A 115-acre historic district with its own street system, the Washington Navy Yard is the Navy's oldest outpost on shore. Established in 1799 as a shipbuilding facility, the district was burned by the Americans during the War of 1812 to keep the British from capturing the base and the four Navy ships docked there. Rebuilt and converted to weapons production by the mid-19th century, the Navy Yard became integral to the defense of Washington during the Civil War, and the
Lincoln assassination conspirators were held there. Charles Lindbergh landed at the Navy Yard after his famous transatlantic flight.
The Navy Yard gradually fell into disuse, until the 1960s when it was revived as a thriving administrative and cultural center. It currently houses the National Museum of the US Navy, which includes the Cold War Gallery. Outside the base, on 8th and I St., you can see the impressive Home of the Commandants, a mansion housing the commandant of the Marines Corps, and the historic Marine Barracks. Every Friday from May through August, the U.S. Marine Band hosts a parade of music and marching starting at 8:45 pm. It's best to make reservations in advance to secure a seat for this summer concert (www.barracks.marines.mil).
The west side of the Yard is flanked by a waterfront promenade, the Anacostia Riverwalk, which is open to pedestrian traffic Tuesday through Sunday.
On weekdays, enter the Navy Yard on 11th and O St.; on weekends, you enter on 6th and M St. Visitors 18 and older must show valid government-issued identification (a driver's license or passport). Access and ID requirements are subject to change; check the website for latest information. The Metro stations are several blocks from the entrance to Navy Yard, so prepare to walk some distance. The $1 per fare DC Circulator "Union Station to Navy Yard" route runs every day except Sunday. Personal vehicles are permitted into the Navy Yard on weekends (use the 6th and M St. entrance), and there is metered public parking under the Southeast Freeway on 8th Street. Restaurants and shopping are nearby at Barracks Row and The Yard.
National Museum of the US Navy. The Navy Museum, in Building 76 of the Navy Yard, chronicles the history of the U.S. Navy from the Revolution to the present. Exhibits range from the fully rigged foremast of the USS Constitution (better known as Old Ironsides) to a U.S. Navy Corsair fighter plane dangling from the ceiling. All around are models of fighting ships, a real Vietnam-era Swift boat, working periscopes, displays on battles, and portraits of the sailors who fought them. In front of the museum is a collection of guns, cannons, and missiles, and the decommissioned U.S. Navy destroyer USS Barry floats a short distance away on Riverwalk by the Anacostia River. The Navy Art Collection, including many works by Navy artists, is also housed in the museum. A new addition to the Navy Museum is the Cold War Gallery with exhibits that explore the Navy's response to the threat of Soviet military power and communist ideology. At the time of writing access to the museum is extremely limited and will be for the foreseeable future and all visitors must have a DOD Common Access Card (CAC) or military ID. This may change, but it's important to call before visiting to check on the current situation. Navy Yard, 805 Kidder Breese St. SE, entrance on 11th and O Sts. SE, 20374. Enter through the visitor's gate at 11th and O Sts. SE (weekdays) or 6th and M Sts. SE (weekends) and show a valid photo ID; you'll receive a pass and map of the surroundings. 202/433–3815 Museum; 202/433–4882 USS Barry. www.history.navy.mil. Free. Museum: weekdays 9–5, weekends 10–5; USS Barry: Mar.–Oct., Thurs. and Fri. 9–5, Sat. 10–5. Hours, access and ID requirements are subject to change; call or check website before visiting. Eastern Market.