May 17, 2006


There are lots of bars and restaurants in DC in G'town today, but comparatively few in Southwest along the Anacostia. Master planner Pierre L'Enfant would have predicted otherwise.

A very long, sometimes interesting, sometimes not piece in the Financial Times points out that L'Enfant in 1798 chose to put the Navy Yard along the Anacostia, not the Potomac. Southwest had the capitol's best natural harbor, but development failed to take root along DC's second river because the waterway silted up.

"That opened the doors for the south-west waterfront and the historic port of G'town, both facing the Potomac, to become the city's commercial centres, tilting investment west," according to the FT.

This division only deepened in the 20th century, FT went on to say. "Since [the first world war] the south-east waterfront has been inaccessible to the people of Washington because of the river being allowed to become polluted to a degree the Potomac never was; abandoned, derelict sites; and the construction of a freeway right through it," Uwe Brandes, director of planning in the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. explained.

Spurred by the Baseball stadium and the fact that developable land elsewhere is running out, the neighborhoods around the Anacostia waterfront someday could be as dynamic and vital as those near the Potomac, i.e. G'town. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

No comments: