Our Unfair Share 3:


Race & Pollution in Washington, D.C.


African American Environmentalist Association




The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA), founded in 1985, is dedicated to protecting the environment, enhancing the human ecology, promoting the efficient use of natural resources and increasing African American participation in the environmental movement.   AAEA is one of the nation's oldest African American-led environmental organizations. 


AAEA’s main goals are to deliver environmental information and services directly into the black community.  AAEA works to clean up neighborhoods by implementing toxics education, energy, water and clean air programs.  AAEA includes an African American point of view in environmental policy decision-making.  AAEA resolves environmental racism and environmental justice issues through the application of practical environmental solutions.


Our Unfair Share 3:

Race and Pollution in Washington, D.C.



Norris McDonald



Sulaiman Mahdi

Contributing Editor


Research Assistant

Pamela Pittman


Administrative Assistant

Pamela Jones



Red Letter Group, Inc


Editing Assistance

Ronald Taylor


Contributing Scientists

Dr. Felix Nwoke

Dr. Gustave Jackson


© 2000 by the African American Environmentalist Association.  All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the African American Environmentalist Association. Funding for his report was provided by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice and Friends of AAEA.  The views, recommendations and opinions expressed in this report are those of the African American Environmentalist Association and do not necessarily reflect the views, recommendations or opinions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or Friends of AAEA.






Executive Summary                               




Chapter 1. Race, Cars, and Lead


Chapter 2. Race, Dumping and Land Use


Chapter 3. Race and Facility Air Pollution


Chapter 4. Race and Toxic Sites


Chapter 5. Race and Water Pollution


Chapter 6. Race and Housing


Chapter 7. Neighborhoods


Chapter 8. Nutrition


Chapter 9. Race, Spills, Leaks, and RCRA


Conclusions and Recommendations




Charts (Links)









            Our Unfair Share III: Race and Pollution in Washington, D.C. was prepared by the African American Environmentalist Association with funding provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA), Office of Environmental Justice and Friends of AAEA.  Many people contributed to the preparation of this report. 


Special recognition and thanks to Pamela Pittman, research assistant for Our Unfair Share III; she collected and analyzed the majority of the information contained in this report.


Special thanks to the consultants who collected and analyzed pollution data and assisted with community outreach: David Hahn-Baker, Dr. Gustave Jackson (geology), Dr. Felix Nwoke (chemistry), Pamela Jones, Pamela Jones, Karen Blagburn, Roger Small and John Rosenthal.


Special thanks to the late James Wilson for providing river tour services on the 65’ Bewildered.  Thanks to Joe Fogle and Jim Williams for providing boat tour services.  Thanks to Deeohn Ferris for partnering with AAEA to initiate Our Unfair Share I.  Thanks to National Wildlife Federation and Friends of the Earth for cosponsoring OUS I and II, respectively.


Thanks to Seafarer’s Yacht Club, especially Commodore Billy Cobb and Past Commodore Howard Gasaway, for comprehensive river access services.


Special thanks to Howard University, WHUT Channel 32 TV, Kojo Nnambdi and Joe Madison for public outreach support.  Thanks to Dick Gregory and The Washington Post for permission to reproduce nutrition and neighborhood information.



Race is the dominant factor in determining exposure to pollution in Washington, D.C.  Caucasian Americans have congregated in Ward 3 (88% white) largely due to racism and African Americans almost completely occupy Ward 7 (98% black) due to racism (including red lining) and preference for self-segregation.  Caucasian Americans live in the ward with the least amount of pollution due to power, money, and historical dominance. Although African Americans, as minority populations in other cities, are often disproportionately affected by pollution in those locations; blacks in Washington, D.C., as a majority population, are disproportionately impacted by pollution.


Racism can be as subtle as an off-hand joke.  Environmental racism can be as lethal as cancer, disease, and death.  Every day, citizens in this country are exposed to racism discharged into the minds, hearts and souls of the recipients.  Every day, citizens are exposed to pollutants discharged into the air, water, and land by industry, government agencies, and municipalities.  Racism divides us citywide, community-wide and block-by-block. Heavy metals, synthetic chemicals, and toxic residues are in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.  Every day, citizens are exposed to racism discharged from toxic minds.


Ward 1 is 57% black, 30% white, and 13% other races. 


Ward 2 is 43% black, 50% white, and 7% other races. 


Ward 3 is 6% black, 88% white, and 6% other races. Least polluted.


Ward 4 is 85% black, 12% white, and 3% other races. 


Ward 5 is 90% black, 9% white, and 1% other races.


Ward 6 is 72% black, 26% white, and 2% other races. Serious pollution.


Ward 7 is 97% black, 2% white, and 1% other races. Serious pollution.


Ward 8 is 91% black, 8% white, and 1% other races. Serious pollution.












Ranking of Pollution Sources By Ward in Washington, D.C.









Rankings by Ward and Pollution Type



1 Worst


8 Best


Wards 1 and 7 contained the least amount of RCRA waste.




Source: AAEA



No Permits

No Sites












No Info











No Permits























Note: Chart does not include undocumented sources of pollution.



BLACKS ON THE WATER: A Tribute to Seafarer’s Yacht Club –1945 to 2000


            Mr. Lewis T. Green, Sr. organized the Seafarer’s Yacht Cub, originally Seafarer’s Boat Club, in 1945.  Mr. Green was a teacher at Brown, Shaw Junior High, and Armstrong Senior High Schools in Washington, D.C.  He taught woodcarving at these institutions for a number of years.  Mr. Green, a gifted craftsman, also built a boat.


            Mr. Green loved the waterways and began a search to find a home for his boat.  In his search, he found an isolated swamp.  Looking over the swamp, he thought about how it could be used.  He inquired about the land and was informed that it belonged to the Department of the Interior.  He decided to pay a visit to the Department.


            Upon his arrival at the Department, Mr. Green met with one of the Deputy Secretaries and told him of his quest.  The Deputy Secretary informed Mr. Green that if he could establish a boat club, he would try to help him get the land.  Mr. Green met with some of his boating colleagues who shared his dream.  The dream would offer African Americans the opportunity to engage in the enjoyment of the waterways through safe boating and gentlemanly sportsmanship.  Henceforth, the Seafarer’s Boat Club was born.  They returned to the Department of Interior with the hope of obtaining the swamp as the future marina.


            After waiting patiently for months, with no response from the Department, they presented their vision to Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator of the people.  Mrs. Bethune, who was an aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on African American affairs, interceded by arranging a meeting with Mr. Harold Ikces, then Deputy Secretary, Department of Interior.  Mrs. Bethune informed Mr. Ikces about the plight of the boatmen, who in turn, contacted the National Park Service Land Leasing Department.  The National Park Service advised the Seafarer’s that the land would be rented to them for $13 a month.  However, the club would be responsible for clearing the land.  Their dream had come true and the marina was initially called Green’s Boat Yard.


            Concurrent with this history, the D.C. Mariner’s Boat Club was founded in the early 1950’s.  This club also practiced safe boating and gentlemanly sportsmanship.  In 1964, Mr. Green decided to move on and the D.C. Mariner’s Boat Club held discussions on what to do about the boat yard (marina).  The decision was made, and elections were held in 1965.  The D.C. Mariner’s Boat Club merged with the Seafarer’s Boat Club.  Prior to this merger, a group of Seafarers left to form the Seafarer’s Yacht Club of Annapolis, Maryland.  Now, fifty-five (55) years later, the original Seafarer’s Yacht Club (D.C.) headquarters are still located on the original site, 1950 M Street, S.E., Washington, D.C.  20003.


            The Seafarers have a strong commitment to boating safety and community services.  They are constantly finding different ways to share with others the pleasures they reap from the banks of the Anacostia River and surrounding waters.  Club members (Captains) have given their time and vessels for a variety of charity and community events.  One of the events, the Seafarer’s Yacht Club Annual Anacostia River Clean-Up, begun in 1985, has expanded into the Anacostia River Clean-Up Day, with participation from various Anacostia groups, businesses, District of Columbia government agencies, Federal government agencies and the community.


            Seafarer’s leadership over the past fifty-five (55) years has included the following Commodores: Mr. Lewis Green, Mr. Harold Putman, Mr. Bob Martin, Mr. George Stockton, Sr., Mr. Howard Gasaway, and Mr. Billy Cobb.




On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia.  Passage of this act came 9 months before President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. (National Archives and Records Administration, 1997)


Black and white Americans are overexposed to pollution.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Toxic Release Inventory in 1991, U.S. industry reported dumping 3.39 billion pounds of toxic chemicals into air, water, and land nationwide.1 Our calculations indicate that the Nation’s capital is exposed to at least 362,374 tons of pollution per year.  The information in this report will show that most of the serious pollution in Washington, D.C. is located in predominately African American communities.


            Increased awareness about pollution, environmental injustice and environmental racism has led citizens to demand the right to know about the risks and hazards associated with pollution originating in their communities.  In addition, they are demanding that industry and government take an active role in reducing and eliminating pollution and in developing progressive, long-term solutions to environmental problems.


            The city of Washington coexists with the District of Columbia, which is the seat of the federal government of the United States.  Benjamin Banneker, a distinguished black architect and astronomer, completed the official map and design of the city.   As African Americans moved to Washington, D.C. during the migration from the South, Caucasians moved out of the city.  As construction of federal, municipal, commercial, and residential facilities increased, population and pollution increased.  African American home purchases and residency were limited until about the 1960s due to segregation and redlining.  The rate of black migration into Washington was moderated only by the rate of "white flight" out of the city.  Although whites live throughout the city (minimal in Ward 7), Ward 3 became the natural location of choice for the white population.  


             Although blacks make up 13 percent of the nation's population, African Americans are currently 66 percent of Washington's population.  Blacks dominate Washington, while whites rule the District of Columbia.  Real estate firms, homeowners, and purchasers all benefited from the sale or rental of three-fourths of all Washington homes during the white flight period.  Rural and suburban living has imposed long commutes on Caucasians working in the District of Columbia and deposits millions of pounds of additional automobile pollutants to the air of the predominately African American residents in Washington.


            The l963 March on Washington and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 accelerated access to jobs and public accommodations for African Americans.  Congress enacted the D.C. Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization (Home Rule) Act on December 24, 1973.  The Home Rule government took office in January 1975.  Until then, the federal government exercised control over all District activities since it moved to Washington from Philadelphia in 1800. The federal government maintains oversight and veto power over District affairs.  Thus, blacks have exercised planning authority over Washington, D.C. affairs for about three decades.  Home rule authority has had limited to non-existent impact on pollution sites, particularly federally owned toxic sites.  Hopefully, the next 30 years will provide opportunities for the application of practical environmental solutions.


            The combination of air and water pollution with potential superfund sites, generators of hazardous waste and leaking underground storage tanks makes a toxic soup.  District residents, daytime workers and visitors are consuming this broth on a daily basis.  Extremely hot weather exacerbates the effects of these pollutants.  Storms move pollutants through the streets and the sewer pipes to southern city inhabitants.  


