Photo by afagen on Flickr.

Vancouver’s False Creek ferries shuttle people between major attractions and neighborhoods, activating their waterway. Yesterday, we discussed whether a similar program could achieve the same for the Anacostia River. Could a connected Anacostia become a significant destination or even a second, water-borne National Mall?

The False Creek ferries run every 5-10 minutes all day, make short hops of about 5 minutes along the waterway, cost $3.25 to $6.50, and manage to be financially self-sufficient.

Ferries in the Anacostia would labor under a few disadvantages compared to Vancouver’s False Creek. Much of the land on each side of the river is military — the Navy Yard, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, and Fort McNair. That cuts down on how much of the waterfront the ferries can serve, but there are plenty of spots to land in the same span as the False Creek Ferries use.

No neighborhood on either side of the Anacostia will have anywhere near the population density of Vancouver’s Yaletown, whose towers exceed 30 stories tall (except in the unlikely event that a consensus builds to create La Défense on the Anacostia and allow tall towers at Poplar Point). But the Capitol Riverfront will still be a dense neighborhood by DC standards. The Navy Yard is a major employment center, and more jobs are coming to JBAB.

A lot of the riders of False Creek Ferries are tourists. We don’t have one of the city’s largest tourist attractions right on the river, at least not yet. Hop on-hop off tour buses do not come down to Near Southeast right now. However, Washington draws huge numbers of tourists. If we can draw tourists to the river, they could fill the ferries.

The National Capital Planning Commission often talks about where to put all of the memorials and museums that groups constantly want to build, but which can’t possibly all fit on the Mall.

Southwest Ecodistrict. Image from NCPC.

The Southwest Ecodistrict plan seeks to remake the L’Enfant Promenade into a pleasant place to walk with a significant museum at its end. Tour buses, like the Open Tops, do go to the end of the promenade. What if, instead of the Banneker Overlook being a dead-end excursion off the Mall, it becomes a jumping-off point to another Mall… the Water Mall?

Potential ferry stops from Banneker Park to Anacostia Park.

The ferries would have to stretch a little farther than Vancouver’s, but even the trip end-to-end shown here is only about 4½ route miles versus 3 for False Creek. The Park Service could place new museums and memorials in many spots in Anacostia Park and have plenty of room left over for recreation and nature.

The future Mall Circulators could have a stop at Banneker, and ultimately the streetcar could go to the Buzzard Point dock and the 11th Street Recreation Bridge, connecting directly to the ferries. The stops would be a short walk from L’Enfant Plaza, Navy Yard and Anacostia Metro stations.

Blue pins are potential ferry stops. Red lines are planned streetcar routes.

Tour itineraries could suggest that families spend one day walking on the Land Mall and then one day cruising the Water Mall.

The ferries might not be able to run completely at a profit, given the lower population density along the Anacostia and the longer distance. But if the Water Mall becomes enough of a tourist attraction, who knows?