The Wharf:
A River Story

Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the architect of the nation’s capital, knew a good thing when he saw it. During conversations with President George Washington, he described this part of DC as a “magnificent waterfront entranceway.” A lot has happened since then. Through the 1850s, the waterfront developed into an important maritime community. The coal, ice and lumber trades built warehouses, giving the waterfront its industrial character. But in the 1860s, during the Civil War, commercial activity all came to a halt—the space was needed by the military.

Fast forward to 1881, when Congress voted to make vast improvements to the area around the Municipal Fish Market. Over the next four decades, construction included new piers, food markets, marinas and yacht clubs. In the 1950s, much of Southwest was redeveloped with nothing much changing over the ensuing 50 years. Then, at the turn of the new millennium, DC rediscovered its waterfront with the formation of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. Finally, there were plans to create the kind of grand waterfront a capital city deserves.

In 2006, the team that is now Hoffman-Madison Waterfront was selected from over 16 other applicants as the master developer for the Southwest Waterfront. The area’s history has inspired big plans for The Wharf, with stylish residences, restaurants, shops, hotels, parks and engaging cultural spaces. A bright new chapter has begun.