Southwest is the smallest of Washington D.C.’s quadrants, but if you’ve visited the Nation’s Capitol you’ve probably been there. The boundaries of Southwest extend from the axis of the Capitol building west for the entire length of the National Mall, and south to include Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling across the river. Today, it is only a small sliver of the District, but it wasn’t always so small. When the lines were drawn for DC, the District formed a square and included Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. However, in the 19th century the District ceded Arlington and Alexandria back to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Though not often mentioned as a residential area, there is a lot of focus on developing the riverfront just north of Fort McNair. This up-and-coming area will be home to multiple high rise condo buildings, luxury hotels, local and national brand shops and restaurants, a marina with hundreds of boat slips, parks, and community spaces — so definitely be on the lookout for a migration of young professionals to the Southwest Waterfront.
Most notably, Southwest is where you’ll find the National Air & Space Museum, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Fort McNair and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling are also in Southwest D.C.
The areas near the National Mall are tourist-heavy with the abundance of monuments and attractions, but the throngs of visitors thin out dramatically as you travel south. The highrise apartments and condos will most likely attract young professionals, couples and possibly families with a small child or fur-baby who won’t need a ton of space. You’ll find hipsters, thespians, working class people, and retirees in Southwest.
Southwest is one of the more historic areas in the district with some homes dating back to the 1700s. This history is colliding with the new waterfront development that will likely be one of the hottest new neighborhoods in DC. This represents a broader transition from being an often-overlooked area to an active, thriving, urban community with street level shops and eclectic residents. The Southwest Waterfront also currently boasts the largest population of “liveaboards” on the East Coast — as in, they live aboard their boat! Most of the homes currently available range in style from 18th Century Federal to Mid-Century Modern, with many high rise buildings that date back to the 1950s scattered about. Stunning views of the Potomac River abound and residents love being within walking distance to the National Mall. The communities are pretty tightly knit and it’s much less crowded than the more notable tourist destination neighborhoods in the District.