National Harbor, Maryland

Coordinates: 38°47′03″N 77°00′59″W / 38.78417°N 77.01639°W / 38.78417; -77.01639
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
National Harbor
National Harbor in September 2021
National Harbor in September 2021
National Harbor is located in Maryland
National Harbor
National Harbor
Location within the state of Maryland
National Harbor is located in the United States
National Harbor
National Harbor
National Harbor (the United States)
Coordinates: 38°47′03″N 77°00′59″W / 38.78417°N 77.01639°W / 38.78417; -77.01639
Country United States
State Maryland
County Prince George's
Unincorporated areaOxon Hill
 • Total1.67 sq mi (4.32 km2)
 • Land1.27 sq mi (3.30 km2)
 • Water0.40 sq mi (1.02 km2)
 • Total5,509
 • Density4,327.57/sq mi (1,671.28/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s)301, 240
FIPS code24-55018
GNIS ID locale/CDP2426650/2583665
WebsiteOfficial website

National Harbor is a census-designated place (CDP) in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States, located along the Potomac River near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and just south of Washington, D.C. It originated as a 300-acre (1.2 km2) multi-use waterfront development. Per the 2020 census, the population was 5,509.[3]


Land use and rezoning[edit]

The land developed for National Harbor was previously Salubria Plantation,[4] built in 1827 by Dr. John H. Bayne. The plantation house burned down in 1981 and was offered for sale along with the surrounding land. The land was sold in 1984 and in 1994 was rezoned for mixed-use development.[citation needed] In the fall of 1997, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Army Corps of Engineers approved new developer permits, granted for the PortAmerica project in 1988.[5]

This development has caused considerable controversy due to its environmental impacts. The Sierra Club voiced strong objections in 1999 saying that construction of National Harbor would "prevent forever the completion of the Potomac Heritage Trail".[6] The site was linked to hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated sewage being discharged into the Potomac River in 2008.[7] In 2006, Peterson Companies withdrew plans to build a Target department store where the remaining plantation building, the slave quarters, still stand.[4]


The pedestrian walkway has statues and figures of famous American and global celebrities, including George Washington, Marilyn Monroe, and Henry Ford.

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor opened on April 1, 2008[8] in Oxon Hill, Maryland.[9] The site was developed by Milton Peterson's Peterson Companies with the project expected to cost well over $2 billion,[10] and a construction time frame of 2007 to late 2014. As of April 2016 construction was continuing and the cost was set at $4 billion.[11] In 2010, the development was designated as a census-designated place.[1]

The Walt Disney Company had announced that it would build a new resort hotel at National Harbor, but backed out of the project in November 2011.[12] In 2011, Bonnie Bick, a member of the Campaign to Reinvest in the Heart of Oxon Hill suggested preserving the remaining plantation building, and making it a part of a proposed historical loop of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, as a draw for the development.[4]

A location for the National Children's Museum opened in December 2012. The museum permanently closed in early January 2015, after having announced that it would relocate back to Washington, D.C.[13] The museum's location is now a Local Motors facility.

Aerial view of MGM National Harbor, looking towards National Harbor

On November 29, 2012, ground was broken for a Tanger Outlets shopping facility a mile east of the National Harbor waterfront, which opened in November 2013.[14] The Capital Wheel opened in the mid-year of 2014.[15]

An MGM-branded casino, called MGM National Harbor, opened at National Harbor on December 8, 2016, following voters' approval of an expansion to the state's gambling program in the November 2012 elections.[16] It was built on the south side of the Beltway, about a mile northeast of the National Harbor waterfront.

On January 12, 2015, Peterson Companies announced Local Motors planned to open a location in National Harbor.[17] On June 17, 2016, Local Motors opened their facility to the public and debuted a new vehicle named Olli.[18] The facility includes a showroom of the company's latest vehicles, interactive STEM labs for children, and retail merchandise mostly featuring the company's brand.


Capital Wheel, a Ferris wheel, at National Harbor
National Harbor viewed from the air

The site has a convention center, six hotels, restaurants, shops, and condominiums.[15] National Harbor hosted Cirque du Soleil in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 and also features outdoor activities such as a culinary festival and outdoor concerts by military bands, an outdoor movie screen facing the river, an annual ice sculpture exhibition, and a Peeps Day with a Peeps eating contest. The national spelling bee competition is held there. The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, with 2,000 rooms, is the largest hotel between New Jersey and Florida, and the largest in the Washington area. The site includes a beachfront walking path and a connection to a bike trail on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge that crosses into Alexandria, Virginia.[19][20] Amusements include a children's carousel, and the Capital Wheel,[15] a 175-foot Ferris wheel on a pier that extends into the Potomac River. There is a fast food restaurant and a gas station among the northern ramps that provide the only ways in or out of National Harbor.

