Adolf Cluss, Eleven Inch Swivel Gun, ca. 1860
Adolf Cluss, Eleven Inch Swivel Gun, ca. 1860 (National Archives, WDC)

Washington Navy Yard, 1860s
Washington Navy Yard, lithograph, ca. 1862 (Naval History and Heritage Command, WDC, NH 79896-KN)

Sewers in Washington, constructed 1872/73
Sewers in Washington, constructed 1872/73 (Library of Congress, Geography & Maps Division)

Engineer in Washington DC

Like many architects, Adolf Cluss also advertised himself as a civil engineer. At the Washington Navy Yard in the 1850s and 1860s, Cluss worked on projects such as charting the Anacostia River, and drawing and testing weapons. In 1864, at the request of the City of Washington, Cluss and his partner Josef Wildrich von Kammerhueber wrote a report that recommended narrowing and deepening the Washington City Canal and building a sewer system for the city, setting off a debate that led in 1871 to the creation of a Board of Public Works.

Working for the Board of Public Works as the Building Inspector, Cluss wrote building regulations and introduced the use of building permits and inspections. In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Cluss City Engineer and member of the Board of Public Works. Cluss supervised building sewers, narrowing and paving Washington's unusually wide streets, and overseeing the planning of trees along streets, squares and circles.



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