            A child in Anacostia with asthma can be exposed to multiple sources of pollution through: eating PCB-contaminated fish, breathing fumes from power plants, auto exhausts from commuter vehicles along neighborhood highways, eating lead paint chips and drinking lead contaminated water, playing in lead-contaminated dirt, exposure to nightly killings, burglaries, rapes and robberies, living next to abandoned mass-burn incinerator ash, being surrounded by potential superfund sites and generators of hazardous wastes, and living on ground soaked by leaking underground storage tanks.


                 Gasoline service stations provide the fuel that causes the smog and other vehicle exhaust pollutants in the city.  These same service stations are the largest documented source of leaking underground storage tanks in the District.  These stations service 300,000 District registered vehicles and some percentage of the 2,841,745 registered vehicles in the Washington Metropolitan Area. (COG) These vehicles provide approximately 70 percent of the District's air pollution.  These cars and trucks, which represent two percent of all cars and trucks in the U.S., also represent two percent of all oil used in the transportation sector in the country.  The District, with only 11 percent of the registered vehicles in the metropolitan area, is exposed to disproportionate quantities of mobile source air pollution.


             The District of Columbia is disproportionately impacted by pollution from federal facilities.  Within the District portion of the Anacostia watershed, approximately 30 percent of the total acreage is federally owned.2


            Finally, in addition to documenting types and amounts of pollution by race and income, this report examines this information by census tract. 


How This Report Can Help


            Recognizing sources of pollution and the proximity of these toxics to people of color communities is a crucial first step in assessing environmental racism and pollution risks.  The African American Environmentalist Association developed this report to identify relationships between the racial composition of our nation’s capital and point sources and nonpoint sources of pollution in the air, water, and land. Point sources of pollution are regulated by the government and include commercial and industrial facilities (e.g., electrical plants), federal government facilities (e.g., heating plants, military complexes), and municipal facilities (e.g., sewage treatment plants).  In order to discharge pollutants, some point sources of pollution are required by federal environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, to obtain permits from the government.  The permits, specific to each discharger, identify particular pollutants that may be emitted, are valid for a specific amount of time, and must be renewed and updated periodically by the polluting facility.  These permits do not address the racial composition of the surrounding communities.


            Nonpoint sources of pollution are not discharged from a pipe, smokestack, or other specific, stationary "point."  Typical unregulated sources include urban water runoff, and sewer overflows, which are caused by rainfall, and vary constantly.  Although nonpoint sources of pollution cover large areas, racial factors can still be factors in the distributions and exposures to various toxic substances.




Instructions for Using This Report


            This report can be used as a working document by researchers, students, government officials, environmental and civil rights organizations, and the general public.  The quantity of information is organized for convenient cross-referencing.  Information on race and income of residents near pollution sites can be examined by census tract or by zip code.  Information on types and amounts of pollution is also included for these sites.  The general demographic information is at the front of the report.  The zip code section also includes the census tracts. 


            The demographics for Spill dischargers and RCRA sites were characterized by Ward due to the large number of listed sites. Demographic information for Leaking Underground Storage Tank sites should be obtained by locating the site on the census tract map.  RCRA sites can also be cross-referenced by using the zip code to obtain demographic information.  


Limitations of the Report


            This report is limited to Washington, D.C., which has unique environmental, racial, political, cultural and economic characteristics. 


            The data in this report is based on information obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the EPA Region III Office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in Washington, D.C., Landview II CD database, U.S. Census Bureau and observations and research by AAEA. Most of the information on point sources of pollution in this report is limited to permit information provided by the above agencies.


            AAEA research also indicates that, although specific types and amounts of pollution are identified, different databases sometime contain conflicting data.  Moreover, racial category data is based on 1990 Census information and is subject to change.  Information from the Landview II CD database does not always match Census Bureau data.


            This report does not examine the interactive effects of environmental racism, black-on-black crime, behavioral practices, nutrition, health, self-reliant remediation, Brownfields redevelopment, alternative technologies, and sustainable development.  This report emphasizes comparative analyses of black/white racial categories and does not provide commentary on other minority groups.  A future report should supplement AAEA’s existing information with an examination of these interactions.




            Although pollution from the point sources outlined in this report significantly contributes to the degradation of the environment in the District of Columbia, non-point sources of pollution contribute equal or greater adverse effects to the environment.3 The most serious forms of  non-point sources in the District include:  (1) automobile and truck air pollution, (2) urban water runoff, (3) combined sewer overflows, (4) illegal dumping, (5) spills, (6) leaking underground storage tanks, and (7) business activities.  This survey provides the first comprehensive examination of the combination of sources of pollution and racial characteristics in the District of Columbia.




            William Kruvant's "American Energy Consumer," study of spatial patterns of air pollution and residence showed that poor and black Washington, D.C. residents had the greatest chances of being exposed to poor quality air.  They were not, however, the only ones so exposed; members of Congress also lived in areas with heavy air pollution.4


            Smog includes several dangerous chemicals:  carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and fine particulates.  Carbon monoxide impairs functioning of the central nervous system.  Nitrogen dioxide weakens the lungs and decreases resistance to infection.  Ozone inflames lung tissue, and fine particulate matter acts as a carrier for other cancer-causing agents that lodge in the lungs.5 Especially sensitive to air pollutants are children under 10 years of age; adults over 65 years; persons with asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, or coronary heart disease; and pregnant women.


            Like metropolitan areas across the nation, motor vehicle usage is high in Washington, D.C.  In "The 1982 Air Quality Plan for the Metropolitan Washington Region," the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) identified vehicle emissions as the largest single source of air pollution in the area.6 According to MWCOG, the 2,841,745 registered vehicles in the metropolitan Washington region emit 369 tons of hydrocarbons, 1,693 tons of carbon monoxide, and 161 tons of nitrogen oxides every day.  There are approximately 300,000 registered vehicles in the District of Columbia.7 In addition, the number of motor vehicles used in the area is rising as the combined Washington, D.C./Baltimore metropolitan area becomes the fourth largest metropolitan area in the U.S.  The District violates federal health standards set by the EPA for ozone levels and is listed in the "serious" category of ozone violation areas.  During summer months, the amount of ozone pollution in the air in metro Washington region exceeds EPA limits an average of 11 days (Code Red-Unhealthful). 8
















Data Source





Number of Vehicles




Metro Wash Regis Vehicles






DC Registered Vehicles







Rush Hour into D.C.







Source: MWCOG

600,000 D.C. Residents (Approximate)


234 pounds of air pollution per resident per year from vehicles.


580 pounds of air pollution per car per year of from vehicles.


154 pounds/black resident...80 pounds/white resident


Source: AAEA


            While traffic and air pollution are problems throughout the city, we believe motor vehicle air pollution is concentrated along the interstates and highways that serve as major commuter routes.  These include:  Interstate Highway 66 (Ward 2), Interstate Highway 395 (Ward 2), and Interstate Highway 295 (Wards 8, 6, and 7), U.S. Highway 50 (Wards 2, 5), U.S. Highway 1 (Wards 2, 5), and U.S. Highway 29 (Wards 2, 1, 4).  Moreover, the Interstate Highway 495 (Beltway) and Interstate 95 are the major highways for the Northeastern corridor of the U.S.  Most of the heaviest traffic in the District of Columbia is channeled through the Southeastern portion of the city.   The largest stationary sources of air pollution are also located in the Southeastern portion of the city.


            The District of Columbia is listed in the "serious" category of ozone nonattainment areas.  The deadline for the District to meet federal Clean Air Act standards was 1999.  The EPA ozone design value standard -- a near-peak ozone level used to determine whether the area's air meets the ozone standard is 0.12 parts per million (ppm).  Those areas listed in the "serious" category have ozone levels between 0.160 ppm-0.180 ppm.  The categories include marginal, moderate, serious, severe, and extreme.9 



            The Environmental Protection Agency concludes in a report entitled "Environmental Equity" that "Racial minority and low-income populations experience disproportionate exposures to selected air pollutants...” The District of Columbia has major thoroughfares in the southern part of the city where African Americans populations predominate. Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory, studying the demographics of areas designated by EPA as out of compliance with the Clean Air Act, found that higher percentages of African Americans and Hispanics, compared to whites, live in air pollution areas for particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, and sulfur dioxide.10




            Lead is a highly toxic material.  Children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning because the metal can damage a child's growing nervous system, creating nerve disorders and learning disabilities.  The Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) current threshold of concern for lead levels in children's blood is 10 micrograms per deciliter of whole blood (ug/dl). 11 The District has a program to test homes for lead and children for lead poisoning, but, like many cities, does not have an effective program for lead cleanup. 











































































































































































































































































SOURCE: Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), Housing Inspection Division. Figures are from the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.



            The listing of housing investigation results provides a very small sample of blood lead levels by ward.  The housing investigations are conducted when a child's blood lead level is found to be elevated. The listing is not comprehensive or conclusive and any conclusions drawn from the results should take these factors into consideration.  Factors such as amended blood lead levels, number of homes investigated, equipment upgrades, and the number of available investigators are just a few of the factors which limit the scope of the listing.  The listing does not address whether lead was found in the home; it simply notes that investigations were conducted due to an elevated blood lead level of a resident child. 


            Ward 3 had the least number of housing investigations and four years with no investigations.  Ward 1 had the most housing investigations.  The Housing Inspection Division inspected an average of 165 homes per year between 1986 and 1995.


            The Centers for Disease Control's current threshold of concern for lead levels in children's blood is 10 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dl) of whole blood.12 This is about a pinhead in one-tenth of a quart of blood.  Lead is a toxic metal that is particularly harmful to children if inhaled or eaten.  Lead can damage the nervous system and cause learning disabilities.  Children can inhale lead dust from raising and lowering lead painted windows.  Children also become lead poisoned by eating lead paint chips. Lead in drinking water and in the soil from decades of leaded gasoline use are other sources of lead contamination.  It is also estimated that forty percent of all black children may be lead poisoned compared to seventeen percent for all children under five years old.




            Many homes in the District of Columbia have lead water lines.  These lead pipes and lead solder used to connect copper pipes inside the home can be a source of lead contamination.  According to the D.C. Water and Sewer Utility Administration (WASUA), about 27,000 service lines are estimated to contain lead in the District of Columbia.  According to the D.C. Department of Public Works, recent tests on a sample of District homes found that nearly 11 percent exceed the standard for acceptable lead content set by EPA.  




            The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated that "there are clear differences between racial groups in terms of disease and death rates...a significantly higher percentage of black children compared to white children have unacceptably high blood lead levels (ATSDR, 1988)."  According to data from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, "Mean levels of blood lead were higher in blacks than whites among children and adults...The prevalence of elevated lead levels was 12.2 percent in black children and 2.0 percent in white children."13




            The U.S. EPA concluded in its "Environmental Equity Report" that the difference in higher blood lead levels in Black children compared to White children could be due to lead in gasoline (steps were taken to virtually eliminate lead in gasoline in the 1980's).  However, lead from automobile emissions (leaded gasoline) has been deposited in soils near streets and highways for decades.




