HistoryQuestDC

HistoryQuestDC is an interactive online map that contains all of the historical data I have collected on the extant (standing), addressed buildings of Washington DC . . . and much more.

I started mapping my historical buildings data around 2006 and within a few years the DC Historic Preservation Office (DCHPO) had me re-survey and map most of the city’s historic districts. Then we set out to survey the entire district by collecting at least a little something on every single addressed building in the District of Columbia.

It was clear that the only way to present, understand,  and analyze all this data was through an online interactive map. That map is a work-in-progress known as HistoryQuestDC (HQDC) that is hosted and maintained by the DC Office of Planning’s GIS staff.

HistoryQuestCapHillPopup

A snip from the buildings layer of HistoryQuestDC

HQDC incorporates all of the Building Permits Database data on extant buildings and adds data collected from a combination of property tax assessments, period real estate atlases and other maps, newspapers, city directories, previous surveys by architectural historians, Google Streetview, and any other sources that might help me figure out when a building was built, who built it, and whatever else I can quickly turn up.

Other feature layers (click the Layer List icon, white on blue, top right of the map) include National Register of Historic Places sites (with handy links in the popups), Historic Landmarks, Historic Districts, DC Subdivisions, the L’Enfant Plan Boundary, the Squares, and the Wards.

Most of the city’s “developer subdivisions” are included and are available in this format for the first time. Subdivisions were sourced from records in the Office of the Surveyor and I oversaw their creation.

HQDC Dunigan Search

A snip from HistoryQuest DC showing subdivisions and results from a search for developer (original owner) = “dunigan”

Click the Query icon, top right, to search for buildings built at particular times or places or by specific developers or architects.

HistoryQuestDC is a truly unique tool for understanding the buildings and development of Washington DC. If you find anything like it for any jurisdiction of any size, anywhere, please let me know.

I’m now under contract with the Historical Society of Washington DC, which has an agreement with DCHPO, to update and maintain HQDC. Although the East End (the Left Bank of the Anacostia) is represented in the map, we will be fully surveying the entire area for the first time, filling in what is missing, searching for the area’s oldest buildings, and applying quality control to the current data. We will also be updating HistoryQuestDC to keep it current by removing razed buildings and adding new ones.

More on HistoryQuestDC here.

HQDCSnip

HistoryQuestDC snip showing historic districts and historic landmarks