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Southwest Waterfront Community Guide Real Estate Where old meets new!

Updated 2/28/2023

History and Flavor

History is all around you in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood. Part of Pierre L’Enfant’s original city plans, the Southwest Waterfront contains some of the oldest buildings in the city. The block of Wheat Row townhouses dates back to 1793. 

But in modern times, The Southwest Waterfront is an evolving neighborhood revolving around its marina and District Wharf–a mile-long complex along the Potomac. The area offers something for everyone, featuring the iconic Municipal Fish Market, hotels, and entertainment! 

Though the Southwest Waterfront is mainly residential, you will find theatre, sports, swimming, and golf here. Bounded by Interstate 395 to the north, Washington Channel to the west, the Anacostia River to the south, and South Capitol Street to the east, the Southwest Waterfront lies in Ward 6.

Most of Southwest Waterfront was part of a vast plantation owned by Notley Young. Much of the Young plantation was purchased by Boston venture capitalist James Greenleaf in 1793. He received a discount on 60,000 real estate lots for promising to build ten houses a year on them. Few of those homes were made, and Greenleaf declared bankruptcy in 1797. 

The area became more organized through the Civil War but stayed home to a poorer class of Scottish, Irish, Germans, and African American people. However, the area developed a healthy and thriving commercial district with shopping and entertainment. Some wealthy African Americans owned larger homes, but most lived in tenements and shacks.

Since the 1950s, city planners have been working towards urban renewal. The city used eminent domain to evict nearly all the residents to start from scratch. The new plan called for modern buildings, ample green space, and parking. A few buildings were left, notably the Maine Avenue Fish Market, the Wheat Row townhouses, the Thomas Law House, and the St. Dominic’s and Friendship churches. 

Today, the Southwest Waterfront comprises large co-ops, condos, and townhomes. Most are excellent examples of modern architecture.  It’s a beautiful juxtaposition of old and new!


Music & Parks

  • Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American TheaterFounded in 1950, this multi-space complex hosts diverse American productions. 
  • The WharfA vibrant new waterfront location with countless things to do and see, hear and touch, taste, and experience. And for those who want to linger a while longer, check out our hotels or tour our residences.
  • The AnthemLive music in multiple sister venues.
  • Pearl Street WarehouseRock, country, folk, soul, bluegrass, rhythm, and blues acts from around the country take the stage nightly, offering every seat in the house a front-row music experience. Pearl Street Warehouse requires all patrons to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test result within the previous 72 hours.  
  • 7th Street Park and Fountain at The WharfThe Wharf reestablished Washington, DC, as a waterfront city and destination. This remarkable, mile-long stretch along the Potomac River comes to life with restaurants, retailers, residences, and businesses—all complemented by monumental views and vibrant culture.
  • Union Stage Small, intimate venue for varied live-music performances & a bar with draft beer & pizza.


Popular Shopping and Eats

  • Shop Made in DCA retail initiative whose mission is to grow DC’s makers and artists. It’s the first store dedicated to only Made in DC products. 
  • L’Enfant Plaza showcases a stunning three-story glass gateway entrance, an outdoor square, more retail, and enhanced office space to enliven this popular destination just two blocks from the National Mall in Southwest Washington, D.C. — an area undergoing an exciting waterfront transformation.
  • A Beautiful ClosetLose yourself and walk into the beautiful world of A Beautiful Closet.  Experience the ecstasy of your true discovery in a warm environment that exudes a passion for fashion.
  • Politics and Prose at the Wharf Surrounded by a great assortment of retail, restaurant, and cultural offerings, Politics and Prose at The Wharf carries a wide range of books for everyone and hosts a steady lineup of author events.


Best Public High Schools

Best Public Elementary Schools

Public Transportation


Waterfront Station – subway


M St at Delaware Ave SW – Bus

Half St SW & O St SW – Bus

Median Home Value

$625,000 as of 2023

Renters: 63%

Owners: 37%


Population 14,508

Median household income –  $86,000

Median age: 35

Families with children – 9%

High school diploma or equivalent – 10%

College Degree: 82%

42% White

44% African American

8% Other

6% Hispanic