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.