NoMa Street Pole Banners

The NoMa BID places branded banners on street poles along major neighborhood corridors to let drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians know they are in NoMa. With a recent refresh of the banner designs, we are also celebrating the area’s past through historical images. Scroll down to learn more about the photographs we’ve used.

Oak Leaf

The scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea), which is native to the central and eastern U.S., is the official tree of the District of Columbia. Prior to the planning and development of Washington, D.C., the area’s meadows, hills, and valleys would have been covered with thousands of them. (Second design featuring leaves not shown.)

Swampoodle Grounds

In the 1850s, a working-class Irish neighborhood north of Massachusetts Avenue NE and east of North Capitol Street came to be known as “Swampoodle” because of the overflowing Tiber Creek, now piped beneath city streets. This image, circa 1886, shows Swampoodle Grounds, aka Capitol Park, which was the home of the Washington National League baseball team for several years. The Swampoodle neighborhood was removed with the construction of Union Station, which opened in 1907.

Image source: Architect of the Capitol

Lewis Henry Douglass

In 1869, Lewis Henry Douglass (1840–1908), the eldest son of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and a sergeant major during the Civil War, was hired as the first black typesetter at the Government Printing Office in 1869. He also served as assistant marshall of the District of Columbia. This photo, circa 1870, shows him with his wife, Helen Amelia Loguen.

Image source: U.S. National Park Service

Women at GPO (1)

Women worked at the Government Printing Office, established in 1861, from the legislative agency’s earliest days, usually at a lower pay scale than men and in roles that required tedious and repetitive work, such as feeding paper into printers or stitching bound copies.

Image source: U.S. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing

Women at GPO (2)

This image and the previous one, both circa 1912, are from the Harris & Ewing Collection. Harris & Ewing was a D.C. photography studio — and, for a time, news service — that opened in 1905 and closed in 1977. At its peak in the 1930s, it was the largest photo studio in the nation.

Image source: U.S. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing

Earl Lloyd

On October 31, 1950, Alexandria, Va., native Earl Lloyd (1928–2015) became the first black man to play in a National Basketball Association game, for the Washington Capitols. Lloyd would go on to a distinguished sports career and was voted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003. The D.C. basketball team, however, which played its games at Uline Arena (aka Washington Coliseum), folded in 1951, after Lloyd’s first year.

The Beatles

February 11, 1964: A few days after appearing on The Ed Sullivan ShowThe Beatles performed their first public concert in North America, at Uline Arena/Washington Coliseum. It was the largest venue (8,000+ capacity) the Fab Four had played to that point. Over the next two decades, other musical greats — including Bob Dylan, the Temptations, and “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown — would also perform at the venue.

Image source: Associated Press

Graphic Elements

The new NoMa banners have common design elements:

  1. An abstracted NoMa logo overlay.
  2. CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key) color scheme, with two banners for each color. (The abstracted logo also has its own banners.)
  3. halftone treatment of the photographs.

The CMYK and halftone treatments are nods to the neighborhood’s past as a locus of printing activity, including the GPO; the Judd & Detweiler building at Florida Avenue and Eckington Place NE, where National Geographic was once printed, now the home of Sirius XM Radio; and the National Capital Press building at N and 3rd streets NE, soon to be redeveloped as the mixed-use Press House at Union District.

O Street Lot

In conjunction with the new street pole banners, the NoMa BID is also installing 1,100 linear feet of fence banners around the large lot bounded by North Capitol Street and New York Avenue NE. These fence banners expand on the abstracted NoMa logo, CMYK color scheme, and use of historical images. Along the North Capitol Street section of the fence, the banners include a brief timeline of the NoMa neighborhood.