There is no Georgetown conspiracy to keep out POCs.


M Street and Wisconsin Avenue, Georgetown.

Before moving to Columbia Heights, I lived in Georgetown, a neighborhood I have always loved without any embarrassment or hesitation. I can’t count how many times I was either teased or questioned about being a POC (Person of color) living in the one part of the city where “they don’t want minorities”; then I’d hear a familiar tale about “the only reason Georgetown isn’t on the Metro is to keep it white.” I’d sigh and explain that while that theory was popular, it was a myth; there were logistical issues behind the lack of trains in popped-collar-land. Besides, when I lived there, there were plenty of teenagers roaming M Street or Wisconsin Avenue– and they were minorities. So it’s not like the lack of a metro stop was a particularly effective strategy for keeping the chocolate away from the vanilla.

I see that the Georgetown Metropolitan is sick of that unnecessarily divisive and inaccurate explanation as well, since he tackled it admirably in his post, “All You Need to Know About the Georgetown Metro Stop“.

Why There is No Georgetown Metro

If you take anything away from this article, please let it be this: the reason there is no Metro station in Georgetown has absolutely nothing to do with neighborhood opposition. Nothing. No “rich Georgetowners wanted to keep out minorities”-conspiracy. No matter how much it fits with the popular stereotype, it’s just not true.

As rigorously documented in Zachary Schrag’s Great Society Subway, the planners behind Metro simply never seriously considered putting a station in Georgetown. The reason: the Potomac. To get under the river, the Metro tunnel has to start heading down far enough away so that it’s not like a roller-coaster.

Commercial Georgetown is very close to the river and on a steep hill, which wouldn’t give the tunnel much distance to reemerge from underneath the river. Thus a Georgetown station would be extremely deep. It would be physically possible to build, but it would be extremely expensive…That’s it. No matter how affirming of all the stereotypes of Georgetowners the myth is, it’s absolutely false.

See? Blame the Potomac, not racism. D.C. has many real issues with regards to race and class that need to be addressed; we don’t need to invent– or in this case, perpetuate– fake ones.

  • KH

    If you’re interested in the history of the city at all, this is a really good book to read. The cover might look like it would be a dry, boring read, but there’s a lot to learn about our city there. And, it just makes a lot of things about Metro make sense. Like – who would planned such a messed up governance/funding system? Read the book and you find out everyone knew it wasn’t a great governance system from the get, go – but they needed to put something together before a particular deadline (can’t remember if it was elections or bureaucratic) or the whole deal would fall apart. So, there you go. Or, wonder why L’Enfant Plaza is such a pain to navigate with a wheel chair or stroller? The oldest stations were designed pre-ADA and then retrofitted. You can read how the then head of the system borrowed a wheelchair and rolled himself on and down an escallator to prove how elevators were an unnecessary accomodation! And, to think, now if you put a stroller on an escallator they yell at you to use the elevator ;) .

  • Anna John

    Wow! What a great recommendation– now I really want to read this. I am definitely interested in the history of the city, as well as mobility issues. In 2007, I had to spend six months in a huge leg brace, and it was a depressing, humbling lesson in what the disabled have to face every day. The escalators were the worst. Thank you so much for this comment!

  • Anonymous

    Second, it is a great read.

  • historystudent

    Thanks for the great post. Readers may be interested in the following book for more information and a historical perspective on African Americans in Georgetown. It is a rich and complex history.
    Black Georgetown Remembered: A History of Its Black Community From the Founding of “The Town of George” in 1751 to the Present Day
    by Kathleen M. Lesko, Valerie Babb, Carroll R. Gibbs