            High lead levels have been found at the parking lot sites at RFK Stadium.  This site is in Ward 6 which is 72 percent black.  One recent sample at the site contained lead levels up to 200 times as high as the amount in most soil in the District. 




            In addition to addressing hazardous waste, the Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 include provisions on non-hazardous waste which require states to have solid waste management plans, to prohibit open dumping, and to dispose of non-hazardous solid waste in regulated landfills.


            Illegal dumping primarily occurs in the Northeast and Southeast sections of the District.  West of Rock Creek Park, dumping is rare.  The Park Service spends $350,000 annually removing illegally dumped debris from parkland in the eastern half of the city, estimates Leroy Brown, Chief of Maintenance for National Capital Parks-East.  By contrast, David Newman, Brown's counterpart at Rock Creek Park, says he spends only $15,000 annually cleaning up after illegal dumpers, as mentioned in the Washington City Paper article "Trashing the Neighborhood."14


            Recent dumping of dredge material in Kingman Lake, along with construction  dirt and debris at Kenilworth Park and Langston Golf course, indicates that this section of the city is a convenient dumping ground.  In addition, although the material has been removed, Children’s Island was used as a yard waste dump for years.  Toxic waste ash from the Benning Road Incinerator was also trucked to a dump site at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.  Wards 6,7 and 8 have absorbed a disproportionate amount of serious waste in Washington, D.C.


            Recent dumping of tires in Lower Beaverdam Creek just across the District line in Prince George’s County, along with years of such dumping, supports the fact that blackest Washington (Ward 7 and vicinity) is perceived and used as a convenient dumping ground.




            Wards 6, 7 and 8 are inundated with developed land uses.  Ward 6 includes: 1) the Anacostia River (repository for the city's poison runoff), 2) RFK Stadium, 3) the D.C. Jail, 4) D.C. Armory, 5) Swirl Concentrator, 6) Capitol Power Plant, and 7) Langston Golf Course abandoned landfill.


              Ward 7 includes: 1) Benning Road electric power plant, 2) Benning Road Incinerator (closed), 3) abandoned landfill at Kenilworth Park, and 4) Highway 295 (Wards 6, 7, and 8).  Ward 7 (especially between Highway 295 and Metro's Blue and Orange Subway line) appears to be one of the city's main illegal dumping sites.  Long lines of coal filled CSX railroad cars also sit on tracks in Ward 7 along Highway 295 and Metro's Blue and Orange Subway lines.


            Ward 8 includes: 1) Blue Plains Sewage Treatment Plant, 2) Bolling Air Force Base and 3) St. Elizabeth's Hospital and incinerator ash site. Ward 2, which has the largest identified number of leaking underground storage tanks, is also heavily developed.  Major sites include the U.S. Congress, Washington Navy Yard (a 605 acre navy installation), Buzzard Point electric power plant.


            All of the city's electric power plants are in southern locations in Wards 2, and 7).  Two airfields are in the southern part of the District of Columbia: 1) National Airport and 2) Bolling Air Force Base. Fort McNair, which is a CERCLIS site is also at the southern tip of Ward 2.


            CSX Railroad runs through Ward 2 and CSX and a Baltimore and Ohio railroad run through Wards 7 and 8.  Union Station is in Ward 2 and two Baltimore and Ohio railroad tracks run from Union Station through Wards 4 and 5.  One Penn Central Railroad line runs through Ward 5.  Very large quantities of toxic chemicals are moved through the city on the CSX rail line.


            These types of high-impact land uses and facilities are virtually nonexistent in Ward 3.  Ward 2 is 50 percent black, Ward 6 is 73 percent black, Ward 7 is 97 percent black and Ward 8 is 91 percent black. Ward 3 has more than half of Rock Creek Park, the largest forested park in Washington, D.C.  In terms of land use and racial demographics, whites occupy the relatively pristine Northwest and blacks occupy the overdeveloped and polluted Southeast. 


            One of the most important environmental victories in the city occurred in Ward 7: The defeat of a proposal by the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) to construct two (2) combustion turbines at the 75-acre site.  The River Terrace community led this grassroots environmental protest across Benning Road from the power plant.  George Gurley, River Terrace environmental activist and attorney Kevin Chavous (now Ward 7 Council Member), organized the opposition to the combustion turbine proposal and orchestrated the victory against the plan (proposed in June 1988) by time for the Earth Day 1990 commemoration.  AAEA supported the River Terrace community in this campaign and worked directly with Messrs. Gurley and Chavous.


                 Although Langston Golf Course (Ward 5) is one of the areas finest, part of its sits on top of an abandoned landfill (holes 3, 15 and 16).  A stream runs through the golf holes into the Anacostia River.  PEPCO is also installing high power electrical lines from its Benning Road Power plant through this section of the golf course.  Moreover, only two feet of land covers the golf course at the landfill location. Additional construction dirt has been added to this area.  The course is also elevated above the Anacostia River.  Thus, leachate from the Langston Golf Course landfill has been polluting the river for an extended period of time.  Holes 10, 11, 12, 13 and most of 14 are on land which was originally Anacostia River bottom sediment dredged to create the Kingman Island and Lake in the 1940's.




            Point sources of pollution are regulated by the government or are required by law to have a permit to discharge pollutants directly from their facilities.  Included in the listing are air pollution dischargers, water pollution dischargers, leaking underground storage tanks, generators of hazardous waste, and CERCLIS sites.


            Air pollution dischargers, water pollution dischargers, and generators of hazardous waste are all part of the federal permit program under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Solid Waste Disposal Act and are required to have permits from the government to emit, produce, or store pollutants.


            The Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to set air quality standards for six common pollutants: sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulates, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and lead.


            The following section will identify the racial composition of populations near stationary sources of air pollution.  The identifications will based on zip codes and census tracts.


Ward 1


1. The Washington Hospital Center is the largest stationary source of air pollution in the ward with 189 tons per year.  The racial composition at the census tract (23.2) is 40 percent black and 58 percent white. The largest area included in this census tract (23.2) is the U.S. Airmen’s and Soldier’s Home.


2. The Howard University power plant emits 96 tons per year of air pollution and census tract (34) population that is 96 percent black and 2 percent white.

Howard University has three other properties that emit one ton of air pollution each per year and the census tract (36 & 37) population is 73 percent black and 8 percent white.


3. The McMillan Water Treatment Plant, operated by the Army Corp of Engineers, emits one tone per year of air pollution and the census tract (34) population is 96 percent black and 2 percent white.



Ward 2


1. The GSA West Heating Plant emits 531 tons per year of air pollution and the census tract (56) population is 5 percent black and 88 percent white.


2. The GSA Central Heating Plant emits 247 tons per year of air pollution and the census tract (62.1) population is 0 percent black and 98 percent white.


3. The PEPCO Buzzard Point Electric is listed by DCRA’s ERA as emitting 160 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (64) 97 percent black and 2 percent white.


4. Georgetown University emits 337 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (2) population is 10 percent black and 80 percent white.


5. George Washington University emits a total of 83 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (57.2) population is 38 percent black and 63 percent white.


6. The Watergate Central Plant emits 19 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (56) population is 6 percent black and 88 percent white.


7. The Washington Post emits 4 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (52.2) population is 25 percent black and 48 percent white.


8. River Park Mutual Homes emits 5 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (60.1) population is 49 percent black and 45 percent white.


9. Columbia Hospital for Women emits 4 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (55.2) population is 3 percent black and 92 percent white.


10. L’Enfant Plaza East emits 4 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (62.1) population is 0 percent black and 98 percent white.


11. The U.S. Postal Service emits 3 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (62.1) population is 0 percent black and 98 percent white.


12. The National Press Building emits 1 ton of air pollution per year and the census tract (62.2) population is 35 black percent and 65 percent white.


13. L’Enfant Plaza North emits 1 ton of air pollution per year and the census tract (58) population is 20 percent black and 12 percent white.


14. Fort McNair emits 2 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (63.2) population is 16 percent black and 79 percent white.




Ward 3


1. American University emits 58 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (9.1) population is 4 percent black and 89 percent white.


2. National Zoological Park emits 6 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (5.1) population is 5 percent black and 89 percent white.


3. Sibley Memorial Hospital emits 49 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (9.1) population is 4 percent black and 89 percent white.


4. The Naval Security Station emits one ton of air pollution per year and the census tract (10.2) population is 8 percent black and 83 percent white.


5. The University of the District of Columbia emits one ton of air pollution per year and the census tract (12) population is 6 percent black and 88 percent white.


6. The Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant emits 2 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (9.2) population is 5 percent black and 91 percent white.


7. The U.S. Naval Observatory emits one ton of air pollution per year and the census tract (4) population is 4 percent black and 90 percent white.


8. The Washington Cathedral emits 21 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (4) population is 4 percent black and 90 percent white.


Ward 4


1. The U.S. Soldier’s & Airmen’s Home emits 195 tons of air pollution per year and the census (23.2) population is 40 percent black and 58 percent white.


2. Trinity College emits one ton of air pollution per year and the census tract (92.2) population is 57 percent black and 40 percent white.


3. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center emits 67 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (18.4) population is 90 percent black and 4 percent white.


Ward 5


1. Catholic University emits 28 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (95.2) population is 61 percent black and 37 percent white.


2. The Hospital for Sick Children emits one ton of air pollution per year and the census tract (93.1) population is 75 percent black and 22 percent white.


3. District Paving emits 39 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (87.2) population is 97 percent black and 2 percent white.


4. Faith Construction Company emits 24 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (91.2) population is 99 percent black and 1 percent white.


5. Gallaudet University emits 26 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (88.3) population is 75 percent black and 21 percent white.


6. Providence Hospital emits 9 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (95.2) population is 85 percent black and 14 percent white.


Ward 6


1. The U.S. Capital Power Plant emits 1,379 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (62.2) population is 36 percent black and 65 percent white.


2. The Washington Navy Yard, Building 116 emits 28 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (72) population is 82 percent black and 18 percent white.


3. The Washington Navy Yard also emits 9 additional tons of air pollution per year.


4. The D.C. Armory emits one ton of air pollution per year.  


5. D.C. General Hospital emits 67 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract


6. The Marine Barracks located at 8th Street, S.E. emits 5 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (65) population is 10 percent black and 87 percent white.


Ward 7


1. The PEPCO Benning Road electric plant emits 2,575 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (96.2) population is 99 percent black and less than one percent white.


Ward 8


1. St. Elizabeth’s Hospital emits 285 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (98.9) population is 81 percent black and 18 percent white.


2. The Naval Research Laboratory emits 80 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (73.1) population is 34 percent black and 57 percent white.


3. Bolling Air Force Base emits 10 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (73.1) population is 34 percent black and 57 percent white.


4. Hadley Memorial Hospital emits one ton of air pollution per year and the census tract (98.7) population is 96 percent black and 2 percent white.


5. D.C. Village emits 9 tons of air pollution per year and the census tract (73.8) population is 86 percent black and 12 percent white.


