Bladensburg is approximately 1 mile from the Washington DC line to the NE and a residential suburb of Washington, D.C., on the Anacostia River. The Town of Bladensburg is also a part of the larger group of communities called the Port Towns.
The Town of Bladensburg, originally called Garrison’s Landing, was renamed in honor of Thomas Bladen, governor of Md. 1742-1747. Bostwick was also built at this time, and would later be home to the first Secretary of the Navy. (c.1747) and Indian Queen Tavern, also known as George Washington House (c.1732). The defeat (August 24, 1814) here of American troops under Gen. W. H. Winder enabled the British under General Robert Ross to march on Washington, D.C., and burn many of the public buildings. Despite the outlawing of dueling four years before, the Town was also the scene of the historic duel in which Stephen Decatur, the naval hero, was mortally wounded in 1820 by James Barron. Bladensburg was a busy port, shipping out flour and tobacco.
Success came with a price however, as tobacco crops made the soil brittle. As more and more tobacco was planted, the fragile soil washed down into the Anacostia River, reducing its depth and width. By the early 19th century it became difficult for ocean-going vessels to make port at Bladensburg. The port finally saw off its last vessel in the 1830s. Chartered 1742, Incorporated 1854 (Chapter 137, Acts of 1854). Other buildings dating from this time include the Market Master ’s House, The Indian Queen Tavern (George Washington House), Magruder House and the Ross House (which was moved to Baltimore County).
Despite the closing of the port and the disastrous battle, the area continued to thrive due to its strategic location and proximity to the growing Washington, D.C. The nation’s first highway and first railroad were built through Bladensburg.
The inventor of the telegraph lived in Bladensburg, and the first telegraph line was strung through Bladensburg. The first unmanned balloon launch in the world happened in Bladensburg. Through all this, the community retained its agrarian nature and small-town focus, and it remained this way all the way to the 1920′s.
In the 1910s – 1920s, the development of a streetcar system connected Bladensburg to Washington, D.C. in a way not previously possible. Now, people could live in Bladensburg and visit Washington D.C. in the same day, or vice versa. Bladensburg took up some of the character of a “bedroom community”. The streetcars brought in new people, who settled on previously unincorporated land to the north and SW of Bladensburg. The lack of services and utilities in these areas led to the establishment of the municipalities we now know as Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Edmonston.
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