Southwest (May 25, 2022)
Today, we explored Southwest DC with our friends Jon and Elissa who live in the neighborhood in the River Park development. Designed by renowned mid-century modern architect, Charles M. Goodman, in the 1960s, River Park was one of the first developments in Washington D.C. to be racially integrated. The units, with their barrel-shaped roofs and aluminum trim, are decidedly futuristic. Walking among them, we also felt they would be right at home in Copenhagen or Berlin or some other northern European city.
Right across the street from River Park are some of the District’s oldest residential buildings. Wheat Row is a row of four late Georgian style townhouses that were built in 1794-1795.
One of the joys of these walks is coming across surprising memorials. The Titanic Memorial, standing next to the Washington Channel, was erected by the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association and was unveiled in 1931. It was designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and sculpted by John Horrigan. It is dedicated to the men who perished on the sinking ship so that the women and children on the ship could survive.
Decidedly more quirky, was this sculpture of a bird made out of discarded plastic bottles. It was sitting outside the Matthew Henson Earth Conservation Center. Henson was an African-American explorer who accompanied Robert Peary on seven voyages to the Arctic. He is best known for his participation in the 1908-1909 exhibition that claimed to have reached the geographic North Pole on April 6, 1909.
We walked down toward Buzzard Point where the Anacostia River meets the Potomac River. Much of the point is occupied by Fort Lesley J. McNair. The fort has been an army post for more than 200 years and is named for a general who was killed in action by friendly fire in Normandy, France, during World War II. Among its historic claims to fame is the fact that four of the conspirators accused of assassination Abraham Lincoln were hanged on the premises, including Mary Surratt, the first woman ever to be executed under federal orders. Today, the fort’s tenants include the National Defense University, the Inter-American Defense College, and the United States Army Center of Military History. The fort is surrounded by the long high brick wall and photos are forbidden.
For much of the twentieth century and into the twenty first, Buzzard Point was a light industrial area with construction, demolition and fuel companies dominating the waterfront. However, like much of Southwest, it is now undergoing a transformation. Audi Field, the home of DC United, the District’s professional soccer team, opened in 2018. We were actually at the first-ever match held at the field, which ended in a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps before a sellout crowd of just over 20,000 spectators. Starring for DC United was Wayne Rooney, the iconic English player.
At the tip of Buzzard Point, overlooking the confluence of the two rivers, is a new development, which includes a great restaurant called where we enjoyed a very pleasant lunch. Aptly, its name is The Point D.C.
Not much more than a baseball’s throw or a soccer ball’s kick from Audi Field is Nationals Park, the home of the Washington Nationals, Washington D.C.s major league baseball team. The stadium, with a capacity of 41,339 opened for play in 2008.
The stadium has attracted a lot of development, with new buildings and restaurants and bars, springing up around it on an almost daily basis.
Also recently opened, is the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge with its elegant arches. It is a fitting memorial for Douglass, the African-American social reformer and abolitionist, whose home was just across the bridge in Anacostia.
Near Nationals Park we passed by this church offering a Nats Mass. The team could certainly use some help. They are currently one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball.
Washington is a city of back alleyways. This is one of the most attractive that we have come across, lined as it was with trees.