See Washington Grow!

See Washington Grow!
Caroline Harrison: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One to two class periods


The development of the national capital was of major importance in the early years of the Republic.  But just as our nation grew, so did the city of Washington, D.C.  The mid-nineteenth century was a period of unprecedented growth for the city.


The purpose of this lesson is to allow students the opportunity to research the growth of our nation’s capital and to develop a timeline. 

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet Access to print reference materials Map of Washington, D.C. (available from AAA, as well as other sources)


1.  Ask students if they have ever traveled to Washington, D.C.  If so, ask them what they remember about their visit.

2.  Note that the city has not always looked as it does today, that many of the federal buildings are from the 20th century as are many of the monuments.

3. Have students access the following website:

4.  Divide the class into 3 groups, 1840s and 1850s; 1860s and 1870s; 1880s and 1890s.

5.  Have each team divide again into decade groups and, using the website listings, select the most important 2 or 3 events related to the city’s growth for each decade.

6.  Create a class timeline using the events selected by the groups.  Illustrations may be used instead of or in addition to words.

7.  If possible, locate the buildings, monuments, or other changes on the map of the city.

Extending the Lesson:

The teacher may select those changes to the city of Washington that s/he wants students to address.  

Sources & Resources:

This lesson was created and developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.