Old historical legends holds that architect Pierre L"Enfant omitted "J" Street from his plans for Washington, D.C., because he dischosen John Jay.

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Published21 January 2000

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Washington, D.C., has no "J" Street because city designer Pierre L"Enfant bore a grudge against Chief Justice John Jay.

Why would certainly L’Enfant bear such ill will in the direction of John Jay? The reason commonly prreadily available is that L’Enfant was upcollection with the controversial Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and also Navigation (more generally recognized as the Jay Treaty) that Jay negotiated with Great Britain in 1794 to resolve several problems in between the 2 nations around matters such as British interference via Amerideserve to shipping, the visibility of British troops in northwestern The United States and Canada, and the settlement of Revolutionary War debts. The treaty was unpopular with many Americans who taken into consideration its terms far too favorable in the direction of Great Britain, and also it was viewed as a betrayal of the French that had actually been the United States’ ally in the time of the Revolutionary War and were now engaged in a war of their very own with Great Britain. L’Enfant, a French-born American resident who had actually taken component in the Revolutionary War, presumably was doubly insulted by the Jay Treaty.

Unfortunately, this intriguing theory drops apart when the chronology of events is considered: L’Enfant was rerelocated from the national capital task by President Washington in beforehand 1792 for refmaking use of to submit to the authority of the commission in charge of the job and thus was off the job as soon as the Jay treaty was still 2 years later on.

Did L’Enfant perhaps have actually various other factors for disliking John Jay (such as Jay’s alleged disapproval of L’Enfant’s design), or can he have borne ill will in the direction of someone else whose name started through the letter ‘J’ (such as Thomas Jefferson)? Possibly, yet L’Enfant’s plans were subject to the scrutiny of a board of commissioners that were unlikely to have enabled an architect’s individual prejudices to intrude on the orderly and sensible layout of the new capital. As well, because L’Enfant was fired by President Washington prior to he had actually a possibility to rotate his plans right into an engraving, the task was completed by Andrew Ellicott, a Baltimore surveyor via no recognized grudge against Jay.

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So, what did take place to J Street? Was it just skipped over by accident?

The disappointingly mundane explacountry is that J Street was most likely omitted sindicate because the letters I and J were often identical from each various other (especially as soon as handwritten), and also in 18th century English they were still greatly interchangeable. (The 1740 “New General English Dictionary” published in London had actually a single section for I and also J, and also the typical identification Thomas Jefferson supplied on his individual possessions was “T.I.”) Having both an “I” and a “J” street would certainly have actually been redundant at ideal and also confutilizing at worst, so “J” finished up as the odd man out.