Municipal Fish Market Pier Reconstruction – Washington DC


In 1937, the District of Columbia government contracted with the Fred Drew Co. to reconstruct the Municipal Fish Market Pier (also called Pier No. 1). The cost of the project was $20,000 (about $366,000 in 2020 dollars) and funds were provided via the District of Columbia Appropriation Act for 1937, signed into law by Franklin Roosevelt on June 23, 1936. The project was part of a broad New Deal initiative to modernize and beautify the Washington Channel and Southwest Waterfront areas.

Work started on April 19, 1937 and was completed three months later, on July 13. The DC Government noted: “The completion of this pier provided additional dockage space, sorely needed to accommodate fish, oyster, and other produce boats, as well as limited space for commercial or general cargo boats carrying lumber and other commodities” (1937 fiscal year report).

The current state of the pier is unknown to the Living New Deal, but it is likely that the 1937 structure has been replaced in subsequent improvements to the southwest waterfront.

The Municipal Fish Market building atop the pier had been constructed by the District Commissioners in 1918.   A Works Progress Administration (WPA) project to perform repairs on the Municipal Fish Market building was approved in December 1935, but it is unknown to the Living New Deal whether this project was ever carried through.  The old municipal market was demolished in the 1960s as part of the sweeping southeast urban renewal program and construction of I-395.

A new market hall was built just south of the freeway; this is today’s Maine Avenue Fish market.  It is the oldest continuously operating fish market in the United States, dating back to 1805, seventeen years before New York City’s Fulton Fish Market opened.


Source notes

Commissioners of the District of Columbia, Report of the Government of the District of Columbia, For the Year Ended June 30, 1937, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937, p. 101.

Annual Budget Message to Congress, January 7, 1937,” The American Presidency Project, University of California Santa Barbara (accessed April 4, 2021).

National Archives, Record Group 69, “Microfilmed Index to WPA Projects.”

“16 WPA jobs are approved by Roosevelt,” Washington Post, December 13, 1935, p. 21.

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - on June 25, 2013.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

1100 Maine Ave SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

Coordinates: 38.8809, -77.0283

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