Georgetown began in the 1740s as a tobacco port, where ships departed for Britain, Europe and the West Indies filled with flour, lumber, coal, grain and, above all, tobacco. The fine harbor brought visitors and goods and, with them, prosperity and acclaim. Warehouses and mills flourished here, but eventually the waterfront became saturated with noxious odors, soot and waste as industries produced an unsightly collection of abandoned warehouses, junk yards, salt piles and parking lots. In 1949 construction of an elevated highway required demolition of several historic structures. Dismay at the loss of these buildings hastened passage of the Old Georgetown Act of 1950, which preserved the character of Georgetown above M Street - but not below. Finally, in 1967 the Georgetown waterfront was designated a National Historical Landmark, but misuse and neglect continued for years until the courts allowed rezoning.A number of creative architects and developers responded by preserving and adapting the remaining old buildings with imaginative designs. Architect Arthur Cotton Moore was one of the first. In 1970 he converted a derelict 19th-century warehouse on 31st Street to the lively office and art center known as Canal Square. In 2003 developer Anthony Lanier, with architects Gary F. Handel and Shalom Baranes, preserved the brick incinerator
across the street by wrapping a hotel lobby around its 130-foot-tall smokestack. The Washington Harbour complex behind you, constructed as a modern complement to the many restored K Street structures that have made the Georgetown waterfront a popular tourist destination and scenic place to live.