The well-known intersection of Florida Avenue NE and New York Avenue NE, also known as the “Virtual Circle” or “Dave Thomas Circle,” will soon be transformed to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers, and improved to include an inviting trio of thoughtfully-landscaped urban spaces for the community to enjoy.
The NoMa Business Improvement District (NoMa BID) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) are releasing the results of the first round of the community naming process for the trio of new public spaces that will be created by the reconfiguration of the Florida Avenue-New York Avenue NE intersection. The top five suggestions for this new public space, culled from more than 1,200 submissions, in alphabetical order, are:
- Douglass Crossing – Survey respondents suggesting this name emphasized the important contributions of Frederick Douglass, social reformer and abolitionist, who was a District resident;
- Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Plaza –This name pays homage to the first woman to ever pitch in the Negro Leagues. She was a longtime resident of Northeast DC, a graduate of Long Branch High School, and a youth sports advocate;
- People’s Plaza – This option invokes the name of the adjacent, still-standing former warehouse for the DMV-headquartered People’s Drug Store, predecessor to CVS, and is also a double entendre, emphasizing the fact that this new public space belongs to the people of the District;
- Three Stars Plaza – This option emphasizes the three stars that are prominent in the DC flag and also reflects the three separate, green public spaces that will be delivered through the intersection redesign project;
- Tiber Gateway – Tiber Creek, now diverted underground, ran near First Street NE and was important to the early development of DC. Referencing the creek in this name would help connect DC back to the natural characteristics and resources that made its very existence possible.
Continue reading for historical knowledge of the area and previous naming inspiration prompts.
New York Avenue NE/Florida Avenue NE Intersection History
1791 – New York Avenue was planned as one of the original streets in the L’Enfant Plan – the original design for Washington D.C., while Boundary Street (later Florida Avenue) would serve as the boundary of the new federal city.
1792 – U.S. surveyor Andrew Ellicott would later revise and finish the L’Enfant Plan surveying the boundaries of the federal district (Territory of Columbia) and the smaller federal city (City of Washington). The New York Avenue NE/Florida Avenue NE intersection would fall immediately outside of the original federal city plan at its northeast border, neighboring what would become the Eckington neighborhood.
1815 – The Joseph Gales estate – the pre-existing Eckington/NoMa area, whose home, Eckington Manor, is its namesake, is subdivided into five (5) subdivisions: High View, McLaughlin’s Subdivision, West Eckington, Center Eckington, and Eckington (the future neighborhood name).
1878 – A building permit for a 2-story brick property was issued in the future tax parcel: Square 709, Lot 5 (the site of the future Wendy’s). The property owner Michael Esch, who resided nearby at 107 Florida Avenue NE, opened a Florist shop in the space.
1887 – Modern Eckington was platted as a residential subdivision in 1887 and developed by real estate entrepreneur George Truesdell. Eckington served as Washington’s first streetcar suburb on the Metropolitan Railroad line. As the second street railway line in DC, it served as the core of Washington Railway and Electric Company (WR&E) operations.
1890 – Boundary Street was renamed Florida Avenue.
1904 – An electric trolley line and railroad track converged at the intersection, serving as outposts of Eckington and Bladensburg, MD
1908 – The florist shop closed, and the building was converted to a station for the Washington Railway and Electric Company (WR&E).
1920s – With the decline of streetcar and trolley ridership and the rise of the automobile and buses, the station closed, and the site saw new life as Thomas J. Crowell’s fuel and auto body shop.
1949 – The fuel and auto body shop were converted to a Texaco gas station.
1980s – The property was acquired by another party, which turned the site into a restaurant leased by Wendy’s, owned/operated by a franchisee.
2010 – DDOT redesigned the traffic pattern of the intersection to operate as a partial traffic circle, or “virtual circle”, with one-way traffic on Florida Avenue NE, First Street NE, and O Street NE, and New York Avenue NE remaining as two-way traffic. The intersection would be unofficially known as “Dave Thomas Circle” by DDOT and locals – named after Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas and referencing Thomas Circle, 15 blocks to the west.
2019 – Mayor Muriel Bowser included $35 million in the District’s capital budget to complete the reconfiguration of the Florida Avene-New York Avenue NE (FL-NY) Intersection.
2021 – On Monday, September 20, 2021, the Wendy’s held its last full day of operation, closing doors the next day – Tuesday, September 21st, 2021. The operator vacated the property on September 30.
2022– As part of its annual mural festival, DC Walls, the NoMa BID commissioned local artists TRAV & EMJAY to paint a large-scale mural on the façade of the building.
Common Naming Conventions for DC Parks
- Named after the street the park/public space is on
- Named after a school or recreation center it is adjacent to
- Named after a neighborhood in which it is located
- Named after a historical figure of note
Click on the tabs below to review each category of naming suggestions.
|Thomas J. Crowell|
|Helen Shaw Fowler|
|Agatha Tiegel Hanson|
|Edwin B. Henderson|
|James G. Hill|
|Mamie “Peanut” Johnson|
|Charles Bird King|
|Loree Harris Murray|
|Washington Railway & Electric Company|
|Judd & Detweiler Printing|
|Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company|
|National Capital Press Company|
|Woodward & Lothrop Services Warehouse|
|McKinley Technology High School|
|Metropolitan Branch Trail|
|Eckington Freight Yard|
|New York Avenue|
|U.S. Route 50|
|Railroad Ties||Buffer Stop|