How Salvadoran Immigration Changed the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood in D.C.

Mount Pleasant Neighborhood

Credit: Nuestro Stories

In 1991, one of the most significant events in the history of the United States took place in its capital city, Washington D.C. An event that awakened the Latino and Black communities of Mount Pleasant. 

Mount Pleasant borders Rock Creek Park, with its neoclassical townhouses that housed what was once one of the most diverse communities in the United States. Its population consisted of people from the Black community, Latinos, Filipinos, Indians, and South Koreans, among others. 

From the 1960s and well into the 1980s, the neighborhood saw an influx of Latino immigrants, specifically Salvadorans. At that time, El Salvador was experiencing a civil war that began in 1979 and lasted until 1992. The war and two powerful earthquakes led the U.S. government to receive Salvadorans under a federal program. (Though some may argue that the civil war was fueled by the U.S.)

An event that shook Mount Pleasant

However, on May 5, 1991, the Mount Pleasant neighborhood witnessed one of its most significant riots in Washington, D.C.: A young rookie policewoman shot a Salvadoran immigrant, Daniel Enrique Gomez, in a public park at the corner of 17th and Lamont Streets NW in Mount Pleasant.

The days of tension and violence that ensued led Mayor Sharon Pratt to declare a curfew in Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and Columbia Heights. 

The four days of rioting left cars and buses burned, businesses destroyed, and more than 200 arrests. After those terrible days, the police department came up with new ways to help the Latino community, such as adding bilingual police officers and 911 operators. Also, not questioning their immigration status.

Today, more than half of Mount Pleasant's population is Latino.

Read more: The Beacon Hill School is a Testament to the Power of the People

Things You Should Know Before You Visit:

  • The Mount Pleasant neighborhood was a post-Civil War subdivision of one of the large 19th-century estates in the area.
  • In 1995, a jury rejected Daniel Enrique Gomez's claims that Washington D.C.’s police used excessive force when he was seriously injured.
  • The Don Juan restaurant in Mount Pleasant offers Salvadoran food such as pupusas, corn dough empanadillas filled with pork, cheese, or vegetables.

Address: Roughly bounded by 16th Street, Harvard Street, Adams Mill Road, and Rock Creek Park

Location: Washington, D.C

Experience it here.

Share This Story!

Follow Us

Stay In Touch


By Xxxxx Xxxx

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.