Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Does your house back on Ecuador, Peluca or Basil Alley?

So this is strange. I was looking at Google Maps and saw some names I wasn't familiar with between 14th and 15th: there are three named alleys, being Ecuador, Peluca and Basil Alleys. I've never heard of those, and there are no Google results for them or anything similar. Ecuador kind of makes sense as it's next to the Ecuadorian Embassy, but the rest I have no idea. The city's GIS Data doesn't show them either. I wonder where they came from? Strange.

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Anybody ever hear of these? I looked around Google Maps and didn't see any other named alleys anywhere in the neighborhood. Pretty sure no houses front on them either, unlike those few remaining alleys with houses in Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill, or Shaw.

Interesting history tidbit, alley houses used to be very common in DC, with the wealthier people living on the outside of the block and the poorer folks on the inside. Often conditions were pretty bad and they had a reputation for crime, and in 1934 Congress passed the Alley Dwelling Elimination Act, removing many of the houses. By the 1950s only very few were left, though they're becoming more popular. Here's a project at Bryn Mawr about DC's alley dwellings, if you're curious.


  1. I live on Ridge St. NW, which used to be an alley! My house was built in the 1860s or 70s. Thanks for highlighting this. Maybe it'll get me motivated to finally do some research on the street -- I've always wondered when it was converted from an alley.

  2. Cultural DC has a nice piece on alleys at just zip ahead to page 9. BTW The poor folks who lived on the alleys were often African American.

  3. found another one. go to the block between 3rd and 4th, I and K, NE.

    Compton Lane. Can't find record of it anywhere else...


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