|Potomac River, Washington, D.C.
The Three Sisters are three rocky islands in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., west of the Key Bridge. A notable landmark in colonial times, the islets are less well known as the Three Sisters Islandsand Three Sisters Island.
Bridges have been proposed for the Three Sisters several times, most recently in the 1960s, when the Three Sisters Bridge proposal led to a decade of protests and ultimately, its cancellation.
The Three Sisters are part of the Fall Line, a geologic feature which distinguishes the sedimentary coastal plain of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States from the basement rock of the inland.Part of this basement rock, the Three Sisters are composed of granite. Roughly 300,000 years ago, Atlantic Ocean levels were much higher. At that time, the lower Potomac River was submerged beneath the Atlantic Ocean, whose shores reached the Three Sisters.
The Potomac River near Washington, D.C. averages 10–20 feet (3–6 m) deep, except near shore or the Three Sisters. However, there is a deep channel near the Three Sisters that is generally about 80 feet (24 m) deep, but can drop to just 30 feet (9 m) or less during low tide or periods of little precipitation. The rock formation generates sand bars which are often visible at low tide. No grass grows on the sandbars near Three Sisters. They are fully submerged at high tide. The height of the sandbars wax and wane according to floods, spring silt runoff, and drought.
The (traditional) navigational high water mark is Georgetown, which is why the town came to be. Georgetown, which preceded the establishment of the District of Columbia, was the furthest point inland that shipping vessels could reliably reach when coming up from the Atlantic Ocean. The C&O Canal was proposed as a means of navigating inland beyond Georgetown and past the obstructions of Little Falls and Great Falls.
Various legends and historical oral tales are associated with the Three Sisters. One of the earliest stories involves three Algonquian sisters who crossed the river in an attempt to win the release of their brothers, who had been kidnapped by another tribe. They drowned while crossing the river, and were turned into the rocky islets.A less commonly cited legend says three daughters of the local Native American chief were marooned on the islands by their father after rejecting the husbands he picked out for them. The legend holds that the sisters cursed the spot, saying that if they could not cross the Potomac there, no one could. A strange moaning or bell-like sound is said to come from the Potomac River when the curse is about to claim another life.
The first European to see the Three Sisters was Captain John Smith, who sailed up the Potomac River and saw them in 1607.The islets were a landmark in colonial times, and appeared on Pierre L'Enfant's first map of the area.
|Three Sisters Bridge
A bridge across the Potomac River, using the Three Sisters as part of the supporting piers, was first proposed by Pierre L'Enfant in 1789.A bridge was again proposed at the site in 1826, but the plan was defeated after supporters of Chain Bridge (then a toll bridge) opposed it. A bridge was planned again in 1857, but debate over its exact location lasted for years. The onset of the American Civil War forced the cancellation of the plan.
In 1929, the Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway was renamed the George Washington Memorial Parkway by Congress, which authorized its extension to the Great Falls of the Potomac.The idea for a large George Washington Memorial Parkway came from Representative Louis C. Cramton, who introduced legislation in January 1929 to construct a larger system of roads and parks. In the Senate, the bill was amended by Carter Glass to include a bridge across the Potomac at the Great Falls of the Potomac. Congress enacted the "Act of May 29, 1930" (46 Stat. 482) — more commonly known as the Capper-Cramton Act — to establish the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The act appropriated $13.5 million to acquire land and build a parkway on the Virginia shoreline from Mount Vernon to the Great Falls of the Potomac (excluding the city of Alexandria), and to build a parkway on the Maryland shoreline from Fort Washington, Maryland, to the Great Falls of the Potomac (excluding the District of Columbia). (This section is now known as the Clara Barton Parkway.) A bridge across the Potomac at or near the Great Falls was also included in the final bill.
In 1957, Senator Clifford P. Case introduced legislation that would require the District of Columbia to build a bridge across the Three Sisters connecting D.C. and Virginia. In mid-1961, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation proposed constructing a six-lane, 160-foot-wide (49 m) bridge linking the Virginia and D.C. segments of the George Washington Memorial Parkway at the Three Sisters. The bridge was designed to carry the unbuilt Interstate 266, part of the proposed Inner Loop system of beltway superhighways designed for the inner parts of the District of Columbia. Construction of the bridge would also have required that Congress fund construction of the proposed Potomac River Freeway. Over the next 11 years, there would be several lawsuits (most of which were won by opponents of the bridge) and numerous protests — including an attempt to occupy the Three Sisters.
