- Site Type:
- Maritime: Harbors, Ports & Lighthouses, Infrastructure and Utilities
- New Deal Agencies:
- Army Corps of Engineers, Federal & Military Operations
- Penker Construction Company
- Quality of Information:
- Very Good
- Site Survival:
Commercial Pier No. 5 was part of a large-scale New Deal redevelopment program for the Washington Channel and Southwest Waterfront area.
Construction of the pier began in 1940, by the Penker Construction Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, and was completed in 1941. The Army Corps of Engineers supervised the project and the total cost was about $270,000 (about $5 million in 2020 dollars). About 3,000 cypress and pine logs from Virginia were used to create the pier.
Commercial Pier No. 5 permitted a greater exchange of goods in the nation’s capital, and was the result of “many years of agitation” from the business community to enhance maritime facilities (Evening Star, March 7, 1937). It was also symbolic of the New Deal’s commitment to improving U.S. infrastructure.
The location of Commercial Pier No. 5 was described as being at the foot of 6th and N Streets, SW. Today, this is the location of the two southernmost piers of the Washington Channel – a pier for public boating excursions and a pier for the Washington DC Harbor Patrol, in the area of 550 to 580 Water Street SW.
It is unknown to the Living New Deal whether any part of Commercial Pier No. 5 still exists. Given various redevelopment projects along the Southwest Waterfront area since the New Deal era, as well as the normal deterioration of piers, it is unlikely – though the timbers driven into the mud to build such piers often have very long life-spans.
“Work Due to Start Soon on Fifth Unit of Channel Project,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), August 30, 1940, p. B-1 (accessed April 17, 2021).
“Battering 3,000 Logs Into Potomac for New Wharf Begins,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), November 6, 1940, p. B-1 (accessed April 17, 2021).
“City to Greet River Traffic With Setting Of Beauty,” Sunday Star (Washington, DC), March 7, 1937, p. F-1 (accessed April 17, 2021).
Department of the Army, Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1941, Part 1, Volume 1, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1941, pp. 458 (accessed April 11, 2021).
Department of the Army, Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1942, Part 1, Volume 1, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943, p. 398 (accessed April 17, 2021).
Department of the Army, Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1950, Part 1, Volume 1, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951, pp. 479-481 (accessed April 11, 2021).
Site originally submitted by Brent McKee on April 18, 2021.
At this Location:
- Municipal Fish Market Pier Reconstruction - Washington DC
- Washington Marina - Washington DC
- District Wharf and Engine Building - Washington DC
- Washington Channel and Southwest Waterfront Redevelopment - Washington DC
- Yacht Basin No. 2 (former) - Washington DC
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