Social and Environmental Justice in Waterfront Redevelopment: The Anacostia River, Washington, D.C.

Nufar Avni, Raphaël Fischler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Waterfront redevelopment projects have often been criticized for prioritizing attractive skylines and glittering facades over the needs of local communities. Recently, however, they have increasingly seen goals of social and environmental justice integrated into their vision statements. This article focuses on the redevelopment of the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. Since the early 2000s, the formerly neglected and contaminated river has been at the center of extensive regeneration efforts through the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative (AWI). We examine to what extent the AWI has helped to overcome inequities between the two disparate sides of the river. To answer this question, we build on interviews, analysis of planning documents, and site visits. Examining efforts toward both social and environmental justice, we show the convergence of the two but also the contradictions that arise between them. The findings suggest that employing a joint social and environmental justice approach to analyze waterfront redevelopments is important to reveal these tensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1779-1810
Number of pages32
JournalUrban Affairs Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Anacostia River
  • Washington, D.C
  • environmental justice
  • social justice
  • waterfront redevelopment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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