Art Lights the Way

Written by Scott Kratz

Over the last several decades, we’ve done an incredible job creating as many barriers as possible between the community and the Anacostia River. A key culprit is the 295 freeway that disconnects Anacostia and Fairlawn residents from Anacostia Park and the future 11th Street Bridge Park. Anyone who has walked from historic Anacostia to the river has experienced the grim and unwelcoming Good Hope Road / 295 Freeway underpass.

In 2014, graduate urban planning students from Virginia Tech led a three-month walkability and accessibility study ensuring the 11th Street Bridge Park is deeply connected to our adjacent neighborhoods. The report recommended using art to stitch together neighborhoods to the river. To address this need, we partnered with the Anacostia Arts Center to install a series of lighted cases featuring east of the river artists. After 20 months of planning, permitting and construction, we unveiled this 90 foot art installation. Our first featured artist is award-winning Ward 7 photographer Bruce McNeil who has documented the Anacostia River for 20+ years.

At Friday’s ribbon cutting, Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray was on hand to share “I’m proud that internationally acclaimed artist and Ward 7 resident Bruce McNeil helped create the environmental art for the lighted 295 underpass art installation connecting East End neighborhoods to Anacostia Park, the river and the future Bridge Park.” We’d like to thank Councilmember Gray for joining us along with representatives from the National Park Service and the Anacostia BID. We’d also like to thank our supporters The Kresge Foundation, PEPCO and City First Bank. Be sure to check it out the next time you walk down to the river!