Washington | DC
River Terrace is an urban cul-de-sac neighborhood in Northeast Washington, D.C., on the eastern bank of the Anacostia River. River Terrace is Washington, DC’s only planned unit development that has an unimpeded connection to and relationship with the Anacostia River.
River Terrace is bounded by DC Route 295 (also known as the Anacostia Freeway) to the east; Benning Road, NE to the north; the Anacostia River to the west; and East Capitol Street to the south. In addition to the residences, the neighborhood consists of River Terrace Park (part of the National Park Service’s 11-mile shoreline Anacostia Park); the River Terrace Shopping Center; the Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; a U.S. Postal Service Carrier Annex; and the River Terrace Education Campus, which opened in the fall of 2015. National Insured Homes Corporation, a building subsidiary of N. K. Winston & Co., Inc., was the original developer of River Terrace. The Winston company was a New York-based real estate and construction firm. The River Terrace neighborhood began in 1937, built on 65 acres of rural, undeveloped land. The developer of River Terrace advertised it as being “eight minutes from downtown Washington, with streetcars and buses close at hand.” Most of the attached homes (later referred to as row houses or townhouses) were designed to sell for less than $5,000 each to working-class families.
In the 1880s, Civil War veteran Walter Shaw transplanted wild water lilies from his native Maine to a pond he created on his farmland and tidal wetlands located on the north end of the Anacostia River in Washington, DC. In 1939, the National Park Service acquired Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, making it the only U.S. National Park devoted to aquatic plants.
By 1940, River Terrace had more than 300 finished houses, and the developer planned to build an additional 700 houses. Also, construction was underway at the River Terrace Shopping Center, to include six stores and a group of offices. The following year, the United States entered World War II, and the influx of defense-related employees increased the demand for housing throughout the Washington, DC area. In 1944, the U.S. government passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, known informally as the G.I. Bill. The Act included numerous benefits for returning World War II veterans, including low-cost mortgages that enabled U.S. soldiers to purchase their first homes. When the River Terrace neighborhood was built-out in 1958, it had about 1,000 single-family homes and 7 apartment buildings.