Georgetown Neighborhood Overview
Georgetown is a historic neighborhood, commercial, and entertainment district located innorthwest Washington, D.C., situated along the Potomac River. Founded in 1751 in the state ofMaryland, the port of Georgetown predated the establishment of the federal district and the City of Washington by 40 years. Georgetown remained a separate municipality until 1871, when the United States Congress created a new consolidated government for the whole District of Columbia. A separate act passed in 1895 specifically repealed Georgetown’s remaining local ordinances andrenamed Georgetown’s streets to conform with those in the City of Washington.
The primary commercial corridors of Georgetown are the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue & M Street, which contain high-end shops, bars, restaurants, and the Georgetown Park enclosed shopping mall, as well as the Washington Harbour waterfront restaurants at K Street, NW, between 30th and 31st Streets. Georgetown is home to the main campus of Georgetown University and numerous other landmarks, such as the Volta Bureau and the Old Stone House, the oldest unchanged building in Washington. The embassies of France, Mongolia, Sweden, Thailand, andUkraine are located in Georgetown.
Georgetown is bounded by the Potomac River on the south, Rock Creek to the east, Burleith and Glover Park to the north, with Georgetown University on the west end of the neighborhood. Much of Georgetown is surrounded by parkland and green space that serve as buffers from development in adjacent neighborhoods, and provide recreation. Rock Creek Park, the Oak Hill Cemetery, Montrose Park and Dumbarton Oaks are located along the north and east edge of Georgetown, east of Wisconsin Avenue. The neighborhood is situated on bluffs overlooking the Potomac River. As a result, there are some rather steep grades on streets running north-south. The famous “Exorcist steps” connecting M Street to Prospect Street were necessitated by the hilly terrain of the neighborhood.
The primary commercial corridors of Georgetown are M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, whose high fashionstores draw large numbers of tourists as well as local shoppers year-round. There is also the Washington Harbour complex on K Street, on the waterfront, featuring outdoor bars and restaurants popular for viewing boat races. Between M and K Streets runs the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, today plied only by tour boats; adjacent trails are popular with joggers or strollers.
Georgetown’s transportation importance was defined by its location just below the fall line of the Potomac River. The Aqueduct Bridge (and later, the Francis Scott Key Bridge) connected Georgetown with Virginia. Before the Aqueduct Bridge was built, a ferry service owned by John Mason connected Georgetown to Virginia. In 1788, a bridge was constructed over Rock Creek to connect Bridge Street (M Street) with the Federal City.
Georgetown was located at the juncture of the Alexandria Canal and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The C&O Canal, begun in Georgetown in 1829, reached Cumberland, Maryland in 1851, and operated until 1924.Wisconsin Avenue is on the alignment of the tobacco hogshead rolling road from rural Maryland, and the Federal Customs House was located on 31st Street (now utilized as the post office). The city’s oldest bridge, the sandstone bridge which carries Wisconsin Avenue over the C&O Canal, and which dates to 1831, was reopened to traffic on May 16, 2007, after a $3.5 million restoration. It is the only remaining bridge of five constructed in Georgetown by the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Company.
Several streetcar lines and interurban railways interchanged passengers in Georgetown. The station was located in front of the stone wall on Canal Road (currently occupied by a gas station) adjacent to the Exorcist steps, and the former D.C. Transit car barn at the end of the Key Bridge. Four suburban Virginia lines, connecting through Rosslyn, Virginia, provided links from the D.C. streetcar network to Mount Vernon,Falls Church, Great Falls, Fairfax, Vienna, Leesburg, and Purcellville. Streetcar operations in Washington, D.C. ended January 28, 1962. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad built a branch line from Silver Spring, Maryland, to Water Street in Georgetown in an abortive attempt to construct a southern connection to Alexandria, Virginia. The line served as an industrial line, shipping coal to a General Services Administration power plant on K Street (now razed) until 1985. The abandoned right-of-way has since been converted into the Capital Crescent Trail – a rails-to-trails route – and the power plant into a condo.
There is no Metro station in Georgetown. The planners of the Metro never seriously considered locating a station in the neighborhood, primarily due to the engineering issues presented by the extremely steep grade from the Potomac River (under which the subway tunnel would run) to the center of Georgetown. Some Georgetown residents concerned about outsiders entering their wealthy neighborhood wrote letters against a station, but no serious plans for a station were ever drafted in the first place. Since the Metro’s opening, there have been occasional discussions about adding an additional subway line and tunnel under the Potomac to service the area. Three stations are located roughly one mile from the center of Georgetown: Rosslyn (across the Key Bridge in Arlington), Foggy Bottom-GWU, and Dupont Circle. Georgetown is served by the 30-series, D-Series, and G2 Metrobuses, as well as the DC Circulator.
Several movies have been filmed in Georgetown, including 1973 horror film The Exorcist, which was set in the neighborhood and partially filmed there. In the movie’s climactic scene, the protagonist is hurled down the 75-step staircase at the end of 36th Street NW, which connects Prospect Street with M Street below. The staircase has come to be known as the “Exorcist steps”. A false front was built onto the house at the top of the steps so that the bedroom windows would immediately overlook the steps. The real structure is considerably set-back.
The 1985 Brat Pack film St. Elmo’s Fire was set in Georgetown, though the campus fraternity row portions were filmed at the University of Maryland campus in College Park.(Like most Jesuit colleges, Georgetown Universitydoes not recognize fraternities or sororities, though several exist.)
The 1987 film No Way Out featured a Georgetown Metro stop as a plot device, even though no such station exists; the subway station shots were filmed in Baltimore, Maryland. Chase scenes for the movie were shot on the Whitehurst Freeway. Other movies with scenes in Georgetown are The Man with One Red Shoe (1985, an early Tom Hanks film),Chances Are (1989), Timecop (1994), True Lies (1994), Dave (1993), The Jackal (1997, private homes), Enemy of the State (1998), Spy Games (2001), Dick (1999, C&O Canal), Election (1999), Minority Report (2002), The Recruit (2003), The Girl Next Door (2004), Wedding Crashers (2005), and Transformers (2007). Although Burn After Reading (2008) featured Georgetown prominently, filming was done in Brooklyn, New York.
(courtesy of Wikipedia)
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