Heat Exacerbates Air Pollution Problems


     Impervious surfaces retain heat -- Washington, D.C. is a heat island.  The temperature in the District is usually ten degrees warmer than the surrounding suburbs. The hottest years on record for the District of Columbia were in the 1990s and may continue into the 21st century.  These high temperatures exacerbate the effects of ground level ozone, poison runoff, toxic humidity and combined sewer overflows.


    "Act locally, think globally," is a popular slogan in the environmental movement.  The District of Columbia has a very interesting climate.  The District is susceptible to acid rain, high pollen counts, ozone alerts, legendary August humidity, and lately, historically high temperatures. 


            The following section identifies the racial composition of populations near toxic CERCLIS sites.  The identifications are based on zip codes and census tracts.




            When an abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste site is identified, information about the site is entered into a database called CERCLIS, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System.  The CERCL Act was passed in 1980 and is more commonly known as Superfund.  Most CERCLIS sites are not superfund sites.  The Washington Navy Yard is the only superfund site in Washington, D.C.  It is in Ward 6, which is 73 percent black.


Ward 1


            There are no CERCLIS sites in Ward 1.  The racial composition of Ward One is 57 percent black, 30 percent white, and 13 percent other races.


Ward 2


1. The Tuxedo Valet toxic CERCLIS site information was unavailable and the census tract (49.2) population is 63 percent black and 29 percent white.


2. The Food and Drug Administration/FB-8 toxic CERCLIS site contains 42,946 pounds of toxic chemicals and the census tract (60.1) population is 49 percent and  45 percent white.


3. The Fort McNair toxic CERCLIS site contains 1,060,225 micrograms per liter of toxic chemicals and the census tract (63.2) population is 16 percent black and 79 percent white.


4. The National Archives and Records Administration toxic CERCLIS site information was unavailable and the census tract (62.2) population is 35 percent black and 65 percent white.


Ward 3


1. The Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant toxic CERCLIS site information was unavailable.  This information is confidential and exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.  The census tract (9.2) population is 5 percent black and 91 percent white.


2. The Soap Stone Creek toxic CERCLIS site information was unavailable and the census tract (10.1) population is 4 percent black and 91 percent white.


3. The Washington Chemical Munitions toxic CERCLIS site information was unavailable and the census tract (9.1) population is 4 percent black and 89 percent white.


Ward 4


1. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center toxic CERCLIS site contains 29,971 pounds of toxic chemicals and the census tract ( 18.1) population is 42 percent black and 48 percent white.


2. The Cuthbert St. Medical Waste toxic CERCLIS site could not be located (no street listing) and there was no information available.  Ward 4 is 85 percent black and 12 percent white.


Ward 5


1. The Bladensburg Road Site toxic CERCLIS site information was not available and the census tract (88.2) population is 99 percent black and 1 percent white.


2. The USDA National Arboretum toxic CERCLIS site contains 30,492,411 micrograms per kilogram of hazardous chemicals and the census tract (89.5-unavailable, so 89.4) population is 99 percent black and one percent white.


3. The Fort Lincoln toxic CERCLIS site information was unavailable and the census tract (90.1) population is 97 percent black and 2 percent white.


4. The International Transmission toxic CERCLIS site information was unavailable and the census tract (90.2) population is 95 percent black and 4 percent white.


Ward 6


1. The Washington Navy Yard toxic CERCLIS site contains 8,095 pounds of hazardous chemicals and the census tract (72) population is 82 percent black and 18 percent white.


2. The Washington Gas Light toxic CERCLIS site contains 61 milligrams per liter of hazardous chemicals and the census tract (71) population is 86 percent black and 11 percent white.


Ward 7


1. The PEPCO Benning Road Facility toxic CERCLIS site contains 22,614 pounds of hazardous material and chemicals and the census tract (96.2) population is 99 percent black and less than one percent white.


Ward 8


1. The National Park Service toxic CERCLIS site was unavailable and the census tract (74.1) population is 99 percent black and less than one percent white.


2. AAEA could not locate the Fenwick Road Trailer toxic CERCLIS site and used the zip code to establish the ward location.  The zip code population is 96 percent black and 3 percent white.


3. The St. Elizabeth’s Hospital toxic CERCLIS site contains 78,175 micrograms per kilograms and 10,020 micrograms per liter of hazardous chemicals and the census tract (98.9) population 81 percent black and 18 percent white.


4. The Bolling Air Force Base toxic CERCLIS site contains 69,267 micrograms per liter and the census tract (73.1) population is 34 percent black and 57 percent white.


5. The Anacostia Naval Station toxic CERCLIS site contains 18,630 pounds of hazardous chemicals and the census tract (73.1) population is 34 percent black and  57 percent white.


6. The Naval Research Lab A-11 toxic CERCLIS site contains 27,686 pounds of hazardous chemicals and the census tract (88.2) population is 99 percent black and one percent white.


            CERCLIS sites are uncontrolled hazardous waste sites that pose a direct threat to human health and wildlife.  The Superfund program, or the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), passed by Congress in 1980, set up a $1.6 billion fund, financed with taxes on certain chemicals and crude oil.  This fund enables the government to clean up sites and recover cleanup costs from polluters later.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has primary responsibility for enforcing the Superfund program, placing new sites on the National Priorities List, and assuring that the nation's hazardous waste sites are cleaned-up.


            The following section identifies the racial composition of populations near waste water pollution discharge permit holder sites.  The identifications are based on census tracts.




            The Clean Water Act of 1972 regulates the discharge of water pollution, requiring a federal permit be obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency in order to legally emit pollutants into any water body.  Public drinking water supplies are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Safe Drinking Water Act, while bottled water falls under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration.


Ward 1


There are no wastewater permit holders.  Ward 1 is 57 percent black and 30 percent white.


Ward 2


1.The PEPCO Buzzard Point wastewater permit holder site discharges 28 milligrams per liter (solids, oils & grease) and the census tract (64) population is 97 percent black and 2 percent white.


2. The General Services Administration West Heating Plant wastewater permit holder site discharges  59 milligrams per liter (solids, oil, grease) and the census tract (56) population is 5 percent black and 88 percent white.


3. The Amerada Hess Washington Terminal wastewater permit holder site discharge information was unavailable and the census tract (64) population is 97 percent black and 2 percent white.


4. The National Gallery of Art wastewater permit holder site discharge information was unavailable and the census tract (62.2) population is 35 percent black and 65 percent white.


5. The Goose Bay Aggregates, Inc. wastewater permit holder site discharges 21 milligram per liter (solids, oil, & grease) and the census tract (64) population is 97 percent black and 2 percent white.


6. The JFK Center for Performing Arts wastewater permit holder site discharge information was unavailable and the census tract (56) population is 5 percent black and 88 percent white.





Ward 3


1.  The Washington Aqueduct-Dalecarlia Plant wastewater permit holder discharges 99,000 milligrams per liter (solids, iron, aluminum) and the census tract (9.2) population is 5 percent black and 91 percent white.


Ward 4


1.  The Super Concrete Corporation wastewater permit holder discharges 78 milligrams per liter (solids, oil & grease) and the census tract (95.1) population is 61 percent black and 37 percent white.


Ward 5


There are no wastewater permit holders. Ward 5 is 90 percent black and 9 percent white.


Ward 6


1. The Barney Circle Freeway Modification wastewater permit holder information was unavailable.  This project was cancelled in 1996.  The census tract (71) population is 86 percent black and 11 percent white.


2. The D.C. Materials, Inc. wastewater permit holder discharges 19 milligrams per liter (solids, oil & grease) and the census tract (72) population is 82 percent black and 18 percent white.


Ward 7


1. The PEPCO Benning Road power plant wastewater permit holder discharges 32 milligrams per liter (oil, grease, & zinc) and the census tract (96.2) population is 99 percent black and less than one percent white.


Ward 8


1. The Blue Plains Sewage Treatment Plant wastewater permit holder discharges 912 milligrams per liter (numerous items) and the census tract (73.8) population is 34 percent black and 57 percent white.


Additional Sites


The Commonwealth of Virginia and EPA Region 3 sites information is unavailable.




            Urban water runoff is poison.  This poison comes from Washington, D.C.’s large tracts of rooftops, asphalt, concrete, roads, streets, alleys, highways, driveways, buildings, parking lots, sidewalks, sediments, nutrient fertilizers, bacteria, oil and grease, heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and chlorides and is deposited into the surrounding bodies of water.  This poison is washed into the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers every time it rains. 


            Although all surface waters in the District are affected by poison runoff to some extent, toxic levels directly linked to runoff are much higher in the Anacostia River than in the Potomac River or Rock Creek.  According to a January 1993 study by the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) in the Potomac Basin Reporter, the sediments of specific areas of the tidal Anacostia River contain substantially higher concentrations of lead, cadmium, zinc, PCBs, chlordanes, hydrocarbons, and other contaminants than the Potomac River, the Washington Ship Channel, and the Tidal Basin.15 We believe Wards 6,7 and 8 experience the most environmental damage from poison runoff.  These wards are predominantly African American.


            Recent EPA studies show that heavily polluted surface waters are polluted largely or entirely by factory and sewage discharges and by toxic runoff.16 Poison runoff from the water bodies of the District of Columbia rivals factories and sewage treatment plants as a source of pollution.17 The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that 400,000 pounds of zinc, 94,100 pounds of copper, and 22,100 pounds of lead were carried into local streams and rivers of Washington, D.C. by runoff in 1989.  According to the NRDC study, this was three times the amount of zinc, and almost as much copper and lead as was discharged by all Virginia and Maryland factories in 1987. 


            Heavy metals found in runoff such as lead, cadmium, copper, and zinc, directly affect the health of aquatic life and can contaminate drinking water supplies and impact human health.  Human health concerns are high in areas of subsistence fishing, primarily in the Northeast and Southeast sections of the District.  Fatty tissue of fish eaten by anglers can contain harmful heavy metals and toxics.  Due to the topography of D.C., run-off travels along a North to South path, collecting in the Southern portion of the city’s sewer system, Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. 


            Possible runoff from one toxic site in Ward 8, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, came from another toxic site in Ward 7, the Benning Road Garbage Incinerator.  In the past, residents and workers close to the ash dumping facility near St. Elizabeth's Hospital complained of truck traffic, unprotected dump sites, and the leaching of ash residue onto streets and into the Anacostia.


            Watts Branch and Lower Beaverdam Creek (in Ward 7) are two of the most polluted tributaries to the Anacostia River.  Poison runoff is directly deposited into the Anacostia River from these sources.




            Ward 3, which is 88 percent white, does not contain combined sewer overflow pipes. Combined sewers serve about 35 percent of the District. 


            Combined sewers, which join sewer pipes (toilets, tubs and sinks) with rainwater drains, frequently overflow into the Anacostia River, Potomac River, and Rock Creek.  There are approximately 60 combined sewer drains ending on major waterways in the city.  Sixty percent of all combined sewer drains enter the Anacostia River, according to a report by NWF entitled Combined Sewer Overflow.18 These outfall are in the blackest sections of the city.


