Southwest Waterfront of Washington, D.C.

The Redevelopment of Washington's Prime Waterfront Area

••• © Miller Taylor

The Southwest Waterfront of Washington, D.C. is a 47-acre site along the Washington Channel, stretching from the historic Fish Wharf to Ft. McNair. The Southwest Waterfront was part of Pierre L'Enfant's original city plan. Over the years the area evolved into a multi-ethnic working-class community that suffered gradual decline. In 1950, the neighborhood was part of an urban renewal plan that included realigning the streets and building the Southeast/Southwest Freeway.

In recent years, the waterfront area became home to marinas, restaurants and a few popular nightclubs. Southwest is the smallest quadrant of the city and the area has been underutilized and was isolated from the rest of the city until 2017 when the Wharf transformed the waterfront area.

Southwest Waterfront Redevelopment

With a prime location along the Potomac River and excellent access to the National Mall and downtown, the Southwest Waterfront was ideally situated to be transformed into a vibrant world class urban community. Plans are underway to redevelop the area into a mixed-use development with approximately 3 million square feet of residential, office, hotel, retail, cultural, and more than eight acres of parks and open space including a waterfront promenade and public piers. The waterfront was renamed, The District Wharf, simply referred to as the Wharf.  The first phase of the development opened in October 2017.

Future development is expected to continue for several years. Read more about the Wharf development.

Getting to the Southwest Waterfront

Located adjacent to I-395, the Southwest Waterfront is easy to get to by car as well as by public transportation. See a map and driving directions.  

By Metro: The closest Metro station is Waterfront, located one block East of Arena Stage
at 4th and M Streets.

For more information, see a Guide to Using the Washington, D.C. Metrorail.

By Metrobus: A42, A46, A48, 74, V7, V8, 903, and D300 bus lines. For information about using Washington's bus service, see A Guide to Washington Metrobus

By Bike - Capital Bikeshare - Bike kiosks are located at 6th and Water St. SW and 4th and M St SW.

Points of Interest on the Southwest Waterfront

  • Maine Avenue Fish Market - The local landmark is the oldest continuously operating fish market in the United States, dating back to 1805.
  • Gangplank Marina - The facility offers 309 boat slips and serves as the departure point for Odyssey Cruises and Spirit Cruises. The waterfront restaurant and bar, Cantina Marina offers casual dining on the Washington Channel.
  • Washington Marina - The marina has served boaters since 1951 and is home to many house boats and public slips. Capital Yacht Charters offers cruises from the marina.
  • Arena Stage - The theater kicked off the revitalization of the neighborhood, completing a $135 million renovation in 2010.
  • Thomas Law House - Built in 1796, the property was the home of Thomas Law and Elizabeth Parke Custis, oldest granddaughter of Martha Washington.

The Southwest Waterfront is one of many areas of the nation's capital that is rapidly developing.

To learn more about changes in the city, see a guide to Urban Development in Washington, D.C.