In December 2016, MGM Resorts opened MGM National Harbor, a 300-room hotel as wel as a 135,000-square-foot (12,500 m2) casino, stores, a spa, restaurants, a 1,200-seat theater, a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) convention area, and a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) parking garage.[21]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[22]
2010[23] 2020[24]

2020 census[edit]

National Harbor CDP, Maryland – Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010[23] Pop 2020[24] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 496 813 13.09% 14.76%
Black or African American alone (NH) 2,411 2,984 63.65% 54.17%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 4 6 0.11% 0.11%
Asian alone (NH) 409 437 10.80% 7.93%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 2 2 0.05% 0.04%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 17 59 0.45% 1.07%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 93 226 2.46% 4.10%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 356 982 9.40% 17.83%
Total 3,788 5,509 100.00% 100.00%

2010 Census[edit]

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,788 people, 1,598 households, and 868 families residing in the census-designated place.[25] As of 2016, an estimated 7,000 staff work at National Harbor, with 3,000 more expected after the MGM Casino opens in the Fall of 2016.[26]

National Harbor with the Potomac River and Alexandria, Virginia in the background.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, National Harbor has a total area of 1.9 square miles (4.8 km2), of which 1.4 square miles (3.7 km2) is land and 0.39 square miles (1.0 km2), or 21.7% (consisting of the Potomac River), is water; 300 acres are in the actual development itself.


Start of construction for National Harbor (lower left) at the junction of the Capital Beltway and the southern terminus of the Anacostia Freeway; the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is just off the picture to the left.

The only routes in or out of National Harbor are several ramps north of the area that link it to nearby major roadways: Interstate 95/495 (the Capital Beltway), Interstate 295 (Anacostia Freeway), and Oxon Hill Road. Commuters traveling via Indian Head Highway may access National Harbor by utilizing the Oxon Hill Road exits.[27] Early critics of National Harbor argued that the site is not accessible enough to the Washington Metro, the Washington area's rapid transit system. However, local civic groups dropped a lawsuit against National Harbor's developer in exchange for assurances of greater investment in the surrounding community and better access to mass transit.[28] Three years later, the state funded over $500 million in road improvements in order to handle the 10,000 cars expected to commute daily to National Harbor.[27]

The new Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which forms part of the Capital Beltway near National Harbor, was built to allow capacity for a future Washington Metro line.[29] However, there are no current plans to extend rail over the bridge to development. Instead, the state of Maryland pays $312,000 annually for bus access to National Harbor from the Southern Avenue Metro station. In June 2008, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center asked the state to fund additional transit service because employees found it difficult to reach National Harbor.[30] In 2011, Metro began considering the possibility of building a rail extension to National Harbor off the Green Line as part of its long-term plan.[31]

Water taxi to Alexandria

A water taxi line run by the Potomac Riverboat Company connects the National Harbor to Alexandria, Virginia. The City of Alexandria also runs shuttles from the water taxi terminal to King Street – Old Town Metro station. The service costs the city about $800,000 per year.[32]

On December 15, 2022, NBC Washington reported on WMATA wanting to bring Washington Metrorail service to National Harbor. The proposed plan is to construct a Blue Line loop that "would run from a new, second Rosslyn station through Georgetown, cut across D.C. to Union Station, make a turn south for Navy Yard and Buzzard Point, run down to National Harbor, go across the Wilson Bridge, and link back up with the existing Metro system at Huntington." NBC Washington reports that WMATA "expects to have a final design available for the possible extension" sometime in 2023 and quoted WMATA General Manager Randy Clark as stating this regarding this proposed Blue Line loop: “And without federal money, we probably have no chance of ever doing this line,” he said. “So, that’s why there’s a little sense of, as a region, if we're going to do this, we have the biggest generational amount of money ever at the FTA. The time is now if we're going to do it.[33]


National Harbor is under the Prince George's County Public Schools district.[34]

Schools serving the CDP are Fort Foote Elementary School,[35] Oxon Hill Middle School,[36] and Oxon Hill High School.[37]