            The sewer map of Washington, D.C. shows that sewer lines divert runoff from a Northwest direction towards the Southeast.  There are approximately 60 overflows per year at discharge points.  Almost any amount of rain will result in an overflow.  Sources that feed into the system are mainly light commercial (e.g., hospitals and restaurants).19  When an overflow occurs, not only do the substances carried by the water run-off from impervious surfaces enter waterways, but so do the substances intended to reach the sewage treatment facility.


            Some problems associated with sewer overflow include elevated levels of harmful bacteria. Annually, about 70,000 pounds of nitrogen, 20,000 pounds of phosphorus, 3 million pounds of total suspended solids, and 6 million pounds of BOD are discharged from sewer overflows in District waters.20


            Combined sewer overflows cause the District's waters to be unsafe for swimming and drinking.  Fish obtained from District waterways are not safe to eat.  A District report to the U.S. EPA on the quality of its waters determined that sewer overflows are the main source of bacterial pollution.  Rain regularly causes violations of the official water-contact recreation standards for fecal coliform bacteria (bacteria typically associated with sewage), and therefore swimming has been prohibited (currently not advised in the Potomac due to danger of drowning) in the District's rivers since 1971.21


            In addition to loss of recreational use due to sewer overflow, authorities strongly advise against the consumption of all fish.  Yet, subsistence anglers continue to consume contaminated fish.  Many people fish along the Anacostia River in Anacostia Park in Wards 6, 7, & 8.  The District government periodically issues fish advisories due to high contamination levels in the Anacostia River.


            Toxic pollutants pose serious threats to people consuming fish, swimming or otherwise exposing themselves to the Anacostia River.  Specifically, exposure to toxic pollutants can cause immediate short-term human health effects such as respiratory irritation, and permanent health problems such as cancer, heart failure, kidney and liver damage, and anemia.  Some of these impacts may only appear after long-term exposure to the harmful substances.22


            Like environmental concerns related to urban runoff, environmental problems associated with sewer overflow are far worse in the Anacostia River than the Potomac or Rock Creek.  In the Anacostia, levels of dissolved oxygen and bacteria are constantly in violation of established limits, partly because a majority of sewer overflows occur in the Anacostia.  Compounding the problem, the Anacostia River has a relatively slow current and occupies a wide channel, enabling contaminant discharges from sewer overflows to remain in certain spots and have a long-lasting effect.  American Rivers listed the Anacostia River as the fourth most endangered river in the United States in 1993.


            The Potomac River has been added to the endangered list by American Rivers and is characterized by both oxygen deficits and high concentrations of algae, although upgrades in runoff and sewer overflow prevention technologies have resulted in improvements.  Rock Creek has adequate dissolved oxygen; however, elevated coliform counts and unsightly debris remain a problem.




            Although public drinking water is highly regulated (Safe Drinking Water Act), environmental hazards from current technology continue to exist.  For example, chlorine, though good for killing bacteria, is not necessarily good for human beings in high concentrations.  Moreover, trihalamenthanes, formed through the interaction of Chlorine and suspended solids in the water, are potentially carcinogenic.


     The Dalecarlia water treatment plant, the city's main treatment facility, is located in Ward 3.  Because they are located close to the treatment facility, this portion of the city benefits from getting its water before it has traveled through hundreds of miles of pipes, which are sometimes over one hundred years old. By the time water has circulated through 1,300 of miles of pipe in reaching Wards 6, 7, and 8, it has greater potential for accumulating numerous pollutants.


            In past years, the U.S. EPA threatened to fine the District for exceeding limits on fecal coliform, a bacteria found in human and animal waste, in the drinking water.  In some instances, residents in Ward 7 were singled out and instructed to boil their water.  Problems were also found with general bacteria contamination in the system.  The Dalecarlia water treatment plant is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, which sells water to the District.  Lead service lines are a serious problem in Washington, D.C.




            An analysis of census tract data in Washington, D.C. by Anderson and Crocker (1971) to ascertain the economic effects of both sulfur oxides and suspended particulates found that housing values declined significantly with both increasing pollution levels and increasing concentrations of minorities.  The highest assessed real estate values in the city are in Ward 3 (88% white), with 97 percent of its single-family houses assessed at $200,000 or more in July 1990.  The taxable acreage of Ward 3 is primarily residential; this ward has no industrial acreage and its commercial development is concentrated along Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues.  Tax assessments indicate that the majority of single-family houses in Ward 7 (97% black) are assessed at between $50,000 and $100,000.  Ward 7 is also the location of the Benning Road incinerator and electric power plant.  Interestingly, a new housing development, Parkside Town homes, was built in the 1990s within 100 yards of the incinerator and power plant.


            The majority of public housing is located in Wards 2, 7, and 8.  These wards have some of the city’s most toxic waste sites.  Moreover, few whites live in public housing in the District and very few public housing units exist in Ward 3.  The one public housing facility in Ward 3 is a high-rise, senior citizens building.  The D.C. Department of Public and Assisted Housing and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development manage approximately 11,558 public housing units.


  The public housing properties by ward include:


                        (Number of Units)

                        (S) Senior Property

                        (F) Family Property

                        (Family / Elderly)


Ward 1: 10 percent (1,149 units),


            Columbia Road (23) (F)

            Frontiers (15) (F)

            Garfield Terrace (279) (51/228)

            Harvard Towers (193) (S)

            Kelly Miller Dwellings(169)(F)

            LeDroit Apartments (124) (18/106)

            Ontario Road (13) (F)

            Park Morton (174) (F)

            Scattered Sites (159) (F)


 Ward 2, 27 percent (3,152 units),


            Arthur Capper Family (375)

            Arthur Capper Senior (297)

            Carroll Apts (60)

            Carrollsburg Towers (314) (E)

            Claridge Towers (343) (E)

            Frontiers (39) (F)

            Greenleaf Addition (32) (F)

            Greenleaf Extension (4) (F)

            Greenleaf Gardens (457) (242/215)

            Horizon House (105) (S)

            James Apts (141) (S)

            James Creek (239) (F)

            Judiciary House (271) (S)

            Lincoln Road (20) (F)

            Scattered Sites (35) (F)

            Sibley Plaza (102)(F) (144)(S)

            Syphax (174) (F)


 Ward 3: 1 percent (160 units),


            Regency House (160) (S)


 Ward 4: less than 1 percent (39 units),


            Colorado Apts (21) (S)

            Scattered Sites (18) (F)


 Ward 5: 8 percent (975 units),


            Edgewood Terrace (334) (42/292)

            Fort Lincoln (120) (S)

            Langston Terrace (274) (194/80)

            Langston Addition (34) (F)

            Montana Terrace (155) (F)

            Scattered Sites (33) (F)

            Western Mews (25) (F)


 Ward 6: 10 percent (1099 units),


            Kentucky Courts (163) (45/118)

            Potomac Gardens (352) (208/144)

            *Ellen Wilson (134) (F)

            Hopkins Apts (158)

            Wylie Courts (5) (F)

            Scattered Sites (53) (F)

            Woodland Terace (234) (F)


 Ward 7: 23 percent ( 2663 units), and


            Benning Terrace (274) (F)

            Capitol View Plaza (320) (92/228)

            East Capitol (577) (F)

            Eastgate (230) (F)

            Fort Dupont (314) (F)

            Fort Dupont Addition (87) (F)

            Lincoln Heights (440) (F)

            Richardson Dwellings (190) (F)

            Stoddert Terrace (200) F)

            Scattered Sites (11) F)

            Villager (20) (F)





 Ward 8: 20 percent (2,321 units).


            Barry Farm Dwellings (564) (432/122)

            Highland Addition (246) (F)

            Highland Dwellings (204) (F)

            Frederick Douglass (302) (F)

            Knox Hill (122) (S)

            Scattered Sites (8) (F)

            *Sheridan Terrace (183) (F)

            Stanton Dwellings (349) (F)

            Elvans Road Dwellings (20) (F)

            Valley Green (312) (F)

            Wade Apartments (12) (F)


Note: Department of Public and Assisted Housing, 1990 List.  * Some sites may be closed or undergoing renovation.




A List of D.C. Neighborhoods (UDC Environmental Science Dept., 1996).  The Description of Neighborhoods following this list is from a separate source and does not include many of these communities. 


1. Anacostia

2. Adams-Morgan

3. American University Park

4. Barnaby Terrace

5. Brentwood

6. Brightwood

7. Burleith

8. Benning

9. Brookland

10. Barnaby Woods

11. Brightwood Park

12. Benning Heights

13. Barry Farm

14. Bellevue

15. Burrville

16. Buena Vista

17. Bloomingdale

18. Buzzard Point

19. Capitol View

20. Congress Heights

21. Congress Park

22. Cleveland Park

23. Colonial Village

24. Columbia Heights

25. Capital Hill

26. Chinatown

27. Crestwood

28. Deanewood

29. Douglass Dwellings

30. DC Village

31. Dupont Circle

32. Eckington

33. Edgewood

34. Eastland Gardens

35. Fairfax Village

36. Foxhall Village

37. Friendship Heights

38. Fort Lincoln

39. Foggy Bottom

40. Georgetown

41. Garfield Heights

42. Good Hope

43. Glover Park

44. Greenway

45. Hawthorne

46. Hillcrest

47. Ivy City

48. Junior Village

49. Kalaroma

50. Knox Hill Dwellings

51. Kent

52. Kingman Park

53. Kenilworth

54. LaDroit Park

55. Lamond-Riggs


59. Potomac Heights

60. Penn Branch

61. River Terrace

62. Randle Highlands

63. Spring Valley

64. Shepherd Park

65. St. Elizabeth’s

66. Shipley Terrace

67. Tenleytown

68. Trinidad

69. Twining

70. Terra Cotta

71. Tiber Island

72. Varnum

73. Washington Highlands

74. Wesley Heights

75. Woodley Park

76. Woodridge



Descriptions of Selected D.C. Neighborhoods23


Beekman Place (Ward 1), which sits near 16th and Belmont streets NW is now a village unto itself.  The closest Metro stop is about four blocks away at 13th and U streets NW.  There are two Safeway supermarkets within walking distance.  Restaurants and nightclubs are within walking distance in Dupont Circle, Adams-Morgan and along U Street.  The price of units range from $140,000 to $180,000.  16th Street Heights  Ward 4


Columbia Heights (Ward 1) is defined by 16th Street, Harvard Street to the south and Spring Road to the north. Residents consider the community’s limits to expand to areas as far south as Florida Avenue and as far east as Georgia Avenue.  Columbia Heights was hit very hard by the riots following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The “Shotgun Stalker,” who terrorized Columbia Heights and neighboring Mount Pleasant killed four people in 1993 and hurt the reputation of the neighborhood.  Of course, the opening of the U Street-Cardozo Metro stop will revitalize the area. Home prices range from $100,000 to the mid-$200,000s.


Kalorama Triangle (Ward 1) is bounded by Connecticut Avenue, Calvert Street and Columbia Road.  The row houses cost about $450,000 to $600,000.    The City tried to deter suicides by putting up eight-foot metal spiked barriers on the Duke Ellington Bridge along Calvert Street.  The residents argued that the barriers were an ugly remedy that wouldn’t stop determined jumpers.


