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TransPotomac Canal Center
Virginia Cultural Site
A striking cluster of modern buildings occupies the site of the original river lock of the Alexandria Canal, which connected Alexandria to Georgetown and the C&O Canal. The tide lock of the canal was one of four locks that lowered boats nearly 40 feet from the C&O Canal level to Alexandria. The tide lock was excavated during construction of the TransPotomac Center and re-created on the site. Three other locks are buried nearby. Above the locks, the canal ran on level ground from Alexandria to Rosslyn, where it crossed to Georgetown by Aqueduct. The Alexandria Canal carried boats with coal from Western Maryland to wharves in Alexandria, where the coal was loaded onto ships. The seven-mile canal operated from 1843 to 1886.
Just north of the canal lock is "Promenade Classique," a sculpture garden created by Anne and Patrick Poirier, French artists who incorporate archaeological and mythological references in their works. The artwork discovery begins with a glimpse through marble boulders and white birch trees of a monumental bronze arrow, which pierces a multi-tiered water fountain. A brick plaza leads to a rectangular pool containing a carved human mouth with water spewing from its lips. A cascading waterfall leads to twin spiral staircases and a grotto of sculpted ruins overlooking an amphitheater and culminating in a 40-foot high marble obelisk, reminiscent of the nearby Washington Monument.