The Anacostia: From Years of Neglect to a River of Promise

Dorothy Rowley | 10/24/2012, 4:55 p.m.

McNeil, 58, who uses his art as a teaching tool for young students, said he's been photographing the river for about 15 years and has done so "very passionately" to capture different visions of what the river could look like in the future.

"We're all in this together. The river is linked to us and we're linked to it because Washingtonians are river people," said McNeil who lives in Ward 7. "So, if you have an ill river, you have a sick community - and the two have to balance."

He said however, that residents should look at the Anacostia as New Yorkers look at Central Park. "That should be its drawing power," McNeil said, referencing the rich history - including the Underground Railroad and the city's fishing industry -that's tied to the Anacostia.

Michael Goff, who is a vice commodore for the historically black Seafarers Yacht Club in Southeast, added that it's critical to convey the importance of keeping the river clean.

Members of the Seafarers Yacht Club often use the river for boating activities. Goff, 48, of Upper Marlboro, Md., said they often see people fishing and picnicking and it's necessary to keep the river free of toxic wastes.

Goff said there are still a lot of areas of the river that need to be cleaned up, and that his club is currently working with the city to redevelop the Anacostia River Walk.

"We're revitalizing the boathouses as well and hope to see a lot of this come to fruition in the next three to five years," he said. "After all, despite its years of neglect, the Anacostia is a river of great promise."