LeDroit Park (Ward 1), located south of Howard University, LeDroit Park extends from Florida Avenue on the south, Elm Street on the north, Second Street on the east and Bohrer Street on the west.  Rev. Jesse L. Jackson bought and restored a 1,860 square foot house on T Street in LeDroit Park.  Neighborhood housing prices range from $85,000 to $130,000, though some of the larger homes have sold for up to $220,000. 


Mount Pleasant (Ward 1) is bounded on the north by Rock Creek Park, on the south by Harvard Street, on the west by Adams Mill Road and on the east by 16th Street, NW. Long considered the seat of the District’s Latino community, Mount Pleasant was the subject of intense media coverage in May 1991, when a resident was shot a D.C. police officer during an arrest.  Three days of looting and protests followed.  The city’s relationship with the Latino community was severely strained.  Attention was refocused on the community two years later even the so-called “shotgun stalker” terrorized Mount Pleasant.  Home prices range in the mid-two hundreds (detached homes).


Sheridan-Kalorama (Ward 1) is bounded by Rock Creek Park and Massachusetts, Florida and Connecticut avenues.  Homes range from $500,000 to several million dollars.  One house near the “Spanish Steps” at 22nd and S streets  was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  Most families send their children to private schools.  In a neighborhood with an average income of $102,800, private schools are easily afforded.


U Street (Ward 1).  The U Street corridor between 12th and 16th streets NW is undergoing a cultural revolution.  The Cardozo-Shaw Neighborhood Association represents the 25,000 residents who live within a half-mile radius of the intersection of U Street and 14th Street.  In its heyday, U Street was considered the gateway to the best of Washington’s black community.  In the segregated Washington of the 1920s, it was know as “the colored man’s Connecticut Avenue”--home to hundreds of nightclubs and businesses designed by black architects and paid for by black financiers.  Entertainers such as Nat King Cole and Redd Foxx played the clubs along U Street frequently.  Duke Ellington grew up in the neighborhood, and Pearl Bailey got her first job there.   The largest and grandest theater for blacks, the Lincoln Theater, made its home in the community.  In 1968 the torching and looting following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. left the community for dead.  The opening of the Franklin D. Reeves Municipal Center in 1986, the reopening of the Lincoln Theater and the completion of the Metro stop are helping to restore U Streets glorious past.  According to the 1990 census, 56 percent of the neighborhood’s  25,000 residents are black, with the remainder being white and Hispanic.  According to the census the median home price was $177,000 in 1990.  The median rent is $469 a month.


Columbia Heights (Ward 1) is defined by 16th Street, Harvard Street to the South and Spring Road to the north.  It was hit hard by the riots following the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Shotgun Stalker killed four people in 1993 and hurt the reputation of the neighborhood.  The opening of the U Street-Cardozo Metro stop will revitalize the area.  Home prices range from $100,000 to the mid-$200,000s.


Blagden Alley (Ward 2) lies on the northeast edge of downtown Washington just east of Logan Circle, in an area that includes Ninth and 11th streets NW between Rhode Island and Massachusetts Avenue and M Street.  The neighborhood of about 5,000 people includes longtime black residents, professionals in their twenties, thirties and forties and many Latino blue-collar workers.  The neighborhood is reflected on the playground of Shaw Junior High School at 10th and Rhode Island, NW.  Condominiums range in price from $37,000 to $100,000. Single-family homes, mostly row houses, range from about $100,000 to $400,000.  Row houses requiring renovation are available for between $70,000 and $150,000.  Rents for efficiencies start around $500 a month, one-bedroom apartments are about $650 and two-bedroom apartments go for about $1,000.


Burleith (Ward 2), sandwiched between Georgetown and Glover Park, is made up of 16 blocks and about 1,300 residents.  The area’s borders are roughly formed by 35th Street to the east, 39th Street to the west, Whitehaven Parkway to the north and Reservoir Road to the south.  Home prices range from $200,000 to  $350,000.  Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom house range from $1,500 to  $1,900.  On average, approximately 1,600 Georgetown University undergraduates live off campus, with about 1,300 residing in either Burleith or Georgetown.  Georgetown University students are now required to live on campus for their first two years as undergraduates, instead of one year.


Cloisters (Ward 2) is positioned between Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School and Georgetown University.  The community’s 144 red-brick town houses’ northern and eastern borders are formed by Reservoir Road and 35th Street.  Home prices range from $410,000 to $625,000.  The Cloisters is within walking distance of Georgetown’s top restaurants and shops.   (This Cloisters should not be confused with the multifamily complex near Catholic Univesity).


Dupont Circle (Ward 2) extends from O Street NW to Florida Avenue, NW and is bounded by Rock Creek Park on the west and 15th Street NW on the east.  The median price of houses now on the market is $350,000.   Two-bedroom condominiums sell for about $185,000 while one-bedroom condos sell for about $100,000.  The neighborhood has a large gay population.  Dupont Circle has three commercial corridors--Connecticut Avenue, 17th Street and P Street--filled with restaurants, bookstores, bars and specialty shops.


Gangplank Marina (Ward 2) includes three blocks of boats of all sorts along the Washington Channel.  Stretching from a docked Spirit of Washington tour boat to the Capital Yacht Club, the marina is home to 238 boats, 115 of which function as year-round residences.  The marina is a mix of people of no particular economic class or occupation.  Airline pilots, plumbers, laborers and actors all pay slip fees based on the size of their yacht, houseboat, trawler, or sailboat.  The monthly fee ranges from $123 for a 20 foot boat to $417 for a 50-foot boat.


Washington Harbour, Georgetown, Waterfront Renaissance (Ward 2) includes glitzy offices, restaurants and luxurious condominiums along the Georgetown waterfront that sell for as much as $446 a square foot--twice the amount charged at the Watergate Complex--and has a large apartment listed for sale for slightly more than $5 million.  Located at the southern end of Wisconsin Avenue at the Potomac River, the six-acre site was supposed to end the years of unattractive Georgetown waterfront, long home to foul-smelling water, a cement plant, other industry and parking lots.  Several fountains and a half-dozen lifelike sculptures by artist J. Seward Johnson, Jr. vary the landscape.  The big attraction of Washington Harbour is the Potomac River and on Friday nights during summer months, dozens of boats dock at or near the boardwalk.  Residents of Washington Harbour have to endure frequent jet noise overhead from planes landing or taking off from National Airport.


Logan Circle (Ward 2) is a Northwest urban village framed roughly by Massachusetts Avenue to the south, S Street to the north and 15th and Ninth streets on each side.  Racially and economically complex, there are young, old, homosexual, heterosexual, doctors, lawyers, and a little bit of everything.  The Logan Circle Community Association has about 300 residents.  Renovated and restored houses cost an average of $270,000, although prices on streets such as Vermont Avenue can reach $500,000.  Condominiums cost an average of $62,575.  Monthly rents for efficiency apartments range from $560 to $595.


Pennsylvania Quarter (Ward 2) is a small area between Sixth and Ninth streets, NW and Pennsylvania Avenue and H Street.  Since 1990 three mix-use buildings--Market Square, the Pennsylvania and the Lansburgh--have opened.  In mixed-use buildings, retailers, offices and residents all occupy space in the same structure.  The Lansburgh is a rental building and prices range $1,099 a month for a one-bedroom unit to $1,984 a month for a two bedroom.  Purchase prices at Market Square start$100,000 for a studio, $139,000 for a one-bedroom unit, and $339,000 for a two-bedroom.  The Pennsylvania is slightly less expensive.  It typically costs another $120 to 4140 a month for an underground parking spot.  Restaurants such as Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Cafe have brought attention to the area.  This community is also close to the MCI Center sports arena. 


Foggy Bottom (Ward 2) is between the Potomac River and the White House, bordering on Georgetown and the Mall.  The area’s boundaries extend from Constitution Avenue on the south, the Potomac River and Rock Creek Park on the west and 17 Street on the east to Pennsylvania Avenue on the north.  Originally, homes were built for settlers working in the local gas works, glass factory and brewery.  The factories were demolished in the 1950s.  The average home price is $220,000.  Condominium prices range from $32,000 for an efficiency at the Claridge to a $595,000 apartment at the Watergate.  The population in the community includes about 10,000 residents.  While student (George Washington University) behavior is sometimes a problem, the larger issue is development and construction by the university, local businesses and the city.  The community also has a convenient Metro stop.


River Park (Ward 2) is bounded by N Street SW to the north, O Street to the south, Fourth Street to the west and Delaware Avenue to the east.  River Park has about 1,000 residents; most of them from 30 to 60 years old living in the 518 units, including 134 town houses and twin high rises with 384 apartment units, all part of the overall cooperative.  The efficiency apartment units range from $20,000 to $30,000, while town homes range from $60,000 to $90,000.


American University Park (Ward 3) is bounded by Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Western avenues.  It includes 2,700 homes in Northwest Washington.  Average home prices are $291,713.  Relations between AU Park and American University have been strained in the past.


Cleveland Park (Ward 3), with about 4,600 residents, is roughly bounded by Wisconsin and Connecticut avenues to the west and east, Rodman and Tilden streets to the north, and Woodley and Klingle roads to the south.  The average price of houses in the area is $502,191.


Glover Park (Ward 3) is bounded by Wisconsin Avenue on the east, Glover-Archbold Park on the west, Whitehaven Park on the south and Fulton Street on the north.  The community of about 8,300 residents is home to a mixture of young professionals, young families, college students and longtime homeowners. Glover Park residents were among those who actively opposed the District government’s proposal to place a 50-bed homeless shelter for men at the Guy Mason Recreation Center just east of Wisconsin Avenue.  They also organized to oppose a proposed 56,000-watt, $80 million cogenerator at nearby Georgetown University. The average home price is in the $230,000 to $240,000 range.  Condominium units range from about $80,000 to about $150,000.  The average price for monthly house rentals is $1,400 to $1,700.  One-bedroom apartments generally rent for $750, unless they are covered by rent control.


McLean Gardens (Ward 3), located four blocks north of the Washington Cathedral, this complex includes 100 families and the average price of condos is $160,000.  The newer development is for renters only and includes a seven-story luxury apartment building at Wisconsin and Idaho avenues, known as the Towers.  Rents in the Tower range from $900 for a one-bedroom unit to more than $1,500 for a two-bedroom apartment.


Foxhall Village (Ward 3) is between Foxhall and Reservoir roads and 44th Street, NW, next to Glover Archbold Park.  Henry Foxall built a cannon factory in 1799 in what is now Glover Archbold Park.  Foxhall Village homes range in price from $200,00 to $400,000.


Palisades (Ward 3) has more than 5,000 residents.  The average sale price for a Palisades home is $294,200.  Some larger homes near Battery Park sell for $600,000 to $1 million.  One downside of living in the Palisades is the airplane noise from National Airport.  The lower neighborhood, between MacArthur Boulevard and the Potomac River, is mostly bungalows and small brick houses.  Uphill from MacArthur Boulevard, in the triangle bounded by Loughboro Road, MacArthur Boulevard and Batter Kemble Park, there are massive brick colonials.  


