Tenleytown, in northwest Washington, D.C., is the second oldest village in the District. It originally was part of a sizable tract of land called “Friendship,” named in recognition of the amicable relationship between the two grantees, Thomas Addison and James Stoddert.
The Frederick Road (today’s Belt Road) had long been a north/south route and River Road was laid out in the 1780’s. A 1791 survey of River Road shows Tennally’s Tavern at the intersection of River Road and what is today Wisconsin Avenue. The village of Tenleytown, which took its name from the tavern, grew – very slowly – around the intersection.
The Civil War brought troops and the construction of Fort Reno. At war’s end Tenleytown reverted to a rural village. The platting of Reno City in 1869 and subsequent home building there by both whites and formerly enslaved people, as well as an influx of German immigrants responding to advertisements for cheap land, began the transition to a more populous community.
Fort Reno was demolished and the reservoir was built on its site. Electric streetcars arrived in 1890 providing easier access to downtown, but it was only in the second and third decades of the 20th century that residential development led to the densely populated area we experience today.
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