In 1966, Representative William Natcher, chairman of the Subcommittee on Appropriations for the District of Columbia of the House Committee on Appropriations, threatened to withhold money for the construction of the Washington Metro if the bridge were not built. Natcher was a strong advocate of highway construction, and used his subcommittee position to win support for public works projects in his home district; it was the House Public Works Committee which had first approved the bridge. A bitter eight-year political battle occurred, during which Natcher repeatedly deleted money for Metro from the federal budget. Repeatedly District of Columbia and United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials would agree to build the bridge, causing the Metro money to be restored, and then reasons for not building the bridge would be found.Finally, in December 1971, Representative Robert Giaimo led a successful revolt on the House floor which restored the Metro funding over Natcher's vehement opposition. Without the threat of losing Metro money, D.C. and USDOT officials quietly deleted the bridge from their construction plans. The bridge project was declared dead by The Washington Post in May 1977.
The islets are integral to the plot of Breena Clarke's best-selling novel River, Cross My Heart, set in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in 1925.A false legend about the landmark (that three nuns drowned at the Three Sisters, giving the rocks their name) is given in River, Cross My Heart, and also by David Baldacci in his novel The Camel Club .
The islets also appear in Carolivia Herron's 1992 novel Thereafter, Johnnie,and in Margaret Truman's 1995 murder-mystery novel Murder on the Potomac.
Interstate 66 (I-66) is an Interstate Highway in the eastern United States. As indicated by its even route number, it runs in an east–west direction. Its western terminus is near Middletown, Virginia, at an interchange with I-81; its eastern terminus is in Washington, D.C., at an interchange with U.S. Route 29. Much of the route parallels U.S. Route 29 or Virginia State Route 55. Interstate 66 has no physical or historical connection to the famous U.S. Route 66 which was located in a different region of the United States.
The Blue Line is a rapid transit line of the Washington Metro system, consisting of 27 stations in Fairfax County, Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia; the District of Columbia; and Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The Blue Line runs from Franconia–Springfield to Largo Town Center. The line shares tracks with the Orange Line for 13 stations, the Silver Line for 18, and the Yellow Line for six. Only three stations are exclusive to the Blue Line.
The Orange Line is a rapid transit line of the Washington Metro system, consisting of 26 stations in Fairfax County and Arlington, Virginia; the District of Columbia; and Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The Orange Line runs from Vienna in Virginia to New Carrollton in Maryland. Half of the line's stations are shared with the Blue Line and over two thirds are shared with the Silver Line. Orange Line service began on November 20, 1978.
The Yellow Line is a rapid transit line of the Washington Metro system, consisting of 21 stations in Fairfax County, Alexandria, and Arlington County, Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C. and Prince George's County, Maryland. The Yellow Line runs from Huntington in Virginia to Greenbelt station during all times since May 2019. Before then, it used to short turns at Mount Vernon Square during peak hours and ended at Fort Totten station during off-peak hours.
Rosslyn is a heavily urbanized unincorporated area in Northern Virginia located in the northeastern corner of Arlington County, Virginia, north of Arlington National Cemetery and directly across the Potomac River from Georgetown and Foggy Bottom in Washington, D.C.
The Arlington Memorial Bridge is a Neoclassical masonry, steel, and stone arch bridge with a central bascule that crosses the Potomac River at Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. First proposed in 1886, the bridge went unbuilt for decades thanks to political quarrels over whether the bridge should be a memorial, and to whom or what. Traffic problems associated with the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in November 1921 and the desire to build a bridge in time for the bicentennial of the birth of George Washington led to its construction in 1932.
William Huston Natcher was a Democratic congressman, serving in the United States House of Representatives from 1953 until his death from heart failure in Bethesda, Maryland in 1994. He is the second longest-serving member ever of the United States House of Representatives from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The Capital Beltway is a 64-mile (103 km) Interstate Highway that surrounds Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, and its inner suburbs in adjacent Maryland and Virginia. It is the basis of the phrase "inside the Beltway", used when referring to issues dealing with U.S. federal government and politics. The highway is signed as Interstate 495 (I-495) for its entire length, and its southern and eastern half runs concurrently with I-95.
