Liquid Assets Bike Tour: Lost Streams and the Evolving City

Route map (full-screen)

D.C. wasn’t always a city. The District was once farmland, drained by marshy streams and rushing creeks. Those watercourses still flow, mostly underground. Starting near the historic water filtration plant in Bloomingdale, we’ll work our way south and east, tracing two historic streams. Along the way, we’ll unearth clues about the shantytowns and streetcar suburbs that sprang up as the city grew.

We’ll find out why Bloomingdale floods, visit the one-time Irish neighborhood of Swampoodle (now under Union Station), and follow the 19th-century tunnels that still supply our drinking water. Our trip concludes near New York Avenue, exploring one of the few surviving industrial areas in the city, home to old warehouses and machine shops, new breweries, and small-scale distilleries.

Students will need a bicycle, and will need to be reasonably comfortable riding in city traffic. Almost any sort of bike will do. Students will be responsible for their own safety and for obeying traffic controls. This is a no-drop, non-athletic ride: We will regroup frequently, and we won’t leave anyone behind.

This class offered through Knowledge Commons DC (signup/info).