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Dupont Circle


Dupont Circle is a traffic circle, neighborhood, and historic district in Northwest Washington, D.C. The traffic circle is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue NW, Connecticut Avenue NW, New Hampshire Avenue NW, P Street NW, and 19th Street NW. The Dupont Circle neighborhood is bounded approximately by 15th Street NW to the east, 22nd Street NW to the west, M Street NW to the south, and Florida Avenue NW to the north. The local government Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 2B) and the Dupont Circle Historic District have slightly different boundaries.[2][3]

Dupont Circle is served by the Metrorail Red Line at the Dupont Circle Metro Station. There are two entrances: north of the circle at Q Street NW and south of the circle at 19th Street NW.

Dupont Circle is located in the “Old City” of Washington, D.C. (the area planned by architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant), but remained largely undeveloped until after the American Civil War. Improvements made in the 1870s by a board of public works headed by Alexander “Boss” Shepherd transformed the area into a fashionable residential neighborhood. Some of Washington’s wealthiest residents constructed houses in the neighborhood during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[4]

In 1871, the Army Corps of Engineers began construction of the traffic circle, then called Pacific Circle. In 1882, Congress authorized a memorial statue of Samuel Francis Du Pont, in recognition of his service as a rear admiral during the Civil War. The bronze statue was erected in 1884 in a park at the center of the circle. In 1921, the current double-tiered white marble fountain replaced the statue. Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon, the co-creators of the Lincoln Memorial, designed the fountain, which features carvings of the three classical nudes symbolizing the sea, the stars and the wind on the fountain’s shaft.

The neighborhood began to decline after World War II and the 1968 riots, but began to enjoy a resurgence in the 1970s fueled by urban pioneers. Along with The Castro in San Francisco, Hillcrest in San Diego, Greenwich Village in New York City, Boystown in Chicago, and West Hollywood in Los Angeles, Dupont Circle is considered by many as a historic locale in the development of American gay identity. Gentrification accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s, and the area is now considered by many to be a more mainstream and trendy location with coffeehouses, restaurants, bars, and upscale retail stores.

Rowhouses primarily built prior to 1900 feature variations on the Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque revival styles. Rarer are the palatial mansions and large freestanding houses that line the broad, tree-lined diagonal avenues that intersect the circle. Many of these larger dwellings were built in the styles popular between 1895 and 1910.

One such grand residence is the marble and terra cotta Patterson house at 15 Dupont Circle (currently the Washington Club). This Italianate mansion, the only survivor of the many mansions that once ringed the circle, was built in 1901 by New York architect Stanford White for Robert Patterson, editor of the Chicago Tribune, and his wife Nellie, heiress to the Chicago Tribune fortune.

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