Walking Tour of Dupont Circle

I grew up in a household with two parents who love history. My Mom dabbles in genealogy and my Dad is a civil war enthusiast. As a kid we used to take as many trips as possible each year to battle fields, monuments, and museums. I love that my parents wanted me to see as much as possible and learn simultaneously.

Today I’m not a huge history buff but I do enjoy learning about the places I visit and especially the area where I live. Lucky for me, my Uncle has a part time job as a tour guide for Washington Walks. On Sunday Steve and I drove to DC for a Dupont Circle tour given by my Uncle! The day was blustery and cold but we put on layers and comfy shoes to start the two hour tour.

Turns out we were the only ones willing to brave the weather because no one else showed up for the tour! UP (Uncle Paul) had a tour the weekend prior with about 20 attendees but we were able to get a personal tour and take the time to ask questions and take photos which I appreciated.

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Since moving to Baltimore I have been visiting DC at least once a month and am learning about the neighborhoods. The first time I visited Dupont Circle was last month for our anniversary weekend and loved it, but I didn’t know anything about it!

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The tour was great and we learned SO MUCH. Learning about the changes that Dupont Circle has gone through over time was really interesting to me. In the late 1800’s it was one of the richest cities in America. Socialites would live in their Dupont Circle homes for a few months out of the year (because who wants to be in DC during the winter?!) and would retire to Europe for winter. During the 60’s it became an area known for war protests and a more bohemian crowd. Around this time it also became popular as a gay community which still stands today.

Some of the huge mansions are still there but are either serving as event venues, organization headquarters, office space, or condos. It was hard for me to picture these beautiful and ornate homes as offices.

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As the tour continued it started to warm up and we were able to peel back some layers and soak up the sunshine. We learned where the name Dupont Circle came from (Samuel Francis Du Pont who was a rear admiral in the Civil War) and why there are so many little patches of grass and circles throughout the city. Since the city is laid out in grid pattern there are small sections where a circle was necessary or a small patch of grass is placed in an intersection. One of those patches of grass was purchased by a friend of Sonny Bono and it was memorialized in his honor.

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The tour was great and I fully intend to go on a few of the others once touring season begins again in April. If you are in Washington DC this month check them out online as the tours end on October 31st!

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  • Katie Benney

    I might be contacting UP for a tour in April. I love the Potomac/ National Mall area of DC.