Tenleytown  (Ward 3) houses in Tenleytown’s 20016 Zip code are priced from $250,000 to $60,000.  In contrast, most of the Tenleytown houses in the 20017 Zip code were priced from $75,000 to $125,000.


Woodley Park (Ward 3) is within walking distance of attractions near Dupont Circle and in Adams-Morgan.  Metro’s Red Line runs through the neighborhood, and the National Zoo is nearby.  Four embassies call Woodley Park home.  The neighborhood is bound by Calvert Street on the south, Klingle Road on the north, Cleveland Avenue and 34th Street on the west, and Rock Creek Park on the east.  The 1990 census listed the population at 6,950 residents.  The main commercial district along Connecticut Avenue greets tourist and residents leaving the Woodley Park-Zoo Metro stop.  The average list price for houses on the market in 1996 is $472,783.   The condominiums are less expensive, with an average price of $106,737.


Wesley Heights (Ward 3), with about 300 homes, is bounded by Nebraska Avenue on the north, New Mexico Avenue to the east, Edmonds Street on the south and 49th Street to the west.  It is bounded on three sides by parks--Glover Archbold, Wesley Heights and Battery Kemble.  American University hovers along the northern limits of the neighborhood.  The median price of houses on the market is $1,283,000.


16th Street Heights’ (Ward 4) is along the eastern boundary of Rock Creek Park. It sometimes has been designated as the area between Arkansas Avenue and Colorado Avenue.  There are 432 houses in the community and the estimated population is 1,000.  Parts of the 16th Street Heights area are included in neighborhoods such as Petworth, Gold Coast, Crestwood and Shepherd Park.   Home prices range from $120,000 to $600,000, with an average price of $220,000. 


Crestwood (Ward 4), Bounded by Colorado Avenue to the north, 16th Street to the east, Randolph Street to the south and Rock Creek Park on the west side. 

Today homes in Crestwood sell for $200,000 to $750,000.  Most parents in Crestwood do not send their children to the neighborhood public schools, which include West Elementary and Roosevelt High School.  Instead, most choose private schools or public schools west of Rock Creek Park.


Petworth (Ward 4) is bounded roughly by Spring Road and Rock Creek Church Rod to the south and east, 16th Street and Colorado Avenue to the west and northwest and Ingraham Street to the north.  The houses range in value from $80,000 to as much as $180,000.


Shepherd Park’s (Ward 4) 5,000 residents are bounded by 16th Street, Georgia Avenue, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Washington-Maryland border.  Homes sell for $220,000 to $300,000.  The area’s only commercial strip, which stretches along Georgia Avenue from Walter Reed Hospital to Eastern Avenue experienced a sharp decline in the quality of its businesses after the 1968 riots sparked by the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The median income is more than $50,000. 


Fort Lincoln (Ward 5) was planned around a cultural center, elementary school and recreation area. The 550 condominiums, 666 senior citizen apartments and 157 garden apartments are located near rolling hills just beyond Bladensburg Road and South Dakota Avenue NE, bordering on Prince George’s County.  Fort Lincoln was the idea of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who wanted a model town to showcase his “Great Society” programs, a planned community that would be racially and economically integrated.  He wanted the “New Town in Town” to inspire other such projects with the hope they would collectively revitalize the nation’s urban centers.  The community never attained Johnson’s goal of having whites comprise 25 percent of the population, the figure closely matching the racial makeup of the city at the time.  Now less than 5 percent of Fort Lincoln’s residents are white. The land was originally the site of forts built to protect the city during the Civil War.  A two-bedroom condominium would sell for about $100,000 and the apartment rents range from $700 to $1,000 a month.  The senior citizen housing is subsidized, so there is no set rate in the four high-rise buildings.


Arboretum (Ward 5) is home to one of the District’s smallest and most distinctive communities.  On the west lies Bladensburg, one of the oldest arteries in the city, and on the north is New York Avenue (Route 50), a gateway to Washington.  The Carver Terrace and Langston Dwellings housing projects are south of the National Arboretum.  The Arboretum neighborhood has 1,453 residents living in 586 housing units, according to the 1990 census.  The average home price ranges from $100,000 to $150,000.  Apartments rent for $595 a month to $675 for a two-bedroom unit.  Houses along R and 24th streets are the most sought after because they border the National Arboretum. 


Brookland (Ward 5) is bounded by Taylor Street, 18th Street, Rhode Island Avenue and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks.  Home prices range from $65,000 for a home that needs major renovation work to $285,000.


Barney Circle (Ward 6) is located at the west bank of the Sousa Bridge on the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington.  House prices range from $95,000 to about $140,000.  John Capozzi, a consultant and political activist, said he bought his three-bedroom house for $110,000 in 1988.


Capitol Hill (Ward 6) has approximately 32,500 people and is bounded by North and South Capitol streets on the west, 15th Street on the east, H Street on the north and by the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, recently renamed the Eisenhower Freeway, to the south.  Slightly more than half of the area’s residents are non-Hispanic whites and 47 percent are black, with Hispanics and Asian Americans making up the remainder, according to the 1990 census.  Hill bars and restaurants, like the Tune Inn, tend to be filled with local folks, especially after the happy-hour crowds of congressional staffers go home.  Most town houses sell for $150,000 to  $350,000.  While group houses generally cost about $400 a person per month, one-bedroom units often go for $550 to $900, and a two-bedroom town house might lease for $1,000 to $1,200 in the areas close to the Capitol.  In 1991, an average of four people a day were robbed in the police district that includes Capitol Hill, according to police statistics.


Eastern Market (Ward 6) flea market has 100 vendors who call Eastern Market home every weekend.  The century-old market on Capitol Hill is a gathering place for the community.  Bounded by Fourth Street on the west, 12th Street on the east, Independence Avenue on the north and the Southeast-Southwest Freeway on the south, the neighborhood is home to 5,000 people--blacks, whites Hispanics and Asians.  Homes in the neighborhood sell for $250,000 to $300,000.  Market Five Gallery is located on the northern of the market.  Money raised from the flea market on Market Row is split between the nonprofit art gallery and Hine Junior High School, another community landmark. 


Kingman Park (Ward 6) stretches from 15th Street to Oklahoma Avenue and from C Street to Maryland Avenue.  The community is home to the D.C. Armory, RFK Stadium, Swirl Concentrator, D.C. Jail and D.C. General Hospital.  The East Capitol Street and Benning Road, NE commuter corridors also flank the community. The Kingman Park Civic Association represents the community’s 10,000 residents.  Langston Golf Course, a federally owned course at 26th Street and Benning Road, NE was built in 1934 by the National Park Service to provide blacks a place to play golf at a time when the city was segregated.   The two and three bedroom row houses, most of which were built in 1928, generally sell for $80,000 to $90,000.


Stanton Park (Ward 6), lodged between East Capitol Street and H, Second and 10th streets, NE, is one of the segments of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  It lies along the eastern side of Union Station. House in the neighborhood generally cost from $150,000 to $250,000. They are also pricier $300,000 to $400,000 homes  and a few dilapidated or unrestored homes costing $85,000.  Stanton Park’s 5,000 residents have a marked racial diversity, one of the hallmarks of the community that is cherished by its residents.  Affordable rental units ranging from $550 to $1,500 a month has attracted numerous new residents.  Many renters in the area are students at Georgetown University Law Center or young staffers working in Congress.


Deanwood (Ward 7) has approximately 8,500 residents and is located in the northeastern corner of the District, bounded by Eastern, Division, Nannie Helen Burroughs and Kenilworth avenues.  Homes in Deanwood cost about $75,000. 


Fairfax Village (Ward 7) is a rolling, green, tree-filled 54 acre island just off one of Anacostia’s busiest arteries, Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  The condominium community is made of 660 apartments and 166 town houses, divided into nine clusters.  Prices range from about $60,000 for apartments to about $85,000 for town houses.  The complex’s residents are about 95 percent black and they have a range of incomes and vocations, including cab drivers, teachers, lawyers, police officers and real estate professionals.          


Parkside (Ward 7) town houses and condos range in price from $99,000 to $140,000.  The income requirements for buyers is at least $26,000 to  $28,000 annually for two-bedroom homes; $33,000 to $35,000 for three-bedroom units; and $39,000 to $41,000 for four bedroom homes.  Residents remember when Mayfair Mansions and Paradise Manor, two nearby housing complexes, were home to a couple of the city’s largest drug markets.  Residents hired the Nation of Islam to patrol their streets, which resulted in a significant reduction in drug dealing.  Since then, the complex has been renovated and a spirit of community pride has returned. 


Penn-Branch, Hillcrest (Ward 7) is bounded on the north by Pennsylvania Avenue SE, on the east by Southern Avenue, on the west by 25th Street SE and the south by Naylor Road and 25th Street SE.  The neighborhood of Penn-Branch is bound on the south by Pennsylvania Avenue SE, on the west by Branch Avenue, on the north by Pope and Nash streets and on the east by Texas Avenue.  The cost of houses in the neighborhoods runs from about $150,000 to more than $300,000. 


River Terrace (Ward 7) is bounded by Benning Road, Route 295, East Capitol Street and the Anacostia River.  There are 18 square blocks of two-story brick row houses, some facing the river, with a playground, basketball court and gazebo along the shore.  Entering on Anacostia Avenue, with the river to the right and a school on the left, this cul-de-sac offers a waterfront view.  Homes in River Terrace sell in the low-to-mid $80,000.  


Washington Highlands (Ward 8) is home to 15,000 people in Southeast Washington.  Washington Highlands is bounded by Greater Southeast Hospital on the north, Southern Avenue on the east, Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue on the west and Fourth Street SE on the south. On some of the neighborhood’s streets, there is an annual violent crime rate of 55 incidents for every 1,000 residents. Depending on the block, 34 percent to 62 percent of the residents live below the poverty level, which is $12,674 in annual household income for a family of four.  Many of the area’s childbirths are to single mothers.  Only 12.9 percent of homes are owner-occupied.  The median home price is $73,070.  Oxon Run Creek runs through this neighborhood.  




            Excerpts from Dick Gregory's Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin' with Mother Nature (edited and reprinted with permission from the author).  


     Poor folks take their food stamps or their meager earnings to the supermarket.  They buy canned foods, frozen foods, TV dinners, white bread, pastries and all other kinds of commercially processed junk.  Mothers and fathers in poor communities work so hard to earn money to feed their families, and they have such a difficult time making ends meet.  The real tragedy is that they do not realize it is cheaper to feed those families correctly than it is to purchase the junk diet.


     Diet is the food that is consumed.  But nutrition is the food that is consumed that the cells and tissues of the body can utilize. We all know most folks determine the items in their diet by taste alone--we eat something because it tastes good.  But the real reasons why we eat should be: to gain new cells and rebuild the various body tissues; to get starch to heat our bodies, the necessary oil to lubricate the machinery of our bodies, and fibrous matter to keep our tubing clean; and to make our tissues pliable to provide a means of circulation for our blood corpuscles.  In short, to keep our body machine in good working order.


