Tiber Creek

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Tiber Creek
  • Tyber Creek
  • Goose Creek
White Lot during the war, Washington D.C. Shows Tiber River, now "B" St. - NARA - 529253.jpg
National Archives at College Park
White Lot during the war, Washington D.C. Shows Tiber River, now "B" St. , c.1860–1865.
Etymology Tiber River in Rome, Italy
Location
CountryU.S.
District District of Columbia
City Washington, D.C.
Physical characteristics
Source 
  location Shaw neighborhood
  coordinates 38°54′56″N77°01′13″W / 38.9155556°N 77.0202778°W / 38.9155556; -77.0202778 [1]
Mouth  
  location
National Mall
  coordinates
38°53′26″N77°02′21″W / 38.8906675°N 77.0391435°W / 38.8906675; -77.0391435 Coordinates: 38°53′26″N77°02′21″W / 38.8906675°N 77.0391435°W / 38.8906675; -77.0391435 [1]
Basin features
River system Potomac River

Tiber Creek or Tyber Creek, originally named Goose Creek, is a tributary of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. It was a free-flowing creek until 1815, when it was channeled to become part of the Washington City Canal. Presently, it flows under the city in tunnels, including under Constitution Avenue NW.

Contents

History

Originally named Goose Creek, it was renamed during the late 1600s by settler Francis Pope, who owned a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farmstead along the banks of the creek. Dubbing his land "Rome", Pope renamed the creek after the Italian city's river. [2]

Using the original Tiber Creek for commercial purposes was part of Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant's 1791 "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of the United States . . .". [3] The idea was that the creek could be widened and channeled into a canal to the Potomac. By 1815 the western portion of the creek became part of the Washington City Canal, running along what is now Constitution Avenue. [4] By the 1840s, when Washington had no separate storm drain and sewer system, the Washington City Canal had become a notorious open sewer. When Alexander "Boss" Shepherd joined the D.C. Board of Public Works in 1871, he and the Board engaged in a massive, albeit uneven, series of infrastructure improvements, including grading and paving streets, planting trees, installing sewers and laying out parks. One of these projects enclosed Tiber Creek and the Washington City Canal. A German immigrant engineer named Adolf Cluss, also on the Board, is credited with constructing a tunnel from Capitol Hill to the Potomac "wide enough for a bus to drive through to put Tiber Creek underground." [5] [6]

Many of the buildings on the north side of Constitution Avenue apparently are built on top of the creek, including the Internal Revenue Service Building, part of which is built on wooden piers sunk into the wet ground along the creek course. The low-lying topography there contributed to the flooding of the National Archives Building (Archives I in Washington, D.C.), IRS headquarters, and William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building that forced their temporary closure beginning in late June 2006. In fact, until the mid-1990s, land near the intersection of 14th Street and Constitution Avenue was a parking lot because the underground water was too difficult to deal with. During construction of the Ronald Reagan Building (1990–98), the engineers diverted the water. But that dewatering then reduced the water level underneath the IRS building which caused the wooden piers to lose stability and part of the IRS building foundation to sink.

A pub near Tiber Creek's historic course north of Capitol Hill was named after it. The Bistro Bis restaurant now occupies the Tiber Creek Pub's former location. [7] A lock keeper's house from the Washington branch of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal remains at the southwest corner of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, NW, near the former mouth of Tiber Creek, and the western end of the Washington City Canal. [8] [9] [10]

According to General James Wilkinson's memoirs, "I may be excused for mention another incident, which deeply interested [...] my family. My father, to preserve his health and property, purchased 500 acres of land lying on the Tyber and Potomack, which probably comprises the President's house; but at the time, about 1762, the present seat of government was considered so remote from the early settlements of the province, that my mother objected to the removal on accounts of the distance, and my father transferred the property to Thomas Johns, esq. a friend and contemporary, of his neighborhood, to whose family it proved an auspicious contract; but in this case, the benefactor did not long enjoy the prosperity he had promoted." [11]

Presently, the stream flowing under the city is often referred to as Tiber Creek though its common past with the Canal is acknowledged. [12]

Location and Course

It laid southeast of then Georgetown, Maryland, amid lands that were selected for the City of Washington, the new capital of the United States. [2] Presently this land is the National Mall.

Several small streams flowed from the north and south meeting at the base of Capitol Hill then heading west to flow into the Potomac River near Jefferson Pier. The overall course of the creek was kept when the Canal was built during 1815.

Related Research Articles

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Canal in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, United States

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, abbreviated as the C&O Canal and occasionally called the "Grand Old Ditch," operated from 1831 until 1924 along the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland. The canal's principal cargo was coal from the Allegheny Mountains.

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Anacostia River

The Anacostia River is a river in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States. It flows from Prince George's County in Maryland into Washington, D.C., where it joins with the Washington Channel to empty into the Potomac River at Buzzard Point. It is approximately 8.7 miles (14.0 km) long. The name "Anacostia" derives from the area's early history as Nacotchtank, a settlement of Necostan or Anacostan Native Americans on the banks of the Anacostia River.

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History of Washington, D.C.

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Jefferson Pier

Jefferson Pier, Jefferson Stone, or the Jefferson Pier Stone, in Washington, D.C., marks the second prime meridian of the United States even though it was never officially recognized, either by presidential proclamation or by a resolution or act of Congress.

Washington City Canal

The Washington City Canal operated from 1815 until the mid-1850s in Washington, D.C. The canal connected the Anacostia River, termed the "Eastern Branch" at that time, to Tiber Creek, the Potomac River, and later the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O). The canal became disused during the late 19th century and the city government covered over or filled in various sections in 1871.

Goose Creek (Potomac River tributary)

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Lockkeepers House, C & O Canal Extension United States historic place

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James Creek

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References

  1. 1 2 "Tiber Creek (historical)". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. April 1, 1993. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  2. 1 2 "The Mysterious Mr. Jenkins of Jenkins Hill". web.archive.org. October 10, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  3. "Original Plan of Washington, D.C." U.S. Library of Congress. Accessed 2009-09-16.
  4. Cornelius W. Heine (1953). "The Washington City Canal." Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D.C.53-56 (1953-56) 1-27. Now called Historical Society of Washington, DC. Archived 2009-12-07 at the Wayback Machine
  5. German-American Heritage Society of Washington, D.C. Accessed 2009-09-16.
  6. "The Tiber Creek Sewer Flush Gates, Washington, D.C.", Engineering News and American Railway Journal, February 8, 1894.
  7. Goldreich, Samuel (1998). "Bistro Bis succeeds Capitol Hill pub as welcoming lunch option." Washington Times. 1998-10-12.
  8. dcMemorials.com. Plaque beside the Lockkeeper's House marking the former location in Washington, D.C. Accessed 2009-09-16.
  9. HMdb.org: The Historical Marker Database. "Lock Keeper’s House Marker." Accessed 2009-09-16.
  10. Coordinates of lock keeper's house: 38°53′31″N77°02′23″W / 38.8919305°N 77.0397498°W
  11. Memoirs of My Own Times, General James Wilkinson. Pg 9.
  12. What you’d see in Washington’s Tiber Creek sewer — if you dared to go - The Washington Post - John Kelly - August 28, 2013

Further reading