The Potomac Heritage Trail, also known as the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail or the PHT, is a designated National Scenic Trail corridor spanning parts of the mid-Atlantic and upper southeastern regions of the United States that will connect various trails and historic sites in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. The trail network includes 710 miles (1,140 km) of existing and planned sections, tracing the outstanding natural, historical, and cultural features of the Potomac River corridor, the upper Ohio River watershed in Pennsylvania and western Maryland, and a portion of the Rappahannock River watershed in Virginia. The trail is managed by the National Park Service.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is an 88.5-acre (358,000 m2) island and national memorial located in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. During the Civil War, it was used as a training camp for the United States Colored Troops. The island was given to the federal government by the Theodore Roosevelt Association in memory of the 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt. Until then, the island had been known as My Lord's Island, Barbadoes Island, Mason's Island, Analostan Island, and Anacostine Island.
Interstate 295 (I-295) in the U.S. state of Maryland and in Washington, D.C., also known as the Anacostia Freeway, is a 8.05-mile (12.96 km) spur route connecting I-95 / I-495 and Maryland Route 210 near the Potomac River to Interstate 695 and D.C. Route 295 in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway, colloquially the G.W. Parkway, is a 25-mile-long (40 km) parkway that runs along the south bank of the Potomac River from Mount Vernon, Virginia, northwest to McLean, Virginia, and is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). It is located almost entirely within Virginia, except for a short portion of the parkway northwest of the Arlington Memorial Bridge that passes over Columbia Island within the District of Columbia.
The Francis Scott Key Bridge, more commonly known as the Key Bridge, is a six-lane reinforced concrete arch bridge conveying U.S. Route 29 (US 29) traffic across the Potomac River between the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia, and the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Completed in 1923, it is Washington's oldest surviving road bridge across the Potomac River.
Clara Barton Parkway is an automobile parkway in the U.S. state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. The highway runs 6.8 miles (10.9 km) from MacArthur Boulevard in Carderock, Maryland, east to Canal Road at the Chain Bridge in Washington. Clara Barton Parkway is a two- to four-lane parkway that parallels the Potomac River and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O) in southwestern Montgomery County, Maryland, and the far western corner of Washington. The parkway provides access to the communities of Cabin John and Glen Echo and several units of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The Maryland portion of the George Washington Memorial Parkway was constructed from Carderock past Interstate 495 (I-495) to Glen Echo in the early to mid-1960s. The parkway was proposed to continue west to Great Falls and east to Georgetown. However, these proposals never came to fruition and the parkway was extended only to the Chain Bridge in the early 1970s. The Maryland portion of the George Washington Memorial Parkway was renamed in 1989 for Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, and whose original headquarters is located in Glen Echo.
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Barney Circle is a small residential neighborhood located between the west bank of the Anacostia River and the eastern edge of Capitol Hill in southeast Washington, D.C., in the United States. The neighborhood is characterized by its sense of community, activism, walkability, and historic feel. The neighborhood's name derives from the eponymous former traffic circle Pennsylvania Avenue SE just before it crosses the John Philip Sousa Bridge over the Anacostia. The traffic circle is named for Commodore Joshua Barney, Commander of the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla in the War of 1812.
The McMillan Plan is a comprehensive planning document for the development of the monumental core and the park system of Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. It was written in 1902 by the Senate Park Commission. The commission is popularly known as the McMillan Commission after its chairman, Senator James McMillan of Michigan.
U.S. Route 29 (US 29) in the District of Columbia is a U.S. highway which enters D.C. via Key Bridge from Arlington, Virginia, and exits at Silver Spring, Maryland. It predominantly follows city surface streets, although the portion of the route from Key Bridge east to 26th Street NW is an elevated highway. The elevated section of U.S. Route 29 in D.C. is better known as the Whitehurst Freeway. Called the city's most ridiculed bridge in 1989, there have been several attempts to have the Whitehurst Freeway torn down but cost and other considerations have stopped these proposals from being acted on.
The Washington Outer Beltway was a proposed freeway that would have extended further out than the Capital Beltway and encircled Washington, D.C. through the states of Maryland and Virginia. Most of the route was canceled in the 1980s. Parts of it have been built as the Fairfax County Parkway in Virginia, as well as Interstate 370 and the Intercounty Connector in Maryland.
The Three Sisters Bridge was a planned bridge over the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., with piers on the Three Sisters islets. Envisioned in the 1950s and formally proposed in the 1960s, it was cancelled amid protests in the 1970s.