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John Russell Pope's National City Christian Church stands in the northwest corner of Thomas Circle

Thomas Circle is a traffic circle in Northwest Washington, D.C., in the United States. It is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue NW, Vermont Avenue NW, 14th Street NW, and M Street NW.[1] It is named for George Henry Thomas, a Union Army general in the American Civil War.


Thomas Circle, ca. 1922

Thomas Circle was constructed as a traffic circle as part of the original L'Enfant Plan for the District of Columbia. The circle was named for American Civil War General George Henry Thomas.[2]

A horse-drawn railway installed around the Circle in the mid-1860s led to development to the north. Paved roads and sewers soon followed, and the area quickly attracted wealthy residents. Luther Place Memorial Church was built in 1874.[3]

In December 1938, construction began on a $680,000 tunnel that would allow Massachusetts Avenue's through-traffic to pass under the circle.[4] This underpass opened on March 14, 1940.[5] North-south running through-traffic lanes cutting through the center of the circle were added to improve traffic flow.

In October 2006, the D.C. Department of Transportation completed a 2.5-year, $6 million reconstruction of the Thomas Circle. The project included the addition of bike lanes, pedestrian crosswalks mid-circle (which hadn't previously existed), new in-circle traffic lights, better street lighting, and new sidewalks and landscaping. The biggest change, however, came with the elimination of the 14th Street through-lanes. The circle was restored to its original design according to the L'Enfant Plan, which allowed for a larger landscaped area inside the circle.[6] The rehabilitation of Thomas Circle won an Honorable Mention in the "Historic Preservation" category of the Federal Highway Administration's Excellence in Highway Design awards for 2006.[7]

As of the start of the 21st century, Thomas Circle is adjacent to the southern boundary of the Greater 14th Street and Logan Circle Historic District.[8] The circle marks the boundary between "downtown 14th Street" and the "uptown 14th Street",[1] the latter of which is a rapidly gentrifying gay neighborhood within the city.[8] D.C. city officials now consider Thomas Circle to be a "gateway" to the Logan Circle, Shaw, and U Street Corridor neighborhoods.[9]

In April 2014, Thomas Circle became the eastern terminus of the M Street Cycle Track. This 1.4 miles (2.3 km), west-bound only bicycling lane extends to 28th Street NW.[10]

The equestrian bronze of Major General George Henry Thomas in its urban context


A statue of General George Henry Thomas by John Quincy Adams Ward was erected in Thomas Circle in 1879.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b District of Columbia Department of Transportation & June 2008, p. 47.
  2. ^ Ford 2006, p. 177.
  3. ^ Williams, Paul K. The Neighborhoods of Logan, Scott, and Thomas Circles. Arcadia Publishing. p. 47. ISBN 0738514047.
  4. ^ Woodruff, William E. (November 27, 1938). "Expenditures May Reach $200,000,000". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ DeVore, Robert (March 10, 1940). "Underpass At Thomas Circle Ready". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ "DDOT Announces Thomas Circle Restoration Is Complete." Press release. District of Columbia Department of Transportation. October 24, 2006.
  7. ^ "Excellence in Highway Design 2006". Focus. November 2006.
  8. ^ a b District of Columbia Department of Transportation & June 2008, p. 18.
  9. ^ District of Columbia Department of Transportation & June 2008, p. 15.
  10. ^ Conneen, Mike (April 11, 2014). "Long-Delayed M Street Bike Lane Nearing Completion". WJLA-TV. Retrieved May 4, 2014.


External linksEdit