Thing to Do

Explore the Georgetown Waterfront

River, park and city skyline below a cloudy sky
Georgetown Waterfront Park

NPS Photo

Explore the Georgetown Waterfront!  

The area has gone through many changes--from Native American village to industrial hub to recreational green space.

Start your visit at Thompson Boat Center and look for the C&O Canal's Mile Marker 0. Near this site, George Gordon ran a tobacco trading warehouse before Georgetown was established.  

Walk along the boardwalk and imagine large, wooden ships powered by sail instead of the smaller, modern gas-powered vessels of today that might be tied up along the dock.

Georgetown Waterfront Park--now a beautiful green space--was once an area packed with mills and industrial complexes. In the 1980s and 1990s a parking lot stretched between the buildings of the Harbour complex towards Key Bridge. Georgetown Waterfront park has lots of seating to watch water craft and birds.  

Marble slabs overlooking the waterfront are etched with images that share the waterfront's past. 

Take a walk through the labyrinth---contemplate the changes the waterfront has undergone. What's your favorite part?

The Potomac River became too shallow for the ocean-going vessels to navigate. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was dug to help bypass the shallow waters and rapids of the Potomac River as well as the impassable section at Great Falls. When shipping by boat became obsolete, the rail road kept trains in the waterfront and it was used by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for many years. The waterfront was also occupied by many businesses, mills and large industrial warehouses that used the waters of the Potomac River to drive the equipment.  

Continue your exploration under the eleveated Whitehurst Freeway and take in the graceful archways beneath Key Bridge. Keep an eye out for the Aqueduct Bridge that used to carry canal boats from the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to the Alexandria Canal on the other side of the Potomac.
Details
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
The Georgetown Waterfront stretches from the Thompson Boat Center to Key Bridge.
Accessibility Information
The Georgetown Waterfront is accessible by a wide paved easement between the businesses of the Washington Harbour complex and the boardwalk along the river. Wide paved pathways cross Georgetown Waterfront Park

Waterfront Changes

A black and white image showing buildings crowded around the waterfront A black and white image showing buildings crowded around the waterfront

Left image
Georgetown Waterfront in 1909

Right image
Georgetown Waterfront circa 2008
Credit: NPS Photo

All Along the Waterfront

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    Last updated: February 21, 2021