Embassy Row is a section of Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest between Scott Circle and the North side of the United States Naval Observatory. Embassies, diplomatic missions and other diplomatic representations are concentrated there and onto the nearby streets.
Considered Washington’s premier residential area in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, Massachusetts Avenue gained a reputation for its numerous elaborate mansions that housed the city’s political and social elite. The Great Depression, following the stock market crash of 1929, cause many of these homes to be sold. The estates proved to be ideal for use as embassies, social club lodges and diplomatic offices.
In the early years of Washington, D.C., Lafayette Square housed most of the diplomats and ambassadors. In 1872, Sir Edward Thornton built the United Kingdom’s embassy on 1300 Connecticut Avenue, just south of Embassy Row. This choice of location and purpose driven building can be considered the origin of Embassy Row as a diplomatic neighborhood.