This week for Now and a Long Time Ago, GM returns to the fantastic Wymer’s collection and picks a photo of the old Georgetown waterfront. It was taken from the banks of the Potomac slightly down river, across from where the Watergate is now.
While there are a bunch of buildings along the Georgetown waterfront in the picture, the one with two tall smokestacks stands out. That’s the Capital Traction Powerhouse. It truly was a marvelous building and it’s a shame they tore it down in 1968:
As GM wrote about the building a while back:
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. The interior was as grand as the exterior.
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.
Although this building would have anchored the waterfront way better than the tacky Washington Harbour does, we can at least agree that the waterfront park itself is a pretty good consolation.