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The Good, The Bad, and The Controversial: Facts About the Washington National Harbor

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

-Bonus: Top 3 activities to do in Nation Harbor


The Washington National Harbor is an extensive waterfront development along the Potomac River in Prince George's County, Maryland. The project was first proposed in the 1990s and opened in phases starting in 2008. Since then, it has become a popular destination for tourists and locals, offering various attractions, dining options, and shopping opportunities. However, the development has also been controversial, with some criticizing its environmental impact, displacement of local communities, and economic effects. Here's a look at some of the key facts and arguments surrounding the Washington National Harbor:


The Washington National Harbor is an extensive waterfront development along the Potomac River in Prince George's County, Maryland. The project was first proposed in the 1990s and opened in phases starting in 2008. Since then, it has become a popular destination for tourists and locals, offering various attractions, dining options, and shopping opportunities. However, the development has also been controversial, with some criticizing its environmental impact, displacement of local communities, and economic effects. Here's a look at some of the key facts and arguments surrounding the Washington National Harbor:

The Good:


1. Tourism: One of the main benefits of the Washington National Harbor is its ability to attract tourists to the region. The development offers a range of entertainment options, including a Ferris wheel, a concert venue, and a variety of restaurants and shops. These attractions have helped increase the number of visitors to the area, boosting the local economy.


2. Jobs: The Washington National Harbor has also created jobs in the region during its construction and ongoing operations. According to some estimates, the development has generated thousands of jobs in hospitality, retail, and construction areas.


3. Tax revenue: Another positive aspect of the Washington National Harbor is its ability to generate tax revenue for Maryland. The development has contributed millions of dollars in tax revenue each year, helping to support local services and infrastructure.


The Bad:


1. Environmental impact: One of the most significant criticisms of the Washington National Harbor is its environmental impact. The development was built on a former industrial site and required extensive land reclamation and dredging, which some argue has disrupted local ecosystems and contributed to pollution. Additionally, the development's reliance on cars and other vehicles has increased traffic and emissions in the area.


2. Displacement of local communities: Another controversial aspect of the Washington National Harbor is the displacement of local communities during construction. Hundreds of homes were acquired and demolished, many occupied by low-income and minority residents. Some critics argue that the project prioritized corporate interests over these communities' needs and rights and contributed to gentrification and inequality in the region.


3. Economic effects: Finally, the economic impact of the Washington National Harbor is a subject of debate among economists and policymakers. While proponents argue that the development has created jobs, spurred tourism, and generated tax revenue, others say that these benefits have been overstated and that the costs to taxpayers and local businesses have been high. Some also criticize the development for its reliance on low-wage service jobs and failure to promote equitable economic growth in the region.


1. Public funding: The development of the Washington National Harbor was partially funded by public dollars, including tax breaks and infrastructure investments. Critics argue that this funding could have been better spent on other priorities, such as affordable housing or public transportation.

The Controversial:


1. Public funding: The development of the Washington National Harbor was partially funded by public dollars, including tax breaks and infrastructure investments. Critics argue that this funding could have been better spent on other priorities, such as affordable housing or public transportation.


2. Environmental impact: The construction and operation of the Washington National Harbor have significantly impacted the environment, particularly on the Potomac River and its surrounding ecosystem. Critics argue that the development has disrupted habitats, contributed to water pollution, and threatened the health and well-being of local wildlife. As the development continues to expand, addressing these environmental concerns and working towards more sustainable practices that minimize harm to the natural world will be necessary.


3. Labor practices: Some workers at the Washington National Harbor have alleged unfair labor practices. Critics argue that the development has relied on low-wage service jobs and that workers deserve better treatment and compensation.


The Washington National Harbor offers various activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you're looking for a thrill ride, an educational experience, or a relaxing river cruise, there's something for everyone at this dynamic waterfront destination.


Top 3 activities to do in Nation Harbor


1. Take a ride on the Capital Wheel: The Capital Wheel is a 180-foot Ferris wheel that offers stunning views of the Potomac River and the surrounding area. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely ride on the wheel's enclosed gondolas, which are heated and air-conditioned for year-round comfort. The Capital Wheel is open daily; tickets can be purchased online or at the attraction.


2. Visit the National Children's Museum: The National Children's Museum is a hands-on learning center that offers interactive exhibits and programs for children of all ages. Visitors can explore various topics, from science and technology to art and culture, and participate in activities such as building and experimenting. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, and admission fees apply.


3. Take a river cruise: The Potomac River is a scenic and historic waterway that offers a unique perspective on the Washington National Harbor and the surrounding area. Visitors can take a variety of river cruises, ranging from sightseeing tours to dinner cruises, and enjoy views of famous landmarks such as the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol. Some cruise operators offer live entertainment and other amenities like food and drinks.





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