clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Gut And Other Vivid Names Of D.C.'s Old Shanty Towns

[Photo by Wally Gobetz]

There are neighborhoods in any city that are more impoverished than others, but in the less politically correct turn of the century, it was more obvious which ones housed the have-nots based on the neighborhood names. Currently, people in D.C. would only know to connect a neighborhood named Mount Pleasant to horrible riots if they've brushed up on their D.C. history. But Ghosts of D.C. found an old Washington Post article that chronicled D.C.'s shanty villages during the economic depression of 1893 and their names are extremely vivid. Murder Bay wasn't just a nickname, it was a place. You've heard of Hell's Kitchen in New York, but D.C. had Hell's Bottom. There were also nooks called Swinghammer Alley, Fighting Alley, Slop Bucket Row, Buzzard's Roost and quite possibly the greatest one, The Gut. And you thought Swampoodle and Buzzard Point were bad. Many of those were in Southwest DC, but some of these neighborhoods are in the downtown areas currently occupied by government buildings and fancy restaurants.
· Squalid Sections: Buzzard's Roost, Ryder's Castle, Zig-Zag Alley, and Swinghammer Alley [Ghosts of DC]