What Washington, D.C.'s immigrant population looked like in 1900

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June 27, 2022
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What Washington, D.C.'s immigrant population looked like in 1900

Though every city in the U.S. has a distinctly American flavor, so many metropolitan areas display distinct signs of the immigrant populations that melded together to make the cities we know and love today. From Miami’s Little Havana to New York City’s Chinatown and Los Angeles’ Little Italy, cultural enclaves continue to thrive in modern metropolitan areas and help build colorful and diverse communities.

Many cultural and ethnic enclaves have become destinations for locals and tourists alike, but these visitors bring with them a mixed bag of consequences. On one hand, increased foot traffic allows small businesses and restaurants more opportunities for business, ushering in much-appreciated cash flow. On the other hand, rising demand for goods and services can cause prices to rise, hiking up the cost of living and potentially pushing poorer individuals and families out of the community.

The gentrification of ethnic enclaves is not new. The term “gentrification” was coined by Ruth Glass in the 1960s to describe the displacement of working class folks in London, but the first examples of gentrification can be traced back to the 18th century when wealthy landowners, or the “gentry,” began buying out small farmers who were struggling to accumulate the capital necessary to operate in England.

Today, ethnic enclaves continue to thrive despite the looming threats of gentrification and economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. As one step towards understanding the history of these enclaves, ​​Stacker compiled a list of the largest sources of immigrants in Washington, D.C. in 1900 by transcribing a previously untranscribed dataset from the U.S. Census Bureau. Table 35 of the Twelfth Census details the immigrant population of every city in the U.S. with at least 25,000 inhabitants as of the turn of the last century.

Read on to find out more about the historical immigrant community in your home city or explore the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

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#1. Ireland

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 6,220
- Percent of foreign born residents: 30.92%
National
- Number of residents: 1,619,409
- Percent of foreign born residents: 15.48%
- #2 most common country of origin
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#2. Germany

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 5,857
- Percent of foreign born residents: 29.11%
National
- Number of residents: 2,669,164
- Percent of foreign born residents: 25.52%
- #1 most common country of origin
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#3. England

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 2,299
- Percent of foreign born residents: 11.43%
National
- Number of residents: 843,491
- Percent of foreign born residents: 8.06%
- #4 most common country of origin
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#4. Italy

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 980
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.87%
National
- Number of residents: 484,703
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.63%
- #6 most common country of origin
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#5. Canada

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 906
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.50%
National
- Number of residents: 1,183,225
- Percent of foreign born residents: 11.31%
- #3 most common country of origin
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#6. Russia

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 807
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.01%
National
- Number of residents: 424,372
- Percent of foreign born residents: 4.06%
- #7 most common country of origin
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#7. Scotland

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 574
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.85%
National
- Number of residents: 234,699
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.24%
- #11 most common country of origin
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#8. China

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 417
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.07%
National
- Number of residents: 106,659
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.02%
- #16 most common country of origin
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Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#9. France

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 389
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.93%
National
- Number of residents: 104,534
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.00%
- #18 most common country of origin
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#10. Switzerland

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 244
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.21%
National
- Number of residents: 115,959
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.11%
- #15 most common country of origin
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#11. Sweden

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 234
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.16%
National
- Number of residents: 574,625
- Percent of foreign born residents: 5.49%
- #5 most common country of origin
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#12. Austria

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 187
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.93%
National
- Number of residents: 276,702
- Percent of foreign born residents: 2.65%
- #10 most common country of origin
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Minnesota Historical Society // Getty Images

#13. Poland

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 132
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.66%
National
- Number of residents: 383,595
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.67%
- #8 most common country of origin
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#14. Norway

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 101
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.50%
National
- Number of residents: 338,426
- Percent of foreign born residents: 3.24%
- #9 most common country of origin
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#15. West Indies (except Cuba and Puerto Rico)

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 91
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.45%
National
- Number of residents: 14,468
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.14%
- #26 most common country of origin
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#16. Turkey

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 89
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.44%
National
- Number of residents: 9,949
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
- #30 most common country of origin
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#17. Denmark

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 88
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.44%
National
- Number of residents: 154,616
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.48%
- #13 most common country of origin
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#18. Wales

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 82
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.41%
National
- Number of residents: 93,744
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.90%
- #20 most common country of origin
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#19. South America

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 49
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.24%
National
- Number of residents: 4,814
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.05%
- #35 most common country of origin
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#20. Hungary

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 48
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.24%
National
- Number of residents: 145,815
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.39%
- #14 most common country of origin
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#21. Cuba

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 43
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.21%
National
- Number of residents: 11,159
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.11%
- #28 most common country of origin
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Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#22. Holland

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 42
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.21%
National
- Number of residents: 105,098
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.00%
- #17 most common country of origin
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#23. Mexico

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 38
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.19%
National
- Number of residents: 103,445
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.99%
- #19 most common country of origin
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#24. Greece

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 34
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.17%
National
- Number of residents: 8,655
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- #31 most common country of origin
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#25. Central America

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 32
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.16%
National
- Number of residents: 3,911
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.04%
- #36 most common country of origin
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#26. Belgium

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 32
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.16%
National
- Number of residents: 29,848
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.29%
- #24 most common country of origin
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#27. Spain

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 31
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.15%
National
- Number of residents: 7,284
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.07%
- #33 most common country of origin
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#28. Asia (except China, Japan, and India)

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 29
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.14%
National
- Number of residents: 11,928
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.11%
- #27 most common country of origin
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#29. Africa

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 26
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.13%
National
- Number of residents: 2,577
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- #40 most common country of origin
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#30. Born at sea

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 21
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
National
- Number of residents: 8,310
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.08%
- #32 most common country of origin
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Universal History Archive // Getty Images

#31. Australia

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 19
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.09%
National
- Number of residents: 7,041
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.07%
- #34 most common country of origin
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#32. Finland

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 14
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.07%
National
- Number of residents: 63,440
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.61%
- #22 most common country of origin
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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#33. India

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 12
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.06%
National
- Number of residents: 2,069
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- #42 most common country of origin
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FPG // Getty Images

#34. Bohemia

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 12
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.06%
National
- Number of residents: 156,999
- Percent of foreign born residents: 1.50%
- #12 most common country of origin
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Historical // Getty Images

#35. Japan

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 11
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.05%
National
- Number of residents: 81,590
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.78%
- #21 most common country of origin
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#36. Europe (not otherwise specified)

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 7
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
National
- Number of residents: 2,272
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- #41 most common country of origin
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#37. Other countries

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 6
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
National
- Number of residents: 2,587
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.02%
- #39 most common country of origin
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#38. Portugal

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 6
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
National
- Number of residents: 37,144
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.36%
- #23 most common country of origin
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Historical // Getty Images

#39. Atlantic Islands

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 6
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
National
- Number of residents: 10,955
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.10%
- #29 most common country of origin
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David RUBINGER // Getty Images

#40. Roumania

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 2
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 15,043
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.14%
- #25 most common country of origin
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#41. Pacific Islands (except Phillipine Islands)

Washington, District of Columbia
- Number of residents: 2
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.01%
National
- Number of residents: 2,659
- Percent of foreign born residents: 0.03%
- #38 most common country of origin

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