Bladensburg Archaeology

Bladensburg History

Photo of historic Bladensburg

In October 1742, the Maryland legislature voted to create the town of Bladensburg on the east side of the Anacostia River (Eastern Branch).  They named the new Prince George’s County port for Thomas Bladen, who had become governor in that year.  As they had done for several of Maryland’s other incorporated towns, lawmakers required a certain amount of investment on the part of those who wished to settle one of the 60 town lots.  New property owners, called “Takers-up” in the bill, were required “within Eighteen Months after taking up … [to] build and finish…one good, substantial, and tenantable House with one Brick or Stone Chimney thereto, that shall cover 400 square Ft of Ground”. Takers-up who failed to build in the allotted time would lose their stake and the lot could be resold with proceeds going to the town commissioners.

The effort to legislate an urban landscape was successful and Bladensburg became a significant colonial port town shipping millions of tons of tobacco to Glasgow. The closing of the port in 1840 due to siltation of the river, coupled with the railroad being located outside of the town in 1833, caused the area’s gradual decline.  By the 20th century, Bladensburg served as a working class suburb to Washington DC. Over the last 30 years, this community has become invigorated with the restoration of the Anacostia River waterfront park and the historic preservation movements now led by the Amman Memorial Trust and Prince George’s Heritage Inc.

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