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2 Traffic Circles in Columbia Heights Lost to History

What if there were traffic circles in Columbia Heights?

In 1896, the land above Florida Avenue was still being developed. It had been subdivided, and there were some buildings built, but largely it was still growing. At that time, they were still working out how they wanted the roads to run, so they had widened 14th up to what is now Park Road, and it was still a smaller road that actually went where Ogden Street is now.

A Traffic Circle in the Middle of Columbia Heights

At that time, city planners wanted to add traffic circles in Columbia Heights, along with extending the large avenues up into the soon-to-be-developed land. They wanted to create a traffic circle at 14th Street NW and Meridian Street NW by extending Kansas Avenue down from the intersection, New Jersey Avenue up from where it now ends at Florida, and turning Ogden into New Jersey, over into Piney Branch Parkway.

While today people may think of the central part of Columbia Heights as around the metro station and DC USA, it extends further north, and this traffic circle would have been closer to the center of the neighborhood today.

Another Traffic Circle a Block Away

But that wasn’t going to be the only traffic circle. Southeast of the 14th & Meridian traffic circle, following New Jersey Avenue, would be another on 13th.

This would have rerouted Columbia Road a bit as it comes into 14th Street, and it would have gone straight up into what’s now New Hampshire Avenue in Petworth and beyond. If you kept going southeast down New Jersey Avenue, you would go through the heart of Cowtown.

It’s kind of funny because along 14th Street, the intersections that are the busiest are 14th and Irving and then where Kenyon and Park meet 14th. If people were to want traffic circles in Columbia Heights today, that’s where they’d more likely want them, but that’s not what they were planning. I’m curious how that would have changed how we see Columbia Heights now.

Valerie Moore

Having lived in Washington, DC for the past 16 years, Valerie has a lot of thoughts about the best things to do, eat, and know around the city. She loves doing deep dives into the interesting things she finds, and sharing with the world. You'll often find her dog, Lil Mikey, along for the ride.

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