As one of the most storied neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., Georgetown is frequently perceived by tourists as a stately and affluent area — home to senators, congressmen, diplomats, and legendary hostesses. Within the Beltway, however, there is a longstanding perception that Georgetown has two sides: the East Village (East of Wisconsin Avenue NW) and the area to the West. The popular notion is that the rich inhabit grand estates in the East while the less privileged live in the West Village. Some longstanding residents scoff at this theory, noting traffic and crime as bigger issues.
The East side of Georgetown does offer the convenience of walking distance to Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom, giving residents easier access to the Metro. Despite movies such as the 1987 “No Way Out” with bad guys chasing Kevin Costner down a Georgetown subway escalator, there is no Georgetown metro stop. And it is true that the West side is filled with Georgetown University students, who typically care less about upkeep of their property. Yet each side boasts its moneyed residents. Sens. John Kerr and Max Baucus have houses on the West side — former Sen. John Edwards recently sold his West-side manse. Famous journalists Ben Bradlee, Sally Quinn, and Bob Woodward all claim the East side as home. Prominent West Village estates include Halcyon House and Prospect House. In fact, some of the most historic Federal period homes are located on N,O, and P Streets, NW in the West. Not to be outdone, the East Village features Evermay, the lavish Dumbarton Oaks, and Tudor Place.
The East side also features a number of smaller properties that were built for the free Blacks and slaves, a vestige of Georgetown’s history as a thriving African-American community. Georgetown’s history predates that of the capital city. The community was founded as a tobacco port by two men named George (perhaps foreshadowing the divide) during the reign of George II. The actual city of George Town evolved over time and was incorporated into the District of Columbia after Maryland gave up the territory to help create the nation’s capital city. In 1967, the neighborhood was declared a National Historic Landmark.
Regardless of the light-hearted dispute, residents agree that parking is always challenging and finding a property under half-a-million dollars is even more of a challenge these days.