Photo by the author.

Blue stone curbing, laid primarily in the late 19th and early 20th century, can still be found in parts of Capitol Hill, Le Droit Park, Mount Pleasant, and Georgetown. On U Street SE, in Historic Anacostia, blue stone curbing also endures, holding possibly the last remaining horse tie in the city.

Is this horse tie on the 1300 block of U Street SE the last one left? Do you know of any others?

Anacostia was established in 1854 as the city’s first subdivision. A few relics of the past, such as the horse tie, remain in plain sight. Horse ties, usually accompanied by a copper or iron ring, have all but vanished from American cities, with the notable exception of preservation-minded Portland. The tie on U Street SE appears to have survived for more than 100 years. 

In Anacostia, where residents such as Frederick Douglass agitated the city for years to make repairs to his street (Jefferson Street, now W Street SE), petitioning Congress for infrastructure improvements was a generational exercise, passed down from father to son, mother to daughter.

The Washington Post reported on May 22, 1909 that the District Commissioners budgeted for street improvements across the city. Its article laid out the details of the long-awaited public works project: “That U street southeast between Nicholas avenue [now Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE] and Fourteenth street be improved by setting blue stone curb on both sides, relaying cobble gutters and regulating surface of roadways with gravel, at an estimated cost of $1,100 chargeable to appropriation for ‘streets in Anacostia.’”

Along with the blue stone, after all these years the horse tie in Historic Anacostia abides.