How the Civil War Changed Washington
This exhibition examines the social and spatial impact of the Civil War on Washington, DC, and the resulting dramatic changes in social mores, and in the size and ethnic composition of the city’s population. The population of the city increased tremendously during the war. Between 1860 and 1870, the population of the area that became the city of Washington increased from 75,080 inhabitants to 131,700, and the African American population increased from 1/5th to 1/3rd beginning a trend of growth that continued until a century after the war when they would become the majority. Women workers joined the federal work force; the federal government was reimagined and after the War; and forts built in the hilly terrain around the city became new neighborhoods, expanding the city’s footprint. The exhibition contextualizes these and other changes while telling the fascinating stories of individuals who came to Washington during the Civil War and who contributed to its shaping.