Final Project — The Abandoned DC Archive

I began this project knowing that I wanted to combine my interests in abandoned locations with analysis of the past and present and use the digital history skills we developed in this class. Hence, the Abandoned DC Archive was born!

Here is my poster on this project:

This digital archive works as a space for the abandoned locations to exist. I broke the location archives down into three sections:

  1. Historical Timeline — This area is where I included a quick and generalized history of the locations, dates, important figures in its history (defined by national and local importance), and other names the locations went by.
  2. Archive — This area is the core the website which includes any and all information found digitally and publicly on these locations. The amount and type of sources varies for each location.
  3. Preservation Today — This area details the present history of the location and the preservation history of the location too.
aerial photo of the Mallows Bay shipwrecks

A Note on Sources:

The sources used for this archive were completely reliant upon their availability and if they were digitized.

The core resources I used to gather these sources came from the following places:

– Library of Congress
– Flickr
– Wikipedia Page References
– National Library of Medicine
– DC Planning Office
– National Park Service
– DC Preservation League
– Local preservation groups
– Maryland State Historical Society

The importance of linking the sources to their origins was to show how this archive was an additional resting place for these sources. We had studied in this class the issues of dead links and not updated websites. We lose access to these sources if their original holdings refuse to update with the very changing technology. So, this archive pulls upon others to create not just a digital space for these locations, but for a way for them to live on digitally too.

photograph depicting the construction of an underground trolley system under DuPont Circle


The locations for the archive were pulled from websites like Atlas Obscura (a fantastic website to find the odd in your local area) and through books like Abandoned Washington D.C. and Secret Washington D.C. Luckily, the locations had a wide variety of histories from political to social to LGBTQ+ to gender to disability studies and much more!

Some of my favorites to look at for this were Forest Haven Asylum, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the Iran Embassy, the Capitol Stones, and the Benjamin Franklin School.

the contemporary conditions of Forest Haven Asylum

The unfortunate part with majority of these locations is that they are still rotting away, or they are planned to be destroyed. Some have taken on a new life as people buy these places for other needs.

Whether or not they are physically saved, the abandoned can live in on digital archives as a digital reality to support their existence even when they made fade around us.

the stones and columns removed during the expansion of the Capital would be moved to Rock Creek Park and the National Arboretum.

Link to final project here
Abandoned DC Archive

One Reply to “Final Project — The Abandoned DC Archive”

  1. Hi Jane!

    I love that you were able to combine passion and academic work to create this project! Abandoned places say so much about history, policies, and popular opinion. I think it’s a really interesting underbelly of history, as well. Do you have any thoughts about what long term exhibiting of this kind of work would look like? I feel like it would be so cool as a physical exhibit !! Great work!

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