Foggy Bottom

Learn more about Foggy Bottom

The Neighborhood:

Foggy Bottom is a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. . It is one of the oldest late 18th and 19th-century neighborhoods in DC. Today, much of Foggy Bottom is occupied by the main campus of George Washington University (GW). GW has grown significantly over the past decades and now covers much of the neighborhood, which has many historic old homes and numerous mid-rise apartment buildings.

The southern edge of Foggy Bottom is home to many federal government offices, including the State Department. It is also home to numerous international and American organizations, such as The World Bank buildings, the International Finance Corporation, the International Monetary Fund, the Office of Personnel Management, the American Pharmacists Association, the American Red Cross National Headquarters, the Pan American Health Organization, the Organization of American States, and much more. In addition, the Mexican and Spanish Embassies are located in Foggy Bottom, both on Pennsylvania Avenue. It is  home to the Executive Office of the President of the United States and the Office of the Vice President of the United States. On the other side of the office is the White House, which is not in the neighborhood.

Just south of the Watergate Complex on the Potomac River lies the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Kennedy Center is the home of the National Symphony Orchestra and numerous other theatrical and musical exhibitions. At the eastern edge of the neighborhood is the Corcoran Gallery of Art, whose permanent collection contains works from Rembrandt, Eugène Delacroix, Edgar Degas, Thomas Gainsborough, John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Gene Davis, among others. OnVirginia Avenue is the Simon Bolivar Memorial. George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium and Smith Center are frequently home to major concerts, as is DAR Constitution Hall.


Foggy Bottom is west of downtown Washington, in the Northwest quadrant, bounded roughly by 17th Street to the east, Rock Creek Parkway to the west, Constitution Avenue to the south, andPennsylvania Avenue to the north.

A Little History:

Foggy Bottom is one of the oldest late 18th and 19th-century neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. The area is thought to have received the name because its riverside location made it susceptible to concentrations of fog and industrial smoke, an atmospheric trait that did not prevent the neighborhood from becoming the original location of the United States Naval Observatory.

In 1765, German settlers established the town of Hamburg on what would become the area between 24th and 18th NW Street. Jacob Funk (also known as Jacob Funck), the recorded founder of Hamburg, was said to have bought the land and divided it into 287 lots of land. There are reported to be two more founders of the town of Hamburg, Robert Peter and James Linigan.The three had control of the land until 1791 when the territories were given to the city of Washington and the United States government. In the town of Hamburg, a German community was founded by many German immigrants who had left Europe had moved to. In 1768, Funk sold two lots of territory to both the German Lutheran community as well as to the German Presbyterian community. The lot that was sold to the German Lutherans was located on the corner of 20th and G Street. The lot sold to the German Presbyterians was located on the southeast corner of 22nd and G Street. The Lutheran lot would not be in use till the year 1833 and the Presbyterian until the 1880. The lot that was sold to the German Lutheran community was turned into the Concordia German Church.

Foggy Bottom was once a community of white and black laborers employed at the nearby breweries, glass plants, and city gas works. These industrial facilities are also cited as a possible reason for the neighborhood’s name, the “fog” being the smoke given off by the industries. The historic neighborhood is preserved and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Foggy Bottom area was the site of one of the earliest settlements in what is now the District of Columbia, when German settler Jacob Funk subdivided 130 acres (0.53 km2) near the meeting place of the Potomac River and Rock Creek in 1763. The settlement officially was named Hamburgh, but colloquially was called Funkstown, and attracted few settlers until the 1850s, when more industrial enterprises came into the area. Funk also set aside land in Hamburgh for a German-speaking congregation in 1768. Concordia German Evangelical Church, located at 1920 G Street NW was finally founded in 1833. Today the congregation is The United Church, and is the oldest religious community remaining in Foggy Bottom.

Foggy Bottom was also the name of a line of beer by the Olde Heurich Brewing Company, which was founded by German immigrant Christian Heurich’s grandson Gary Heurich. He tried to revive the tradition of his family’s Christian Heurich Brewing Company which had ceased production in Foggy Bottom. Christian Heurich Brewing Company’s most successful products bore such local names as Senate and Old Georgetown. During the 1950s, Heurich Brewing also sponsored the city’s professional baseball team, the Washington Senators. Industry consolidation led the brewery to cease operations in 1956. In 1961–1962, the brewery buildings were razed to make way for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Heurich, Jr., and his two sisters donated a portion of the brewery land to the Kennedy Center in memory of their parents, and established the Christian Heurich Family as one of the Founders of the national cultural center. Although the firm was founded in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, the modern beer was brewed in Utica, New York.

Since 1912, Foggy Bottom has been the site of The George Washington University’s main campus, which has grown to encompass 42 acres of the area.

The United States Department of State gained the metonym “Foggy Bottom” when it moved into the neighborhood in 1947.