Streets of Washington, written by John DeFerrari, covers some of DC’s most interesting buildings and history. John is the author of Historic Restaurants of Washington, D.C.: Capital Eats, to be published this September by the History Press, Inc. John is also the author of Lost Washington DC.
Though it receives little attention in the media, competitive canoeing ranks high among the city’s sports achievements. Washington has participated in competitive flatwater canoeing at the Olympics ever since the sport was first introduced in 1924, and much of America’s success has been due to the athletes of the venerable Washington Canoe Club, headquartered in one of the Georgetown waterfront’s most historic and picturesque structures, a 1905 boathouse at 3700 Water Street NW. The green wooden-shingled structure, perched on the edge of the flood-prone Potomac river, has deteriorated over the years and gradually fallen into disrepair. Its future is now largely in the hands of the National Park Service.
Washington Canoe Club (photo by the author).
A hundred years ago, the Potomac river was the center of attention for summer sports and recreation, a place where refreshing breezes off the water could ease the swelter of un-air-conditioned city living. Many people would set up summer camps along either side of the Potomac from Georgetown to Great Falls and beyond, and hundreds would line the shores of the river or the railings of the Aqueduct Bridge to watch hotly-contested boat races. A June 1904 article in The Washington Post rhapsodized that “The beautiful stretch of water from the Analostan [Theodore Roosevelt Island] Boat House up to within a dozen furlongs of the Chain Bridge is the one most utilized by the oarsmen and canoeists, and the ever-passing throng makes the stream take on the appearance of the Grand Canal at Venice, with the gondolas left out.” (more…)