Anacostia History

The area known as Anacostia is often confused with the entire area touching the Anacostia River. In reality, it is much smaller than that. Anacostia is located in the 8th Ward of DC. It it bordered on the Anacostia River.

Amongst the 71,000 residents in the greater Anacostia area, there is a sense of community. Many residents are proud to have lived in Anacostia for their entire lives. The streets look much like they did 50 years ago with frame row houses and apartments that are mostly Italianate and Cottage style. There are commercial areas around Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue which is called Downtown Anacostia.

Most of the homes in Anacostia and surrounding East of the River communities including Fairlawn, Barry Farm, Congress Heights, Randle Heights, Deanwood, Hillcrest, Hill East and SE Waterfront were built in the late 19th or early 20th century.  The neighborhoods have good mixes of brick rowhouses and wood-framed detached homes, primarily in the Italianate, Cottage, or Washington Row House architectural styles.



Anacostia’s history travels back to the early 17th Century when Captain John Smith arrived at the area and stumbled upon Nacotchtanke, the Native American Trading Village. The people of the area, the Nacotchtanks, were fisherman and farmers that occupied the land bordering the Anacostia River. After this point, Europeans were encouraged to migrate here for the fertile land.

In the 19th Century, Frederick Douglass called Anacostia home. Douglas was known for buying the “Cedar Hill” estate in 1877 where he lived until he died; it is now a tourist destination.

Anacostia was designed with business and trade in mind, due to its proximity to the river. Up until the 1950’s there were still areas of Anacostia that were segregated, but in 1954 the Uniontown area, now the Historic District, was incorporated as part of Anacostia with the intention to be a home for the Navy Yard workers. This shift turned Anacostia into one of D.C.’s first suburbs.


Quality of Life

Anacostia is close to National's Stadium, which is just two metro stops away on the Green line. In addition to National’s Stadium a $10 billion restoration and revitalization project is planned for the waterfront. It is located 15 minutes from the National Harbor.

The riverside neighborhood of Anacostia and its surrounding East of the River communities including Fairlawn, Deanwood, Hillcrest, Hill East, and the Southeast Waterfront are known for their strong sense of community and rich history. The neighborhood of Anacostia was designated an Historic District in 1978, and features colorful blocks of turn-of-the-century Victorians, brick rowhouses, and a charming downtown commercial area. Anacostia and neighboring East of the River communities also boast some of the best views of the city, magnificent green spaces, and beautiful walking and biking paths along the riverfront.

Anacostia Park, one of the largest parks in DC. It is operated by the National Park Service and offers space for a wide array of recreational activities including boating, fishing, sports fields, picnic pavilions, playgrounds and even  roller skating in an historic pavilion.

For indoor activities, the Anacostia Library has 22,000 square feet of spectacularly designed (and LEED Certified). Other neighborhood attractions not to be missed include the Anacostia Community Museum, which is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, the Anacostia Arts Center, Anacostia Playhouse, and the iconic Big Chair sculpture.

Restaurants, in the neighborhood is home to Uniontown Bar and Grill, Cheers @ the Big Chair Cafe, Capital Hill Crab Cakes, Citation Jamaican Cafe and Turning Natural.  A new Busboys and Poets restaurant is scheduled to open Fall, 2018. See rendering below.




Anacostia also awaits some major new developments including valuable retail spaces along its commercial corridors as well as the highly anticipated 11th Street Bridge Park.

With a convenient Metro station right off Good Hope Road and multiple stops for different bus lines, transportation is never an issue. Being located adjacent to Capitol Hill, the Washington Nationals Stadium, and the SW Waterfront development, Anacostia is a true hidden gem within the city.


Getting Around

Anacostia is served by its own metro stop on the Green line. It’s only three stops away from the main hub station, L’Enfant Plaza, which connects to the Yellow, Green, Blue and Orange lines. The area has easy access to I-295, I-395, I-495 and BWI Parkway.

Ronald Reagan National Airport < 10 miles

Washington Dulles International Airport < 30 miles

Baltimore Washington International Airport < 35 miles

National Harbor and MGM Grand Hotel < 8 miles

Popular neighborhoods include Southeast Washington, Fairfax Village, Anacostia Naval Station& Boiling Air Force Base, Barry Farm, Southwest / Waterfront, Hill East, Capitol Hill, Fort Dupont, Hillcrest-Fairfax Village, Barney Circle, Stanton Park, Hillcrest, Southwest Washington, Navy Yard, and Kingman Park.


For more information on East of the Anacostia neighborhoods see below.

 15 places in and around Anacostia that you should visit

Which Washington-Area Neighborhoods Will Boom Next?