History of the Park

Citizen efforts to transform the Georgetown waterfront into a national park spanned more than three decades. In 1978, Judy Bonderman, Katharine Sullivan, and Ann Satterthwaite formed the Committee for Washington’s Riverfront Parks to encourage the National Park Service to see the potential for the Georgetown waterfront as national park.  In the early 1980s, the National Park Service took the first step by encouraging the District of Columbia to transfer 10-acres of waterfront land in Georgetown to the Federal government in exchange for the Park Service’s agreement to create a national park there.  The transfer was completed in 1985, but the Park Service did not have funds to construct the park, so for many years the Georgetown waterfront remained a parking lot.

In 1991, Max Berry and Ginger Laytham formed a second organization, the Georgetown Waterfront Arts Commission, to broaden support for a national park by holding cultural events on the waterfront. The Arts Commission was successful in heightening interest in creating a park, but funds for park construction were still lacking.

In 1994, Ann Satterthwaite helped to establish a third organization, the Georgetown Waterfront Park Commission, to advocate for a park. The Commission was a coalition of volunteers and community organizations, co-chaired by Bill Cochran, a former President of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, and Senator Charles H. Percy, a Georgetown resident interested in park.  But, nearly another decade would pass before the park would be built.

In 2005, a group of citizens who had been active on the Commission founded a non-profit organization, Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park (FOGWP), to continue to advocate for the park and to complete the fundraising.  Over the next several years, working with the District of Columbia Government, the National Park Service, and private donors, FOGWP reached the $23 million fundraising goal.

Groundbreaking for Georgetown Waterfront Park was held in July 2006; Phase 1 (Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. to 34th Street, N.W.) opened in October 2008, and Phase 2 (Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. to Washington Harbour) opened in September 2011.