Help make 2018 the Year of the Anacostia

August 31, 2018, will be the 100-year anniversary of federal legislation designating a majority of the Anacostia River waterfront as public parkland and civic space. The District Council introduced a resolution on Sept. 19, 2017 to recognize 2018 as the “Year of the Anacostia,” joining the National Park Service, District Department of Energy and Environment, DC Water, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and several nonprofit organizations that are currently working to celebrate the many milestones and anniversaries happening next year, including:

  • The Centennial of Anacostia Park
  • The launch of DC Water’s Anacostia Tunnel project
  • The Major League Baseball All-Star Game on the waterfront at Nationals Park
  • The Bicentennial of Frederick Douglass
  • Completion of plans for several major cleanup projects along the Anacostia River

Currently, there is no funding available for new park improvements, expanded programming along the Anacostia, or coordination of the many groups looking to participate in the Year of the Anacostia. Without new support, the difference between the Year of the Anacostia and years before it may only be in name.

The Anacostia Waterfront Trust is requesting that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser provide financial support for programming during the Year of the Anacostia through a grant program. This program would ensure that:

  • More signature celebratory events will attract a wide variety of residents and visitors to the Anacostia River
  • Existing education, health and cultural program providers will have an opportunity to expand their offerings during 2018, and new program providers will be invited to bring their events and activities to the waterfront for the first time

Doing more for educational and health programs along the Anacostia is consistent with the Mayor's efforts to provide upward pathways for all the District’s citizens.

Please join us in asking Mayor Bowser to give serious consideration to creating a grant program for community-based organizations to mark this important anniversary in DC’s history by laying a strong foundation for the future.


Tweet @MayorBowser to let her know you want to make 2018 an amazing year for the Anacostia:


By filling out this form , you are adding your name to the letter below, which will be sent to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. In addition, you may receive very occasional updates from the Anacostia Waterfront Trust, from which you can unsubscribe at any time. 

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The Honorable Muriel M. Bowser
Mayor of the District of Columbia
The John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mayor Bowser,

We the below-signed individuals and organizations are writing to ask you to act now to create a grant program to support nonprofit groups willing and able to do events, programming, and educational activities for children and adults on the Anacostia waterfront.

On September 19th, all thirteen members of the DC Council filed a Sense of the Council resolution recognizing 2018 as the “Year of the Anacostia.” While the resolution notes that many significant events will happen on and around the Anacostia River in 2018, the basis for the designation is the historic 100th Anniversary of the Anacostia public waterfront. On August 31, 1918, Congress set most of the Anacostia riverfront aside as public parkland, building on the 1902 vision of the Senate Park Commission and the 1912 report of the Commission of Fine Arts, which opined that the “Anacostia Water Park” would give Washington a park of “exceptional beauty and value.”

Because of Congress’ visionary action, the District is today blessed to have public riverfront lands along the Anacostia larger than New York City’s Central Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, or any of Chicago’s lakefront parks. Much of the land continues to be called Anacostia Park and is managed by the National Park Service, but two important parts of the historic Anacostia Park have been transferred to the District (Kingman Island and Boathouse Row); one is on long-term lease (the RFK Stadium area); and two more are Congressionally-directed to transfer when conditions are met.

As the Council resolution notes, 2018 will be a significant year for the Anacostia area in several additional ways. It will mark the 200th Anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth, as well as the 50th Anniversary of the death of seven-year-old Kelvin Mock in the Kenilworth burning dump, the groundbreaking “Summer in the Parks”, and several pieces of far-sighted national environmental legislation. It will also be the year that DC Water’s massive combined sewer tunnel system goes on line, significantly reducing the amount of bacteria and other contaminants entering the river; the deadline for several important plans for Anacostia-area toxic cleanup; and the year for the Major League Baseball All Star Game and festivities in and around Nationals Park.

Waterfront parks such as the District’s have immense recreational, educational, social, and economic value to cities, and it is a strong and productive strategy to invest resources in public programming to maximize that value. The District needs to move in that direction. The fact that the National Park Service manages much of the waterfront does not in any way diminish its value for DC residents. We believe that the District can and should support far more activities, events, and programming for District residents on the waterfront, beginning in these months leading up to the Centennial.

Many of our organizations have been implementing events and education programs for years and could quickly ramp up were funding to be made available. We want to help you to make the Anacostia waterfront a far more valuable educational, cultural, recreational, and economic resource for DC residents and visitors.

Doing more for educational and health programs along the Anacostia is consistent with your efforts to provide pathways up for all the District’s citizens. Please give serious consideration to creating a grant program for community-based organizations to mark this important anniversary in DC’s history by laying a strong foundation for the future.