The Boss of D.C.

The rise and fall of Washington Visionary Alexander “Boss” Shepherd.

By Donna Evers

Shepherd's Row, on the corner of K and 12th Streets, in 1909.

Shepherd's Row, on the corner of K and 12th Streets, in 1909.

When the Civil War ended in 1865, Washington doubled in size with a population of 109,000 and no real infrastructure. The roads were mud ruts, there was no running water or sewers and few street lights. The situation was so bad that there was a growing lobby in Congress to move the capitol to St. Louis, Missouri. But a powerful and influential man by the name of Alexander Robey Shepherd got Congress to make the District a territory with an appointed governor and a board of public works to correct the problem. Shepherd got himself appointed to the board, and lost no time in taking over the project.

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