Washington City Canal

1061 31st St NW
Washington DC  20007-5202

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The Washington City Canal operated from 1815 until the mid-1850s in Washington, D.C. The canal connected the Anacostia River, called the "Eastern Branch" at that time, to Tiber Creek, the Potomac River, and later the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O). The canal fell into disuse in the late 19th century and the city government covered over or filled in various sections.HistoryEarly planning and developmentIn the early years of the United States there was great interest among political leaders in building canals to support and stimulate economic development. Construction of a canal to run across the city of Washington was supported by local leaders, both in business and government. The plan was to connect the Eastern Branch, which was navigable into Maryland, with the Potomac, which was seen as a gateway to the West. President George Washington had founded the Potowmack Company in 1785 to improve navigation on the Potomac.Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant, in designing a master plan for the development of the capital city, supported construction of a canal between Eastern Branch and Tiber Creek. To raise funds for canal construction, lotteries were conducted in 1796, but these efforts were unsuccessful. There was little additional work done until 1802, when Congress granted a charter for the Washington Canal Company. A small amount of construction was started, but obtaining major financing for the canal continued to be difficult.

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