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Part 6

History Part 6

The Land Company's first task was to connect the new subdivision with Washington. Newlands privately launched the construction of Connecticut Avenue far beyond the improved streets of the city into the rugged countryside to the north, following the route of land Newlands had purchased. Workers excavated more than five miles of roadbed and bridged ravines, and constructed a series of deep cuts and fills. Much of this was done using pick-and-shovel and horse-drawn carts. Trestle bridges were constructed over Rock Creek at Calvert Street and at Klingle Valley (Klingle Street) in 1891. The expense of the entire project was borne by the Land Company.

At the same time, the company constructed an electric railway at an initial cost of $1.5 million. The Chevy Chase Land Company allied itself with the fledgling Rock Creek Railway Company, with Newlands as its president and principal stockholder. Officers of this new corporation were identical to those of the Land Company. The first segment of the line opened in 1892, and the rest soon thereafter. On May 31, 1903, the Washington Post reported that streetcars made the six-mile run from the Treasury at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue to Chevy Chase in exactly 35 minutes, leaving every 15 minutes.

At the northern terminus of the line, two miles beyond Chevy Chase Circle, the Land Company built a small lake and an amusement park to lure prospective buyers. Pleasure-seekers flocked to Chevy Chase Lake on the trolley for concerts at the bandstand, which was a giant blue seashell covered with hundreds of twinkling lights. They rowed on the lake for five cents a half hour, bowled, rode the carousel and live ponies, tested their skills at the shooting gallery, and danced the two-step at the dance pavilion.

The first section of the new suburb to be laid out was just north of Chevy Chase Circle in Maryland, a section that is known today as Chevy Chase Village. Plans included broad streets, large lots, and parkland. Strict building regulations and covenants governed what future residents could build. Houses fronting upon Connecticut Avenue were to cost not less than $5,000 each, and on other streets not less than $3,000. Houses constructed on Connecticut required a setback of 35 feet; and on side streets, 25 feet. No lot could be less than 60 feet wide. Alleys, apartments, and rowhouses were forbidden, and no business was to be conducted in the section; other areas were set apart for that purpose. Stables and carriage houses were not to be erected within 25 feet of the front line of any lot. Similar restrictions were enacted in other sections developed later by the Land Company.

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