     A hundred or even fifty years ago, your grandparents or parents had an easier time relating to Mother Nature.  Their water was pure and unpolluted.  When they inhaled deeply, they were not taking in carbon monoxide fumes.  Their food was grown organically, often in their own gardens.  The soil was well manured and the fruits and vegetables had no residues of poisonous sprays, waxed and chemical treatments.  Candies, soft drinks and canned foods were luxuries for the rich and processed foods were all but unknown.  But today...our depleted soil is hyped up with chemical fertilizers; many meat and dairy products are permeated with preservatives, hormones, and drugs and chemicals.


The Dick Gregory Shopping List


     Walk on by the frozen food counter.  Walk on by the canned foods also.  They have been heated and treated, thus destroying all of the most important life-giving elements.  Anything that has been pasteurized must be bypassed.  The pasteurizing process destroys the enzymes, which in turn renders the "food" useless to the machine.  Continue on, bypassing the breakfast food shelf.  Breakfast cereals are completely devitalized.  You will arrive eventually at the fruit and vegetable counter, the nut and seed rack.  Among these nuts, fruits etc. are everything necessary for your diet, with the single exception of pure water.


     The strongest animals in the jungle are not meat-eaters.  They are vegetarians and fruitarians.  They don't need meat to make them strong.  What are the strongest animals in the jungle?  The lion--the "king of the jungle"? NO.  One of the sneakiest and most brutal, maybe, but certainly not the strongest.  The tiger? No. The giant of the jungle, of course is the elephant.  And what does the elephant eat?  Fruit, leaves and young branches. The elephant is a vegetarian.  Then there's the hippopotamus, another jungle giant.  The hippo eats grass and herbage.  And the rhinoceros, what does the rhinoceros eat? Leaves, twigs and general herbage and vegetation. No meat!


     Examining the jungle kingdom closer, we find that even meat-eaters don't like to eat other meat-eaters.  The lion has a preference for zebra and antelope, both herbivorous animals.  The tiger loves to get its teeth into a good buffalo steak, and the buffalo prefers to munch on grass.  Human beings who eat meat tend to follow the same pattern.  They make pets out of the carnivores and eat the non-meat-eating animals, cows, pigs and chickens.  Although the pig is classed as an omnivore physiologically, in a natural state pigs eat grass, roots and fallen fruits.


     The nutritional science of properly combining foods becomes quite complex.  First of all, some foods are acid-forming and some foods are acid-binding, or alkaline.  The latter are sometimes called base-forming foods.  The acid-binding foods should always be predominant in the diet, at about a four-to-one ratio.  Thus, vegetables and fruits, including tropical and semitropical fruits, should constitute the major part of the diet since they are acid-binding or alkaline foods.  It may sound strange to some people who think fruits are acid-forming because of their taste.  Remember we are not talking about taste but rather about the effect within the body.  Fruits are acid-binding in their effect.  Acidity is not caused by acid fruits as is commonly thought.  I personally do not recommend eating fruits and vegetables together.  My own recommendation is that you should wait at least a half hour, preferably longer, between fruit and vegetable consumption.  To eat [fruit] with vegetables is to have the [fruit] waiting in the stomach while the longer digestive process for the vegetables is completed.


The Hot Meal


     It is hard to say how the practice of cooking food got started.  Many experts feel that cooking had its origins in the desire to preserve food.  Vegetables are boiled, fruits are fried and baked, nuts are roasted and salted; anything it seems, to "kill" Mother Nature's fresh, living raw foods.  But in Mother Nature's plan nothing should be cooked that can be eaten raw, in its natural state.


     The greatest argument against cooking is that heating any food above the temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit destroys the enzymes.  In very simple terms, we might say that enzymes are the "sparks of life."  Every living thing on the face of the earth contains or is motivated by enzymes.  Enzymes control the chemical reactions by which food is digested, absorbed and metabolized.  They control the release of energy for every form of physical and mental activity.  Heat inactivates enzymes.  We cannot possibly obtain living active enzymes from cooked foods.


     Not only enzymes but the fibrous or woody element in foods is completely lost in cooking.  It is what gives shape and substance to the fruit or vegetable.  Mother Nature does not intend it to be absorbed into the walls of the colon, but rather to pass through like a broom and sweep the colon clean.  When vegetables are cooked, this sweeping is impossible. 




            The community is usually not informed when the inevitable happens and hazardous material spills into the environment.  Vista Information Solutions compiled the 260 spills reported in the District of Columbia from 1988 through 1995.  The largest quantity of spills occurred in Ward 8, which is 90% black.  The single largest spill also occurred here.  The second largest quantity of spills occurred in Ward 3, which is 88% white.


            Leaking underground tanks are distributed throughout the city.  AAEA lists 307 leaking sites in this report.  It is estimated that there are approximately 8,000 potential leaking underground tanks in the city.  Ward 2 had the most sites. Ward 2 is 43% black.  The second largest site was in Ward 6, which is 73% black.


            Ward 2 and Ward 5 have the most RCRA activity.  RCRA waste is usually a byproduct of commercial and institutional enterprises, and both are thriving in Wards 2 and 5.  Ward 5 is 90% black.  The Resource Conservation Recovery Act of 1976 regulates the generation of hazardous waste by requiring a federal permit to produce, store or transport pollutants. 




            Urban areas face many environmental problems including point-source pollution from factories, utilities, and sewage treatment plants, in addition to unregulated or non-point sources such as toxic urban runoff, combined sewer overflow, illegal dumping, and automobile air pollution.  The District of Columbia, like other metropolitan areas, faces the same environmental problems.  Pollution problems in the District of Columbia are unusual, however, because of the great number of federal facilities and military installations located here.  Many of these federal facilities are found on the lists of polluters in this report. 

            The southern wards (2, 6, 7, and 8) appear to be the most polluted wards.  Of those, wards 2, 7, and 8 appear to be the most polluted.  The two wards with the highest percentage of African Americans (Wards 7 and 8) are, and have been, two of the three most polluted wards in the city.




            The most environmentally beneficial change for the District of Columbia would be the elimination of racism.  It is doubtful this will occur.  Thus, African Americans must take the lead in cleaning and protecting their own communities.


Citizens have several avenues to fight against environmental problems in the District of Columbia.  Most importantly, interested citizens need information about local environmental concerns.  This report attempts to fill part of that need.  The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the United States EPA are useful sources of additional information.            In addition, this report should be used as a foundation for further research.  While this report identifies sources of pollution and the distribution of those sources, the scope of research should be broadened to investigate specific sources and sites, and the specific impacts and effects of pollution on human health and the environment in the District.  Specifically, individuals and organizations need to hold local meetings about the research in this report and develop strategies for learning more about pollution sources in their neighborhoods.


            Next, citizens should contact and pressure elected officials and local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) on important environmental issues and concerns.  Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and other elected officials should respond to the environmental concerns of constituents. 


      The first target should be sources of mobile air pollution.  Electric run-about vehicles should be mass produced and available for short-term rental throughout the city.  Metro buses should be electric or gas powered.  The second target should be federal facilities.  The third target should be water resources.  Massive water treatment purification facilities should be built on Lower Beaverdam Creek and Watts Branch to treat incoming water from Prince George's County. An aggressive water conservation program should be implemented.  The Anacostia Watershed Restoration Agreement should be accelerated and funding should be increased.  The fourth target should be reclamation CERCLIS cites and modification of generators of hazardous waste.  All lead drinking water lines should be removed from the District of Columbia.  All lead paint should be removed.  The sewer system should be separated into sanitary and storm sewer systems and treated accordingly.


     Cogeneration should be maximized at current facilities.  Photovoltaic power should be subsidized and utilized city-wide.  Wind power should be implemented to the maximum extent possible.  Energy efficiency retrofits should be   implemented to the maximum extent possible.  The metro subway system should switch all incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs.

     The Environmental Health Administration’s budget should be increased to survey all leaking underground storage tanks.  Facilities with leaking underground storage tanks are not a part of the permit program, but are regulated by the federal government and are required to inform the government of any leaks and provide updates on cleanup progress and tank condition.  Many underground storage tanks are used to store petroleum fuel at gas stations and other facilities.


The U.S. Congress should make cleaning Ward 2 a special priority.  The President of the United States should make it a personal priority to assure that all Executive Branch agencies located in Washington, D.C. are pollution-free to the maximum extent possible.    




1.   United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1991 Toxics Release Inventory:  Public Data Release, Washington, DC, Page 15, May 1993.

2.            Cameron, Diane, Clean Water:  NRDC's Poison Runoff Index, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, DC, Page 1, 1989.

3.   Ibid., Page 1.

4.                  Proceedings of the 1991 Socioeconomic Energy Research and Analysis Conference, Sponsor by: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Minority Economic Impact, Research and Technology Enterprises Division, July 1993, p. 28.

5.                  Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Pollution Prevention Project:  Identification and Quantification of Vehicular Wastes in the Metropolitan Washington Area, Washington, DC, Page 1, 1992.

6.                  Ibid., Page 5.

7.                  Ibid., Page 5.

8.                  Conway Appel Sherry, Public Forums on Air Quality Announced, and Air Quality Planners Release List of Potential Emissions Control Regulations, Metropolitan Council of Governments, Washington, D.C., June/July, 1993.

9.                  Ibid.

10.      Environmental Equity, Reducing Risk for All Communities, Volume1:           Workgroup Report to the Administrator, Office of Policy, Planning, and     Evaluation, June 1992, p. 12.

11.       "Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning," The First Comprehensive National    Conference, October 6,7 & 8, 1991, Washington, D.C., p A-5.

12.      Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, The Nature and Extent    of Lead Poisoning in Children in the United States: A Report to Congress, Washington, D.C., 1991.

13.      New England Journal of Medicine, "National Estimates of Blood Lead Levels: United States, 1976-1980, September 2, 1982, p. 573.

14.      Gifford, Bill, "Trashing the Neighborhood," Washington City Paper, Volume 11, No. 42, Pages 24-26, October 18-24, 1991.

15.      Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, "ICPRB Study Assesses Anacostia Sediment Pollution," Potomac Basin Reporter, Rockville, MD, Volume 49, No. 1, Page 1, January 1993.

16.      Cameron, Diane, Clean Water:  NRDC's Poison Runoff Index, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, DC, p. 1, 1989.

17.      NRDC, P. 1.

18.    Neiter, Deborah, Combined Sewer Overflow, National Wildlife Federation, Washington, DC, Page 8, 1992.

19.      Ibid., Page 8.

20.     Ibid., page 9.

21.    Testimony of Col. Frank R. Finch, "Water Quality of Anacostia River, "Hearing before the Subcommittee on Water Resources, July 24, 1991, p. 13.

22.    Ibid., Page 13.

23.    The Washington Post Company, Washington Post.Com: Where We Live.




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Race & DC Wards


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Race & Air Chart 2


Race & RCRA Sites


Race & Superfund


Race & Spills


Race & Water


Race and Zip Codes


DC Census Tract Data (1990)