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Captain America obliterates Rosslyn and Roosevelt Island

If you're like me, then you're probably pretty excited for the next Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier, coming out in April. Set in a reimagined DC, the film has a very different vision of Arlington's waterfront:

Helicarriers in the Potomac. Screencap by Rob Bricken on i09.

One of the things that piqued my interest was that S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Helicarriers, or flying aircraft carriers, are supposedly manufactured and stored underneath the Potomac right where the Orange and Blue Line tunnels are. That would certainly explain some of the delays on my daily commute!

Science fiction blog io9 screencapped an entire trailer of the film, giving us a better look at what that facility looks like. Above is an overhead shot of the Helicarrier facility.

In the film, the Georgetown side of the Potomac looks much the same, but the Arlington side looks very different. It looks like the Helicarrier facility has replaced part or all of Roosevelt Island, whose worth as a park and nature preserve is apparently less valuable than our need to have flying ships that can be blown up by demi-gods, possessed archers, and Hulks.

The Rosslyn skyline is missing, as well as I-66 and the George Washington Parkway which have been replaced with shorter office buildings. But maybe those were just moved underground. It's clear that at least one high-rise remains in Arlington, as we see Robert Redford's character looking out of his office window towards the National Mall.

Looking out across the Potomac. Screencap by Rob Bricken.

At least fans of DC's height limit can look forward to this film, unlike the disappointment they probably felt at the end of Terminator 2.

Canaan Merchant was born and raised in Powhatan, Virginia and attended George Mason University where he studied English. He became interested in urban design and transportation issues when listening to a presentation by Jeff Speck while attending GMU. He has lived all over Northern Virginia and now lives in Burke.  


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This is exactly what DC needs to balance out it's economy, HEAVY INDUSTRY.

But lets be fair, the dry-docks would be in Anacostia.

by Richard on Feb 7, 2014 12:58 pm • linkreport

Looks like they mostly obliterated Teddy Roosevelt Island:

by Campy on Feb 7, 2014 1:24 pm • linkreport

Looks like they also obliterated the Blue/Orange tunnel.

by ah on Feb 7, 2014 1:38 pm • linkreport

Admittedly I'm not terribly familiar with the genre, but why would helicarriers need to be on the water? Isn't the point that they fly?

by BTA on Feb 7, 2014 1:41 pm • linkreport

Doesn't look very bike-friendly.

by Crickey7 on Feb 7, 2014 1:41 pm • linkreport

@BTA - the helicarriers are docked under the Potomac, but they fly up into the air/set sail from there.

by 7r3y3r on Feb 7, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport

@BTAAdmittedly I'm not terribly familiar with the genre, but why would helicarriers need to be on the water? Isn't the point that they fly?

I presume they need a dry dock for the same reason most ships need dry docks. They weigh so much and are incapable of being supported on land(the pressure from a few points of contact would buckle parts of their hull).

Now knowing they can fly, they could be constructed on a specially designed base pad that would evenly distribute their weight and not damage them. Of course this would mean they would HAVE to fly on and off of it and even in the distant make believe of comic books perhaps flying is more expensive than floating or perhaps it is just in case one of these super expensive behemoths gets damaged, cannot fly anymore, and needs to limp back to base for repair.

In short, no it isnt required that they have a dry dock, but if there is a reason they would every be in the water, and not flying about then a dry dock might make some sense.

by Richard on Feb 7, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport


You read too much into the engineering and not enough into the most obvious and simple reason the drydocks are in the river: Political compromise.

Yes, Mayor-For-Life Barry (the once and future mayor of DC) maintained a very popular effort to have the drydocks built along the Anacostia waterfront but his efforts were for naught when Congress decided that after the Great Snowstorm of 2014, the south needed something more to bolster their economy.

What better way to bolster an economy than the building of massive drydocks for helicopters in a river? Makes perfect sense, no? But the the Senators from the northern states reminded Congress who the victors were in the War of Northern Aggression and required the drydocks to be built within walking distance of at least one Metro station.

A great compromise was reached when the designers, not wanting to have to redraw their plans which were intended for the Chattahoochee River, realized everyone could be made happy by nuking Roosevelt Island (no one protested except the beavers) and building the drydocks in the resulting crater.


by R. Heinlein on Feb 7, 2014 2:16 pm • linkreport

Kinda bummed out to see the Whitehurst Freeway still in place though...

by ontarioroader on Feb 7, 2014 2:45 pm • linkreport

And where is the gondola?

by BTA on Feb 7, 2014 2:49 pm • linkreport

I'd also like to point out that with the gates open and restricting the river to such a narrow channel that flooding would begin almost immediately. And once the roof closed again you'd have a huge surge rush down the rest of the river.

It's hard to see how you could have National Airport operational at all with this setup.

by Canaan on Feb 7, 2014 3:01 pm • linkreport

I wonder if the building on the left is supposed to be an upgraded pentagon, they just overshot by a bit.

At least the Washington harbor doesn't have to put up their flood walls when the helicarriers take off

by Pruds on Feb 7, 2014 3:43 pm • linkreport

This is why communities need to hold the line on Historic Preservation, one day, you are allowing someone to demolish a loathed heating plant or brutalist church, the next, someone has placed a helicarrier base in the middle of your river/nature preserve. You notice that Georgetown retains its historic character and charm despite Arlington's willingness to forsake their waterfront for economic development... typical NoVa.

by Will Handsfield on Feb 7, 2014 3:48 pm • linkreport

Well, it would have made for a very simple Environmental Impact Assessment.

by Crickey7 on Feb 7, 2014 4:09 pm • linkreport

+1 Will

This sort of makes living in National Airport's flight path charming, no?

by JDC on Feb 7, 2014 4:14 pm • linkreport

On the other hand, helicarriers...

by BTA on Feb 7, 2014 5:01 pm • linkreport

In the future, rational land planning will still be thwarted by idiot bureaucrats who insist on putting hazardous uses in the middle of population centers.

by Bucky on Feb 8, 2014 5:24 pm • linkreport

At least they took out Rosslyn's ugly skyscrapers.

by Rich on Feb 9, 2014 12:38 am • linkreport

Looks like they changed the course of the river quite a bit starting in the vicinity of Three Sisters.

by Frank IBC on Feb 9, 2014 4:33 pm • linkreport

If you look at other clips from the trailers, Rosslyn's still there — twin towers and all. Roosevelt Island and a big chunk of the Potomac, however....

by Matt L on Feb 10, 2014 8:44 am • linkreport

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