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Fort Totten A diverse neighborhood rich in Civil War history.

Updated 3/30/2023

History and Flavor

Civil War buffs are likely aware of the history of Fort Totten, but for those not in the know, here’s a look at the history of the fort and the surrounding area. The fort, built in 1861, was given its name for General Joseph Totten, who served during the War of 1812. It’s not uncommon for areas to take the names of notable military strongholds, and that’s the case here.

Completed in 1862, the fort’s sole purpose was to fortify the capital from southern advances during the Civil War. Unfortunately, very little of the original fort remains today, leaving the neighborhood name and the high point on the hill as the only reminder of what important structure once stood there.

Though no walls stand tall, what remains of the fort is a great piece of living history visitors can move through and learn as they go. The base of the fort is still visible, as are the surrounding ditch, ramparts, and the short walls of the two magazines. 

After the Civil War, further railroad development helped connect Washington with other larger cities and aided in industry development. The industry brought jobs, and jobs brought workers into the area. Residential communities began to emerge in Fort Totten in 1897. The growth continued into the late 1940s when WW2 soldiers returned and flooded the area. Many housing styles started popping up, including duplexes which aren’t very common in the DC area.

Cultural diversity began in the 1950s when nearby Riggs Park became known as “Little Tel Aviv” due to its large Jewish population. Ten years later, that population migrated northeast into Maryland, and the area has become a richly diverse neighborhood. 

Convenient with its own metro station, you’ll find older homes and new condos and apartments to live in.


Music & Parks

  • Takoma Station Tavern Soul, jazz & various other artists play on a small stage in a cozy space with pub food & a full bar.
  • Bloom Bars– BloomBars is a not-for-profit community arts organization based in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
  • Slash Run– Bar inspired by hair-metal music with a jukebox, 100-plus kinds of whiskey, unusual burgers & more.
  • Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society– Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society is a not-for-profit jazz club in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC. All shows are $5 at the door (cash only) unless otherwise noted.
  • 9:30 Club– A nightclub and concert venue in Washington, D.C. In 2018 the 9:30 Club was named one of the ten best live music venues in America by Rolling Stone, and in 2019 the club was named “Venue of the Decade” by VenuesNow.
  • The Howard Theatre– The Howard Theatre is a historic theater located at 620 T Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C. Opened in 1910, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
  • Fort Totten Park– Fort Totten Park is a Civil War memorial on the site of a Union fort. It is under the management of the National Park Service.
  • Keene Field– Green space soccer/baseball fields.
  • Sherman Circle Park– Sherman Circle is an urban park and traffic circle in the Northwest Washington, D.C. neighborhood in nearby Petworth. The circle is named in honor of Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.
  • Fort Slocum Park– Forests & open fields for walking & picnicking, plus a historical marker honoring Civil War history.


Popular Shopping and Eats

  • Heights Shopping Center– Strip mall where you’ll find lots to eat. From Chinese food to seafood, to pizza, a little something for everyone.
  • DC USA– DC USA is an 890,000-square-foot retail development in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. A Washington City Paper poll named DC USA the “Best Designed Retail Space” of 2009. The development is adjacent to the Columbia Heights station on the Yellow and Green Lines of the Washington Metro.
  • Rhode Island Ave Shopping Center– Unfussy strip mall with discount grocery & clothing stores, a nail salon & automotive services.
  • Willow– Clothing and gift shop in the heart of DC.
  • Shops at Dakota Crossing430,000 square feet of retail services, including Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Marshalls.
  • Library Tavern– Unpretentious Persian eatery offering kebabs & grilled meat plates, plus salads & rice dishes.
  • Hitching Post Restaurant– Friendly, upbeat institution with a bar for homestyle, traditional Southern soul food.
  • Ircias Kitchen Restaurant– Traditional Salvadoran fare.
  • Andrene’s– Relaxed neighborhood counter-serve spot for soul food, Caribbean dishes & breakfast.
  • Menya Hosaki– Homemade ramen created with love and integrity. From broth to noodles, tare to chashu, every element is made in-house and warmly brought to your table.
  • Jackie Lee’s– Local watering hole for suds & shots, plus beer-friendly bar fare, smoked ribs & vintage games.


Best Public High Schools

Best Public Elementary Schools

Public Transportation


Fort Totten Subway Station– Train

Missouri Ave & New Hampshire Ave– Bus stop

Riggs Rd NE & Blair Rd NE– Bus stop

Riggs Rd NE & South Dakota Ave NE– Bus stop

Fort Totten Station & Bus Bay T1– Bus stop

1st Pl NE & Riggs Rd NE– Bus stop

Median Home Value

$521,000 as of 2023

Renters: 61%

Owners: 39%


Population 6,544

Median household income –  $79,000

Median age: 37

Families with children – 31%

High school diploma or equivalent – 26%

College Degree: 58%

64% African American

14% Hispanic

21% White

1% Other