Georgetown Waterfront Park
Over the weekend, a young child was severely burned when he tripped on a metal plate door on the ground near the waterfront fountain. As you can see from the video, NPS has taken some preliminary steps to eliminate the danger, but until they permanently address the issue, be careful down there and warn your kiddos.
This week on Now and a Long Time Ago, GM heads down to the Georgetown waterfront. Nowadays there is a beautiful and very popular public park. But during much of the 20th century, the waterfront was an industrial sector. And sitting prominently in the middle of that nest of activity was the stately Capital Traction Company Powerhouse.
When it was fully operational, the powerhouse contained twelve boilers that powered five turbo generators. This provided 18,500 kilowatts of electricity, which was distributed out through four substations to the streetcar system…Despite the grandness of this building, it was only used for 23 years. In 1933 it was shut down as part of the Capital Traction Company’s merger with Washington Railway and Electric Company to form the Capital Transit Company. By 1944, the powerhouse was decommission. By 1968 it was demolished.
One of the final challenges that faced those trying to complete the Georgetown waterfront park was that the original foundation of the powerhouse were still there undetected until they started digging. They had to be removed at an expensive cost.
GM loves the waterfront park, but he wishes that the old Capital Traction building were saved. It could have been a great space. Continue reading
Stop by the Georgetown Waterfront Park on a weekend someday soon: it’s completely packed. And no wonder why, it’s an absolutely beautiful park and people are responding well to it. There must have been at least 500 people there on Sunday when GM walked through.
Children are particularly drawn to the fountain:
This year, the final phase of the Georgetown Waterfront Park was opened. This was the result of decades of efforts by residents, businesses, and government agencies. But what few have talked about is how this accomplishment was merely a part of a larger plan, a plan which is still at the heart of several of today’s debates.
The plan is a plan adopted by the National Park Service, and it lays out 30 actions to improve the Potomac waterfront through Georgetown. A surprising amount of these actions have been accomplished over the years. They include the construction of the park itself, many of the elements of the park, the creation of the Capital Crescent Trail, and the creation of Francis Scott Key Park.
Some elements of the plan that never came to fruition are as alive today as issues as they ever were.
The most contentious part of the plan is the establishment of a boating zone. This zone would allow for the construction of boathouses along the Potomac from 34th St. to about a 100 yards west of the Key Bridge. This has come up most recently due to Georgetown University’s plans to build a massive boathouse in this zone, just west of the Washington Canoe Club. G.U. has spent at least $1 million just lobbying for this project. After a long delay, NPS just announced it was reopening the feasibility review.
What’s funny is to see the plan account for the then-possible plan by Clyde’s to build a floating restaurant:
Under the terms of a 35-year lease signed by the District Government a private firm has docking and parking rights for a 200-seat capacity floating restaurant with space for 86 cars. The floating restaurant will be moored between 34th Street and Key Bridge and will be approximately 200-feet long by 50-feet wide. Once the park is developed, parking for the restaurant will be provided under the freeway (See Item 18). Parking will be located between K Street and the Potomac bulkhead on a short-term basis, but the area will become a landscaped park on completion of Item 18 below. The area designated for boathouse facilities (See Item 14), encompasses the restaurant on the basis that should the lessee not proceed with the restaurant plan, or the restaurant be discontinued, the area would then become available for boating facilities.
The restaurant obviously never came to pass, so this land should go back into the boating zone. However, GM would love to see a hybrid building constructed at the north end of the park providing for boating facilities and a restaurant or outdoor cafe. Continue reading