The Board of Trade has a long history of shaping the Greater Washington economy. Originally called the Board of Trade of the District of Columbia, it was founded in 1889 after The Washington Post ran an editorial entitled “A Board of Trade Wanted,” calling for local business and civic leaders to organize in support of the city’s interests. This included better advocacy to the U.S. Federal Government, which governed the District until 1974.

Washington Post Opinion on Board of Trade

In 1959, organization leaders changed the name to the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade to reflect the organization’s area-wide vision. In 1979, the organization became the Greater Washington Board of Trade and adopted the three-circle logo still in use today representing northern VA, DC, and suburban MD.

Some major accomplishments that involved significant Board of Trade organizing, planning, and advocacy include:

  • Drafting of the original street extension plan for the national capital, which is still in effect today
  • Consolidating the railway system around Union Station
  • Achievement of full voting representation for D.C. in Congress (1917)
  • Initiating D.C. subway development in the 1930s
  • Lobbying Congress to create parks along the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, as well as Rock Creek Park, Haines Point, and the Tidal Basin
  • Creation of the National Capital Planning Commission
  • Construction of Dulles and Washington National Airports, The Kennedy Center, RFK Stadium, and the Washington Convention Center

For more highlights from the Board of Trade’s history, read our blog series:

1889-1929: Envisioning a World Class City

1930-1959: Mitigating Crises and Seizing Opportunities

1960-1989: A Sharper Focus on Community Needs

1990-2019: Thinking Globally, Acting Regionally

The Board of Trade’s historical records are kept at the George Washington University Gelman Library’s Special Collection Research Center.

Greater Washington Initiative

The Board of Trade founded the Greater Washington Initiative (GWI) in the 1990s to attract businesses from other parts of the country and the world. Board of Trade staff and members traveled to other metro areas, from Silicon Valley to London, to make the case for business expansion in the D.C. region. GWI has marketed the region as an optimum location to live and conduct business, thereby spurring economic growth and job opportunities.

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