Getting to Know the DMV: Navy Yard

This riverside neighborhood is a hotspot for sports junkies, since it hosts both the Washington Nationals and soccer team D.C. United. But it’s also a vibrant area with good food, a rich history and some unusual activity options.

Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals, is one of Navy Yard's centerpiece attractions. (William Atkins/GW Today)
Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals, is one of Navy Yard's centerpiece attractions. (William Atkins/GW Today)
March 29, 2019

Washington, D.C., is more than the seat of the national government. The DMV—the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia—is home to broad, diverse communities and neighborhoods that offer history, good eats, parks and waterfronts—much of it a quick Metro ride away. Once a month during the academic year, Getting to Know the DMV will offer a glimpse of selected neighborhoods.


By Ruth Steinhardt

Ships, sailors, sugar and sports: in its long history, this neighborhood has had it all. Located in Southeast Washington, D.C, Navy Yard was the city’s earliest industrial district. The Washington Navy Yard, from which the neighborhood takes its name, was founded in 1799 and spent decades as the nation’s largest naval shipbuilding facility. It lost the distinction when the yard’s own commandant, Thomas Tingey, burned it to the ground to prevent seizure by the invading British during the War of 1812.

Ships continued to be built and refurbished there until 1961, thriving alongside large-scale commercial enterprises including the Sugar House sugar refinery and Washington Brewery. In the past few decades, the neighborhood has undergone extensive commercial redevelopment. (Photos by William Atkins.)

What to Do:

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team
If you love baseball (or just love eating hot dogs outdoors), Nats Park  (First and N streets, SE) is the place for you. That’s especially true this year, as the Nats will be trying to prove they’re unaffected by the loss of superstar Bryce Harper. (So far, it's not going great.) Tickets can sell for as low as about $15, so it’s easy to spend a few hours taking in America’s pastime.

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A few blocks away, soccer team D.C. United—with four MLS  cups, debatably the winningest sports team in Washington, D.C.—has its new home at Audi Field (2nd and R streets, SE). Warm your voice up in advance to keep up with the chants from supporters’ groups Barra Brava and the Screamin’ Eagles.

Get Outside

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On sunny spring and summer days, Canal Park (200 M  St., SE) and The Yards Park (355 Water St., SE) are good riverside spots to sunbathe, picnic and relax. They also host special summer events, like Canal Park’s free outdoor movie festival.

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Feeling more adventurous? Aspiring acrobats can head to Trapeze School New York (New Jersey Ave. and Tingey St., SE), where experts teach trapeze, trampoline and other circus arts.

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During the warmer months, rent a boat from Ballpark Boathouse (Potomac Ave. and First St., SE) and take to the water to explore the Anacostia River.

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Enjoy the view and learn about the Anacostia's ecosystem at the Earth Conservation Corps’ Monique Johnson Anacostia River Center (1520 First St., SE). Nature lovers can also get up close with birds of prey at the organization’s Matthew Henson Earth Conservation Center (2000 Half St., SW). 

If you’re in a historical mood but don’t want to go to a traditional indoor museum, the Walking Museum of Transportation (1200 New Jersey Ave., SE) features artifacts, interpretive panels and more learning resources outside the federal Department of Transportation.

Those who prefer to window shop as they walk are also in luck. Steadfast Supply (301 Tingey St., SE, #120) bills itself as “a conceptual retail store with a mission,” showcasing home goods, gifts, stationery and more from local artisans and independent brands.

 

Where to Eat:

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  • All-Purpose, 79 Potomac Ave., SE
    Washington Post food critic Tom Siestema named this pizzeria’s original location in Shaw D.C.’s best restaurant in 2016. The riverfront location features the same oven-fired pizzas and Italian-American classics, with bonus patio seating.

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  • Bluejacket Brewery, 300 Tingey St., SE
    This cavernous brewery and restaurant is located in the industrial-chic Boilermaker Shops, part of the Navy Yard’s historic manufacturing complex.
  • Bonchon, 1015 Half St., SE
    This Korean fried chicken chain is a crunchy cult favorite.
  • The Bullpen, 1201 Half St., SE
    Baseball fans over 21 can make a stop at this outdoor space next to Nationals Park. From April through September, local food trucks will convene monthly for Truckeroo mini-festivals.
  • Ice Cream Jubilee, 301 Water St., SE
    This summer favorite features unusual seasonal flavors like ume plum sesame and coconut lychee lime alongside tweaked classics like “cookies and cookie dough.” Its milk and cream is sourced from a local Maryland creamery.
  • Philz Coffee, 1331 4th St., SE
    Start your day (or afternoon, or evening) with a cup of coffee ground to order.

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  • Rasa, 1247 First St., SE
    Founded by two D.C. area natives whose fathers also own local Indian restaurants, Rasa calls itself “fast-casual Indian,” but its food is painstakingly prepared and largely made from scratch.
  • Slipstream, 82 I St., SE
    Coffee bar by day, cocktail bar by night. Tuesdays are “Neighborhood Nights,” with three courses and a paired cocktail for $25.
  • Taco City DC, 1102 8th St., SE
    Irresistible flavors and budget friendly deals (like a $2 taco night from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays) have made this new joint a neighborhood favorite.

How to Get There:

From Foggy Bottom

  • Metro:
    • Take Blue, Orange or Silver line train from Foggy Bottom to L’Enfant Plaza, transfer to the Green Line toward Branch Avenue and take the train to Navy Yard.
    • If you’d rather not transfer and you’re comfortable with a short walk, take the Blue, Orange or Silver lines to Capitol South. Then walk south down First St., SE, and continue south on New Jersey Ave., SE, for about half a mile.
  • Capital Bikeshare: You can rent a bike at any of the several bikeshare docks in Foggy Bottom and bike the four miles to Navy Yard. Make sure to follow all traffic laws.

From Mount Vernon

  • Campus Shuttles: The Vern Express runs between the Mount Vernon and Foggy Bottom campuses. The shuttle will only make stops on campus, so once you are in Foggy Bottom follow the suggested travel routes mentioned above.

 

Student Life, Ruth Steinhardt