Southwest Washington, DC Urban Renewal Area and Plan

Bounded roughly by Independence Avenue to the north, South Capitol to the east, P Street to the south, and 14th Street, SW to the west

In progress

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Southwest Washington was one of the earliest and most controversial urban renewal efforts in the United States. It led to the landmark Supreme Court decision Berman v. Parker, which established the legal framework for comprehensive land use planning. The Redevelopment Act of 1945 marked the beginning of Southwest’s urban renewal and the creation of the DC Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA). In 1950, the National Capital Park and Planning Commission (NCPPC) published a comprehensive plan, identifying Southwest as a “problem area” needing redevelopment. The first renewal plan for the area was published in 1952 and RLA began property acquisition in 1953. In spring 1954 widespread demolition began, over strong community opposition. Over two decades of development, the renewal efforts displaced approximately 1,500 businesses and 23,000 residents from 560 acres of land. By the completion of 1970s redevelopment, 13,000 middle and upper class residents were in living in around 5,800 new housing units.