Much of what is now Ward 8 was farmland during the early history of Washington, DC, and a rural character is still sometimes evident among the houses, apartment buildings and institutions of the ward. The historic Anacostia neighborhood is the oldest in the ward, having been founded as Uniontown, one of Washington’s first suburbs, in 1854. It has a variety of wood frame and brick houses and townhouses, as well as grander homes such as Cedar Hill, the Frederick Douglass House (pictured at right). Further south is the neighborhood of Congress Heights, which has the largest commercial area in the ward, which runs along Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X Avenues, as well as a number of garden apartments and single-family bungalows. Washington Highlands is located further south, and is home to many apartment complexes, as well as new single-family homes at Walter Washington Estates.
The neighborhood of Bellevue sits at the far southern end of the District, and has many garden apartments, one high-rise apartment building and some 1940's era detached homes with yards. Ward 8 also has several large federal and local institutions. Bolling Air Force Base, for example, is in many ways a small town of its own, stretching along the Anacostia riverfront. Saint Elizabeths Hospital is a large campus with sweeping views of the city. The Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant and DC Village both take up significant acreage at the southern tip of the city. The Ward has some of the district's largest green spaces, including Oxon Run Park, Fort Stanton, Anacostia Park, and Shepard Parkway.
Planning in Ward 8
Neighborhood and Corridor Plans in Ward 8:
- Anacostia Waterfront Initiative: a planning initiative focused on the Anacosta Wafterfront- a planning process spanning over 30 years.
- CHASE Action Agenda: a planning initiative focused on the Congress Heights, Anacostia, and Saint Elizabeths' areas, completed in 2014.
- CHASE Pattern Book and Design Guidelines: a design reference guide of local housing typologies, and construction advice, completed in 2014
- Draft Congress Heights Small Area Plan: Draft Congress Heights Small Area Plan for public review and comment
- Saint Elizabeths Master Plan: a master plan to guide the redevelopment of the Saint Elizabeths campus, completed in 2012.
- Saint Elizabeth's East Redevelopment Framework Plan: Redevelopment Framework Plan, Council Approved 2008
- Saint Elizabeths Innovation Hub: a strategic plan for a new innovation hub on the Saint Elizabeths campus, completed in 2010.
- Bellevue Small Area Plan: completed in 2010.
- Congress Heights Neighborhood Investment Plan: a prioritized investment plan completed in 2008.
- Anacostia Neighborhood Investment Plan: a prioritized investment plan completed in 2008
- Anacostia-Transit Area Strategic Investment and Development Plan: A planning initiative focused on catalyzing new development around the Anacostia Metrorail Station and other transportation improvements, completed in 2006.
- Barry Farm/Park Chester/Wade Road Redevelopment Plan: a planning initiative for Barry Farm under the New Communities program, completed in 2006.