The long block of Mississippi Avenue from 13th Street to 15th Street feels like a pocket of country in the city. To the south, the playgrounds and ball fields of Oxon Run Park give way to the undeveloped wilds of Oxon Run Parkway. In winter, the naturally meandering bed of Oxon Run stream can be seen from the road. To the north, rows of brick apartment buildings give way abruptly to the steeply sloping woods surrounding Malcolm X Elementary School.
These nine acres belong to the District of Columbia, but do not appear to have ever had a name. We call them the “Congress Park Woods” for the neighborhood at the top of the hill. The Congress Park hillside presents a varied landscape, with three deep ravines and many smaller ups and downs. Oaks a century old are mixed in among invasives like bush honeysuckle and ailanthus trees.
With no identity, amenities or maintenance, the Congress Park Woods are effectively a no man’s land. Like so many other neglected urban greenspaces, in the absence of care, it becomes an unofficial dump for household trash, construction materials, and especially tires. Ward 8 Woods has removed more than four thousands tires from the area since 2020, meaning it was the city’s single largest tire dump.
The Congress Park Woods have been in the news, but not in a good way: They were featured in a Washington Post article about rusting, abandoned cars in Ward 8 woods. As we work to remove them and pick away at decades of other trash, our long term vision is to see these woods transformed into a beautiful and welcoming oasis for nearby schoolchildren and other residents.
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