Emerging from master planner Pierre L'Enfant’s District plan, Southwest DC began largely as an industrial shipyard, with fishermen selling directly off their boats until the Municipal Fish Market was established. In the years that followed, Southwest DC grew into a bustling community with commercial corridors along 4th and 7th Streets. It became a neighborhood for the District's working class immigrants and, after the Civil War, a home for a significant number of African Americans.

The neighborhood population peaked around 1905 with 35,000 residents. Unfortunately, a number of problems – including the community’s industrial character and an undesirable building stock – led to the community’s decline and ultimately to its label as a blighted neighborhood. Given the issues that plagued the community, Southwest was targeted for inclusion in the federal government’s urban renewal program. Beginning in 1954, Southwest was essentially torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. A traumatic time in the history of Southwest DC, approximately 23,000 residents and 1,500 businesses were displaced to make way for the redevelopment. As the neighborhood was rebuilt, the distinctive architectural style of the time took hold. To this day, Southwest remains an exemplar of mid-century modern architecture.

In the years that followed, Southwest became known as a quiet and under-realized quadrant with a quaint residential neighborhood along the waterfront and a significant federal government footprint in Southwest Federal Center. It wasn’t until the 2000’s that the development boom occurring in D.C. reached Southwest; including a redesigned Arena Stage, the new Waterfront Station complex, and the groundbreaking of the Wharf.                

                        -Adapted from the SW Small Area Plan


Community Groups 

Friends of Southwest DC supports non-profit organizations in SW DC by making small grants for educational, community development and charitable programs.

Friends of Southwest Library is the civic arm of the Southwest Library that works to support the library and its members with book sales throughout the year.

PAWS of Southwest is a nonprofit working to build community around a shared love of dogs.

The Southwester is the official newspaper of SWNA staffed by volunteer writers.

Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) is a private, non-profit citizens’ organization. 

SW Community Gardens at Lansburg Park grows food for volunteers and the neighborhood. New volunteers are always welcome.

The Southwest Community Foundation (SWCF) was established in 2015 by residents of near Southwest to provide a formal means for improving the quality of life in the quadrant through philanthropic giving.

The Waterfront Gateway Neighborhood Association is an affiliation of eight home owners' associations representing nearly 900 households, and over 1,900 residents in the area immediately south of the National Mall.

The Waterfront Village Association offers services to older Southwest D.C. residents including home maintenance, assistance with shopping and medical appointments, health and fitness counseling, and social events. 

To be added to this list, please contact us.

Elected Officials

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D
ANC 6D represents the political, social and economic interests of Southwest D.C. Monthly meetings are typically held at 7:00 pm on the second Monday of each month.

Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6
Charles Allen is the Ward 6 Councilmember for the District of Columbia. 

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is a Delegate to the United State Congress, representing the District of Columbia.  

Getting Here

By Car

  • There are over ten parking garages in and around Southwest D.C. To view these spaces, visit Parking Panda.

By Bike

  • Southwest D.C. is bike-friendly, with multiple Capital Bikeshare stations in neighborhood.

By Bus


By Rail

By Water

  • Dock at The Wharf - From the Potomac River, travel north on the Washington Channel to arrive at the Southwest Waterfront. Check with The Wharf's marinas for availability and docking fees. The Wharf's Coordinates are N 38° 52.600’ / W 077° 01.334’.

  • Water Taxi - The water taxi arrives and departs from The Wharf’s Transit Pier and travels to Georgetown in DC, Old Town Alexandria and the National Harbor in the spring.

  • Wharf Jitney - Take the free Wharf Jitney from Recreation Pier to East Potomac Park. The Jitney has daily service from April - November, weekend and holidays only March - December.