Washington DC, home of the government of the United States of America, the Constitution of Independence and a ton of history can be overwhelming.  With so much to look at, you may miss the history of the buildings and the unique styles of architecture that have stood the test of time.  The infographic below walks you through each style of building from the founding of the city through modern times and where you can see examples of each by neighborhood.

Scroll below the infographic to find out what each symbol is and how to use this so you can identify and recognize each style while you pass by.

guide to architecture of washington dc

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Key

  • Each era is color coded.
  • The dates show when this style was popular for construction.
  • The neighborhoods are where lots of these home still exist.

Now that you know how to detect what is on the map, here’s some fun facts about things you can still see as you tour the city by quadrant.

NE

  • Row houses were the most common housing in Capitol Hill
  • large group of Stick row homes can be seen at 500 block Constitution Ave NE
  • Kit houses purchased from Sears were very popular in the far north neighborhoods, many still stand in Takoma.
  • A kit house was a home purchased in pieces from a catalog to be constructed by the homeowner on site.

NW

  • Georgetown houses prior to 1791 are mostly gone and none exist in the city’s core
  • Federal style started in Capitol Hill and flowed towards Georgetown as new row houses were constructed.
  • The first plots for single family homes were laid north of Florida Ave. in 1850 – before that homes were either estates on large lots or row houses.
  • The first apartments in Washington DC were the French Flats in 1880, at 1418 I Street.

SE

  • Apartment buildings went from NW to SE quadrants with first apartment buildings built in 1900 in SE quadrant.
  • Known for family style homes outside of “city living”.

SW

  • This quadrant was mostly the Navy Shipyard and not much residential housing until WW II build out of town houses in Bellevue to house military families working at Bolling Air Force Base.
  • 1985 Danbury Station was built out as part of Bellebue
  • Currently under full redevelopment, now called The Wharf.