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Downtown Progress Records

Identifier: 025
Downtown Progress Records in Dig DC
Downtown Progress Records in Dig DC

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, meeting minutes, committee reports, memoranda, legal papers, and general office files of Downtown Progress. Also included are photographs, sketches, maps, architectural drawings, street diagrams, and slides of buildings and streetscapes located in the downtown urban renewal area of Washington, D.C.


  • Creation: 1960-1977


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Downtown Progress, originally known as the National Capital Downtown Committee, was a non-profit organization of businesspeople formed in 1959 to revitalize the area from the United States Capitol to the White House. The downtown urban renewal area was bounded by 5th and 15th Streets NW, and Pennsylvania Avenue to Massachusetts Avenue NW. Among projects promoted by Downtown Progress were the construction of the Metro, the Martian Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, and the F Street Mall. The group also supported the preservation efforts of Ford’s Theatre, the Old Patent Office, Old Post Office and the Willard Hotel. The organization was officially disbanded in 1977 and turned into a public sector of the government known as the National Capital Planning Commission.


51.5 Linear feet

104 Boxes


Series 1: Action Plan, 1 linear ft. (1961-1968)
This series provides background research, drafts, internal memoranda, sketches, meeting notes, and other materials regarding early planning resulting in the Action Plan for Downtown Progress prepared in 1962. Most notable is a discussion draft (not for publication) of the Plan, a joint report by the Washington Post and the Washington Star about the Plan, “Assumptions, Findings and Objectives” for the sketch plan, and the final version of the Plan. The Action Plan was an official publication of the Potomac Valley Chapter, American Institute of Architects. It also contains advisory committee meeting notes and membership lists as well as notes, street diagrams, maps, photographs, and sketches of squares in downtown. Folders are arranged chronologically followed by materials about the advisory committee and then maps and sketches.

Series 2: Board of Directors, 1.25 linear ft. (1960-1977)
The series contains correspondence, reports, internal memoranda, meeting minutes, agendas, testimony and other information used to prepare for the Board of Directors meetings. The folders are arranged chronologically.

Series 3: Annual Membership and Board of Directors Meeting, 2.5 linear ft. (1960-1969)
The series contains materials regarding the annual membership and Board of Directors meeting. It includes Board of Directors meeting minutes, committee reports, statements issued at annual meetings, meeting agendas, photographs, correspondence, and internal memoranda gathered or prepared for the meeting. The folders are arranged chronologically.

Series 4: Annual Reports, .50 linear ft. (1971-1977)
The series contains work folders for Downtown Progress’ annual reports. The folders include the final annual report, “memoranda of contact”, internal memoranda, correspondence, and notes. The folders are arranged chronologically.

Series 5: Committee Files, 9.5 linear ft. (1964-1977)
This series contains standing and ad hoc committee files. Included are committee reports, meeting agendas and minutes, notes, correspondence, and internal memoranda regarding the committees’ work. Committees included in the series are budget review; development, environment, and preservation; executive; facilities; housing and relocation; legislative; nominating, planning, urban renewal, and relocation; transportation and services; zoning and codes. The folders are arranged alphabetically by name of committee with general files first.

Series 6: General Office Files, 8.5 linear ft. (ca. 1960-1977)
This series consists of subject files maintained in Downtown Progress’ offices to track major projects and topics of interest. It includes correspondence, internal memoranda, forms to track telephone calls and meetings, reports, handwritten notes, maps, diagrams, testimony, and legislation. It covers a variety of topics affecting downtown development, including a rezoning study, historic landmark status, a proposed sports arena/convention and civic center, national visitors center at Union Station, transportation issues, Design and Feasibility studies, and the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation. It also contains background materials, public testimony and statements, reports, and internal memoranda/correspondence regarding U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Development Programs for the District proposed by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) beginning in the 1970s, and information about squares slated for development. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title.

Series 7: Legal Documents, 1.75 linear ft. (1971-1977)
The series primarily contains pleadings in a case brought by Businessmen Against Second Year Action Plan (BASYAP) to stop proposed condemnation and redevelopment for certain sections of the downtown urban renewal area. The plaintiffs included 126 downtown business people affected by the Plan who sued the Redevelopment Land Agency, Downtown Progress, NCPC, the City Government, and others in federal court to stop the Plan. It also contains pleadings regarding a case brought against Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for refusal to install a second elevator at the Gallery Place Metro stop in compliance with handicap access laws in the late 1970s.

Series 8: Images, 5.25 linear ft. (ca. 1960-1970)
The series contains photographs, slides and sketches of buildings and street scenes in the Downtown Progress corridor. It is further divided into subseries as follows:

Subseries 1: Photographs and Sketches, 1.5 cu. ft. (ca. 1960s)
Contains photographs from the 1960s before development began in the downtown area as well as a number of photographs of F Street stores and streetscapes. It also contains sketches of buildings, streets, and walkways proposed for the new downtown urban renewal area.

Subseries 2: Slides, 3.75 linear ft. (ca. 1960-1970s)
Consists primarily of slides of buildings located within squares 213-491 and 514-631. They are arranged by address and square. It also contains some slides of F Street stores and streetscapes.

Custodial History

The collection was donated to the Library by Knox Banner, Exective Director of Downtown Progress in May 1977.

Processing Information

Basic archival processing procedures were applied to the collection when it was processed.

Downtown Progress
An inventory of Downtown Progress at DC Public Library
Finding aid prepared by Leroy Graham.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001