Originally part of the Holmead family estate called "Pleasant Plains", Columbia Heights was part of Washington County, District of Columbia. Thus it was within the District but outside the borders of the city of Washington. The southern edge of Columbia Heights is Florida Ave (today) which was originally called "Boundary Street" because it formed the northern boundary of the Federal City.
Construction of Columbian College began in Columbia Heights in 1822. Columbian College was the foundation of what would develop into George Washington University. Columbian College was originally located inbetween 14th and 15th Street. Columbia Heights would take it's name (originally retaining the Pleasant Plains name) from the existence of Columbian College in the area.
Senator Sherman's Columbia Heights
In 1878, Congress passed the DC Organic Act of 1878, which eliminated Washington County by extending the boundaries of Washington City to be contiguous with those of the District of Columbia. Shortly afterward, in 1881-82, Senator John Sherman purchased the land north of Boundary Street between 16th and 10th Street, developing it as a subdivision of the city called Columbia Heights. Much of Sherman's purchase was of Columbian College's land, which it sold off in order to purchase a tract in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, where it relocated in 1884 and was renamed George Washington University.
Sherman Avenue (1921)
The neighborhood's eastern boundary and major traffic artery, Sherman Avenue, was named after the early developer, Senator John Sherman, the author of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Meridian Hill Park
The federal government also purchased some of the college's land and built Meridian Hill Park in the early 20th century. The park, also known as "Malcolm X Park", contains many statues including those of Joan of Arc, Dante and James Buchanan.