The Southwest Neighborhood Assembly’s (SWNA’s) mission is “to improve the quality of life for all residents; to open to every resident the wide cultural horizon of urban living; to help create rich and equal social, educational, and economic opportunities for residents of Southwest; to assist in providing the opportunity for gainful employment for all; to promote development of the economic and aesthetic potential of Southwest; and preserve its diverse history.” That final note about preserving the diverse history is the continual undertaking of the SWNA History Task Force. It is also an important component of other aims of the broader mission: to educate, inform development, and remind residents of the strength of the community that has come through our diverse backgrounds and shared experiences.
The History Task Force was among the original task forces created with the founding of SWNA, highlighting the importance that remembering our past can have on shaping our future. With that goal in mind the History (or Heritage as it is sometimes known) Task Force has taken on many and varied projects over the years. From assisting with preservation designations and historical surveys, to the creation of the heritage trail and painting of the call boxes. We continue those efforts today around the community, while looking for new ways to engage with our history and better continue to assist in projects we have experience with from past efforts.
As we move into the digital age, one no longer has to search through a book on the shelves of the reference section at the local library to find a wealth of information (though perusing those shelves is still highly recommended for a real chance at finding a hidden gem). In an effort to recognize this shifting landscape and the growing importance of digital resources, the History Task Force has begun to make a more concerted effort to collect useful resources and tools in a central location. This includes links to great offerings from institutions around the city, as well as studies that SWNA and other local organizations have commissioned about our home here in Southwest. We invite you to visit our website,, and encourage you to take advantage of the wealth of resources collected there.
We will continue to update this site as we learn of new resources and whenever we commission research to contribute. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to dive into the rich past of Southwest DC. Learn about where the Tiber Island or Greenleaf residences derived their names from, how we were uniquely shaped by urban planning of the 1950s and ’60s, or some of the important figures who took up residence here and helped shape our city and country—Supreme Court justices, Civil Rights leaders, elected officials, artists, and many others. Some of this may take you time and a little sleuthing to uncover, but we hope to provide a good spring board to get you started on your journey. So please take advantage and enjoy learning more about the big impact of this little quadrant of DC.
By: Ryan Pierce
Chair, History Task Force