Re: abandoned or emptied
"Over the river" here means "on the other side of the Potomac River". I would assume that the writer's location for most of that piece was on one side of the Potomac River but when he did find somewhere to rent, it turned out to be on the other side of the river from where he was. Even if there were a road over a river, it's unlikely that houses would be built on that road.
"Abandoned" is fine. It can still be owned by someone, they have just let it fall into disrepair and it probably needs a lot of work but it's still abandoned.
Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.