Visualizing just how narrow those rowhouses are


City-dwellers are accustomed to tight spaces. Squeezing through a crowded club, trying to jam a queen bed through a basement door or inching into the world’s smallest parking space. It’s just the way it is.

A rarity in Washington: Land for sale.

A rarity in Washington: Land for sale.

Cramped conditions result in creativity. And no place is that more evident in how Washingtonians wedge their lives into 100-year-old buildings that were built for completely different purposes than we use them for now.

There’s a lot of conflicting info out there about the World’s Narrowest House. Like most things, the Internet cannot agree on this topic, but suffice to say it is around a meter or so in width.

While that’s impressive (and stupid), what about just your average narrow Washington rowhouse?

On A Street SE is an amazing rarity in D.C.: Land for sale. The caveat, of course, is that it is a postage stamp. But still, the opportunity exists for someone to build whatever they want here.

Or…can they? Can a house really fit there? When the land is blank like this, it is an optical illusion. The plot of land is the same width as its neighboring houses, but for some reason appears more narrow. I look at this space and am just amazed at how many houses are crammed into D.C., especially in old neighborhoods like Hill East, Shaw and Capitol Hill.

This lot's width? Just under 12 feet.

This lot's width? Just under 12 feet.

So just how narrow is this row of houses? Being the dork I am, I lugged a tape measure out to this lot to find out. The answer: About 11 feet, 6 inches. It’s no wonder there are so many pop-ups on this block: The only way to create more space is to build up.

The Prince of Petworth was on this block a couple months ago: his readers agreed, this street’s pop-ups are not easy on the eyes. Let’s hope whoever buys this land takes note: If you build an ugly house, expect it to get dragged through the mud of the Internet.

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