Our nation’s founders decided to build their new capital city on a square of land at the confluence of two rivers — the Potomac and the Anacostia. In the years since, the Potomac has been acclaimed as “the Nation’s River.” The Anacostia, however, has been known by less illustrious nicknames: “the forgotten river,” or simply “one of the most polluted rivers in the United States.”
Now D.C. is rediscovering the long-neglected waterway. Rowers, kayakers and stand-up paddlers are taking to the river, after years of dedicated cleanup efforts and a multi-billion-dollar sewer upgrade that just went online. Some of the fanciest new development in the District is sprouting up on the banks of the Anacostia, too.
This comes after decades of underinvestment in the river and the neighborhoods around it, where mostly poor, black residents have suffered the effects of pollution.