Nestled between Lafayette Square and Georgetown, and just south of Dupont Circle, lies bustling Foggy Bottom. Abuzz with George Washington University students and celebrated for its pathways into Rock Creek Park, this neighborhood is also known for its world-class performing arts venues, fine dining, and political landmarks.
The name "Foggy Bottom" arose from the area’s location next to the river and its marshy banks, which made the area prone to fog at various times of the year. In addition, in the 19th century, the Potomac waterfront supported a number of factories whose stacks emitted smoke.
As anyone who’s spent a summer in Washington knows, air circulation is not great in the parts of the city closest to downtown. The original Washington City was laid out on the coastal plain lying between the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The city’s boundary was defined by the escarpment, or steep hills (north of Florida Avenue, for example), that tend to trap hot, humid air in the low-lying downtown areas.
This riverfront neighborhood is one of the city's oldest. Often referred to as the West End, Foggy Bottom was once a community of Irish, German, and African American workers employed by its breweries, glass plants, and municipal gas works.
Today you can still find a few intimate enclaves of historic houses and sacred places such as St. Mary's Episcopal Church and the Concordia German Evangelical Church. These historic structures cluster in the middle of a neighborhood now better known for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the massive Watergate apartments, and The George Washington University, home to Lisner Auditorium.
In addition to Foggy Bottom's historical and cultural attractions, a tour of the neighborhood takes you past some exceptional sculptures. For starters, a smiling Albert Einstein greets you outside the National Academy of Sciences, extending a welcome to curious visitors and climbing children. See below for a list of other significant sculptures.
Check out our Calendar for up-to-date information on exhibitions, lectures and other heritage happenings in the city.
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