Panorama of National Harbor
Aerial view, 2012. On the left is Alexandria, Virginia. The Wilson Bridge crosses the Potomac River to Maryland at center. To the top right, the Anacostia Freeway extends north to Washington from National Harbor. The Casino site is the rectangular area east of the interchange.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: National Harbor, Michigan
  2. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 26, 2022.
  3. ^ "National Harbor CDP, Maryland". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Waite, Andrew (March 3, 2011). "Forgotten Oxon Hill plantation celebrates county's black heritage, historians say". Gazette. Post Community Media, LLC. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "National Harbor a threat to the Potomac". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  6. ^ "The Wilson Crossing: A Better Vision". The Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter. April 26, 1999. Archived from the original on June 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
  7. ^ Zapotosky, Matt (June 23, 2008). "Residents Blame National Harbor for Sewage Spills". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
  8. ^ "Gaylord National Resort opens". Virginia Business. June 1, 2008. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  9. ^ Berger, Judson (March 29, 2007). "National Harbor designers envision a bustling attraction". Gazette. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  10. ^ "Grand Vision for National Harbor Takes Form". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  11. ^ Washington Post, 04apr16, page b1
  12. ^ Heath, Thomas (November 25, 2011). "In a blow to Prince George's, Disney backs out of National Harbor". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  13. ^ Cooper, Rachel (October 7, 2015). "National Children's Museum - Washington, DC". Tripsavvy. About. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  14. ^ "Opening day of Tanger Outlets at National Harbor lures shoppers before dawn". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  15. ^ a b c Cooper, Rachel (April 20, 2016). "National Harbor: Shop, Dine and Play Along the Potomac". About Travel. About. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  16. ^ Wagner, John (8 May 2013). "MGM confirms plans to bid for Prince George's County casino". Washington Post. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  17. ^ "Local Motors To Open Location at National Harbor - National Harbor". National Harbor. Peterson Companies. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  18. ^ Rachel, Kurzius. "Meet Olli, The Driverless Vehicle Cruising Around National Harbor". DCist. Archived from the original on 18 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  19. ^ "Alexandria Restoration Project". UAC Restoration Group. 2011-09-30.
  20. ^ Miller, Stephen (2009-06-09). "National Harbor to cyclists, pedestrians: Drop dead". Greater Greater Washington. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  21. ^ Stutz, HOWARD. "At Maryland's National Harbor, MGM Resorts wants to fit in — and stand out". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  22. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing by Decades". US Census Bureau.
  23. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – National Harbor CDP, Maryland". United States Census Bureau.
  24. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – National Harbor CDP, Maryland". United States Census Bureau.
  25. ^ "GENERAL PROFILE 1: PERSONS BY RACE, AGE, AND SEX; URBAN AND RURAL: National Harbor CDP, Maryland" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  26. ^ Washington Post, Metro, April 3, 2016, "Eight years after opening, National Harbor anticipates new life after MGM"
  27. ^ a b Wiggins, Ovetta (2007-06-09). "Direct Access Planned For National Harbor". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  28. ^ Wiggins, Ovetta (2004-08-12). "National Harbor Suit Dropped". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-02-02.[dead link]
  29. ^ "Region Needs New Potomac River Bridge". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-09-24.
  30. ^ Wiggins, Ovetta (2008-06-04). "Gaylord Resort Asks for More Transit Service". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  31. ^ "Metro planners contemplate system's second generation". Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  32. ^ Downey, Kirstin (2008-04-01). "Tourism Hopes Riding On Alexandria Trolley". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  33. ^ Tuss • •, Adam. "Metro Weighs Building Blue Line Loop to Ease Crowding at Rosslyn, Including Georgetown, National Harbor Stops". NBC4 Washington. Retrieved 2023-01-16.
  34. ^ "2010 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: National Harbor CDP, MD." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 2, 2018.
  35. ^ "NEIGHBORHOOD ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AND BOUNDARIES SCHOOL YEAR 2018-2019." Prince George's County Public Schools. Retrieved on September 2, 2018.
  36. ^ "NEIGHBORHOOD MIDDLE SCHOOLS AND BOUNDARIES SCHOOL YEAR 2018-2019." Prince George's County Public Schools. Retrieved on September 2, 2018.
  37. ^ "NEIGHBORHOOD HIGH SCHOOLS AND BOUNDARIES SCHOOL YEAR 2018-2019." Prince George's County Public Schools. Retrieved on September 2, 2018.

External links[edit]