Georgetown

Georgetown is a historic neighborhood, commercial, and entertainment district located in northwest Washington, D.C., situated along the Potomac River. Founded in 1751, 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 A separate act passed in 1895 specifically repealed Georgetown’s remaining local ordinances and renamed Georgetown’s streets to conform with those in the City of Washington.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 FranceMongoliaSwedenThailand, and Ukraine are located in Georgetown.

Georgetown is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in Washington and home to many of the politicians and lobbyists. Georgetown’s landmark waterfront district’s was further revitalized in 2003 and includes upscale hotels such as a Westin, a Ritz-Carlton, and a Four Seasons.  Georgetown’s highly traveled commercial district is home to a variety of specialty retailers and fashionable boutiques.

Notable residents

Thomas Jefferson lived for some time in Georgetown while serving as vice president under President John Adams.  Georgetown was home to Francis Scott Key who arrived as a young lawyer in 1808 and resided on M Street. Dr. William Beanes, a relative of Key, captured the rear guard of the British Army while it was burning Washington during the War of 1812. When the mass of the army retreated, they retrieved their imprisoned guard and took Dr. Beanes as a captive to their fleet near Baltimore. Key went to the fleet to request the release of Beanes, was held until the bombardment of Fort McHenry was completed, and gained the inspiration for “The Star-Spangled Banner“.

Alexander Graham Bell‘s earliest switching office for the Bell System was located on a site just below the C&O Canal, and it remains in use as a phone facility to this day. Bell originally moved to Georgetown due to the numerous legal hearings related to telephone patents, but then later created the Volta Laboratory and stayed on due to the area’s profusion of scientific and technical organizations which became established in the region.

John F. Kennedy lived in Georgetown in the 1950s as both a Congressman and a Senator. Parties hosted by his wife, Jackie, and many other Georgetown hostesses drew political elites away from downtown clubs and hotels or the upper 16th Street corridor. Kennedy went to his presidential inauguration from his townhouse at 3307 N Street in January 1961.

Current residents include Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, past Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee, Washington Post Watergate reporter and current assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Montana Senator Max Baucus, among others.

Geography

The Washington Harbour complex located on the Potomac River. Healy Hall is visible in the background.

Georgetown is bounded by the Potomac River on the south, Rock Creek to the east, Burleith and Glover Park to the north, withGeorgetown 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 fashion stores 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.

Transportation

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 line 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 VernonFalls ChurchGreat FallsFairfaxViennaLeesburg, 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. It 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 (1.6 km) 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.

Education

Georgetown University

The main campus of Georgetown University is located on the western edge of the Georgetown neighborhood. Father John Carroll founded Georgetown University as a Jesuit private university in 1789, though its roots extend back to 1634.  Although the school struggled financially in its early years, Georgetown expanded into a branched university after theAmerican Civil War under the leadership of university president Patrick Francis Healy. As of 2007, the university has6,853 undergraduate students and 4,490 graduate students on the main campus.

The main campus is just over 100 acres (0.4 km²) in area and includes 58 buildings, student residences capable of accommodating 80 percent of undergraduates, various athletic facilities, and the medical school.  Most buildings employcollegiate Gothic architecture and Georgian brick architecture. Campus green areas include fountains, a cemetery, large clusters of flowers, groves of trees, and open quadrangles.   The main campus has traditionally centered on Dahlgren Quadrangle, although Red Square has replaced it as the focus of student life.  Healy Hall, built in Flemish Romanesquestyle from 1877 to 1879, is the architectural gem of Georgetown’s campus, and is a National Historic Landmark.

Primary and secondary education

Throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries the concentration of wealth in Georgetown sparked the growth of many university-preparatory schools in and around the neighborhood. One of the first schools was the Columbian Academy on N Street, which was established in 1781 with Reverend Stephen Balch serving as the headmaster.

Private schools currently located in Georgetown include Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, while nearby is the eponymousGeorgetown Day SchoolGeorgetown Preparatory School, while founded in Georgetown, moved in 1915 to its present location several miles north of Georgetown in Montgomery County.

District of Columbia Public Schools operates area public schools, including Hyde Elementary School on O Street.  Hardy Middle School and Wilson High School both serve Georgetown.

The District of Columbia Public Library operates the Georgetown Neighborhood Library.

All information about Georgetown courtesy of Wikipedia.

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