Washington, D.C. is in the midst of major change — its population is growing, new high-rise buildings can be seen across the city, and the homicide rate is at historic lows. But 25 years ago, dealers sold crack at hundreds of open-air drug markets, addiction swept across entire neighborhoods, and the city came to be known as the "Nation's Murder Capital." In this five-part series, WAMU 88.5 explores the legacy of that era and how D.C. continues to grapple with an epidemic that affected families, neighborhoods, politicians, policemen, and schools.
For years, powdered cocaine was D.C.'s drug of choice, but when crack hit the streets, the city was afflicted by levels of addiction and violence that caught residents, police and politicians by surprise. Read more »
As D.C.'s police and politicians responded to the crack epidemic, the man charged with leading the fight — Mayor Marion Barry — became a user himself. Read more »
Crack's allure was so powerful that families were torn apart and mothers were driven to abandon their children. Read More »
As the crack epidemic spread, residents of neighborhoods like Shaw found themselves in the middle of bloody turf battles — many waged by young men who felt they had nothing to lose. Read More »
When crack-related violence engulfed D.C. neighborhoods, churches and civic groups didn't take cover — they led the charge in the fight against addiction and death. Read more »
In 1989, Michele Norris wrote about Dooney Waters, a six-year-old whose mother was a crack addict. His story became an emblem of the impact the crack epidemic had on families. Read more »
In this video we hear from the reporters who worked on "Crack: The Drug That Consumed The Nation's Capital," WAMU 88.5's five-part series on the crack epidemic that swept D.C. in the 1980s and 90s. Watch it »