News & Politics

These Remarkable Photographs Show the Aftermath of DC’s Riots 50 Years Ago

The streets burned following MLK's death, and the events left their mark on Washington for decades to come.

These Remarkable Photographs Show the Aftermath of DC’s Riots 50 Years Ago
A building on fire at 14th and Harvard streets, Northwest, during the 1968 riots. Photograph courtesy of DC Public Library Special Collections.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assasinated on April 4, 1968, riots and looting followed in DC. The four-day-long protests left 13 people killed and over 900 businesses destroyed. Fifty years later, here’s a look back on photographs from a time that would leave its mark on Washington for years to come.

Men run on riot-destroyed streets. Photograph courtesy of Library of Congress.
Troops ride past the White House. Photograph courtesy of Library of Congress.
A soldier stands at the corner of 7th and N streets, Northwest, as a destroyed building sits in the distance. Photograph courtesy the Library of Congress.
Smoke rises over the Capitol while the streets of DC remain empty. Why? An enforced curfew. Photograph courtesy the Library of Congress.
The ruins of destroyed buildings on 7th Street, Northwest. Photograph courtesy the Library of Congress.
A firetruck in front of Peoples Drug Store on 14th Street, Northwest. Beck Shoes is next door. Photograph courtesy of DC Public Library Special Collections.
Men carry food from a food distribution center. Photograph courtesy the Library of Congress.
Troops detain two men. Photograph courtesy the Library of Congress.
Standing guard. Photograph courtesy of Library of Congress.

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.

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