

Wasn't sure if I should write this or not but I thought about digging that thing up and holding onto it one day after watching American Pickers. Had no clue what it was, or that anyone gave a shit about it. Glad I didn't :)

by SW,DC on Apr 23, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

Last I looked for it, there was a horse-tie on the curb around Saint Mary's on 5th between G and H.

by Claire on Apr 23, 2013 6:56 pm • linkreport

There was a pole (broken partly) on 6th St. SE. I thought I had a photo of it. Lots of examples of boot scrapers. And not exactly the same but many block and tackle set ups for hay and carriage houses.

by Richard Layman on Apr 23, 2013 7:31 pm • linkreport

_Bluestone_ curbing.
A historic survey of transportation resources was done for HPO back in the 1990s.

by MBG on Apr 23, 2013 10:54 pm • linkreport

The bluestone is great.

Used to see DDOT removing that from Cap Hill streets.

Hated to see that.

by Hillman on Apr 24, 2013 6:56 am • linkreport

The fact that developers were no longer required to provide horse ties with their new construction was the first shot fired in the war on horses.

by Tyro on Apr 24, 2013 8:26 am • linkreport

DDOT removed the bluestone from a road not too far from my house (Capitol Hill) last year.

Although I guess it's sad to see that part of history disappear, the new granite curbs look great, and do a much better job of preventing erosion after rainstorms.

Also, they used the opportunity to replace the strip of bricks between the street and curb, and did a fantastic job replacing all the sidewalks.

by andrew on Apr 24, 2013 8:28 am • linkreport

I used to live in the Norwood in Adams Morgan, and at the base of front entrance columns are what I always thought to be horse ties. You can see them clearly in Street View (http://goo.gl/c0Gs7). The building dates back to around 1906 or so. It's a well maintained building, so it wouldn't surprise me if these are legitimate.

by Nick on Apr 24, 2013 9:08 am • linkreport

@Nick and a side note: That's the building Talulah Bankhead lived in the Norwood when she was a little girl.

by Mark on Apr 24, 2013 9:14 am • linkreport

Nick: That looks like a boot scraper. Another thing that was necessary in the days of horses.

by SJE on Apr 24, 2013 9:51 am • linkreport

John, what a great find!

by Jerry A. McCoyy on Apr 24, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

Don't forget about Lincoln's hitching post outside the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mvjantzen/1282067350/

by MV Jantzen on Apr 24, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

I think it's actually the FIRST horse tie. They're coming back.

by Mark on Apr 24, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

Within the many miles of alleys in Washington, lie remnants of stables and horse ties. In one alley, I have even found a horseshoe mortared between two bricks to serve as a horse tie. The link I have provided will show a couple of examples that exist within 100 yards of my home.

by David Salter on Apr 24, 2013 11:15 pm • linkreport

"Car" is short for carriage. What do you think carriages were pulled by?

by Eric on Apr 28, 2013 3:33 am • linkreport

Thank you for sharing your documentation, David Salter. I'll need to check some out some of these ties the next time stop by the DC Archives.

I've enjoyed following your blog over the years and have meant to ask you: A trusted friend told me there were still horse stables in Shaw as late as the 1990s/early 2000s? Is this true?

by John Muller on Apr 28, 2013 5:38 pm • linkreport

Thank you for sharing your documentation, David Salter. I'll need to check out some of these ties the next time stop by the DC Archives.

I've enjoyed following your blog over the years and have meant to ask you: A trusted friend told me there were still horse stables in Shaw as late as the 1990s/early 2000s. Is this true?

by John Muller on Apr 28, 2013 5:40 pm • linkreport

There are still many stables in alleys throughout the city. Just no horses in them. Rock Creek Park stables still have horses of course. At one time recently there was a commercial stable down by the Navy Yards (wedding carriages etc.). I am unaware of any "active stables" in Shaw during the timeframe you mentioned.

by David Salter on May 1, 2013 4:51 am • linkreport

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