Sidewalks of Shame – An Analysis

GM had a snow day yesterday and took the opportunity to walk around Georgetown and take stock of the sidewalks and roads. His findings: Most residents held up their end of the deal, but it only takes one bad apple on a street to cancel out the efforts of its neighbors.  But residents were head and shoulders above businesses, who have left most of the sidewalks on M and Wisconsin almost untouched by shovel or salt.

Ideally a sidewalk should be shoveled down to the brick. For the record, that is exactly what GM did in front of his home:

Not everyone has a shovel good enough to scrape the snow off the bricks (although GM was doing a pretty handy job using a pizza peel until his neighbor lent him a shovel).  After a storm like last weekend’s blizzard, it seems acceptable to have a thin layer of packed snow.  If that’s the case, you still ought to throw down some (pet-friendly) salt to make sure you don’t end up with a sheet of ice.

But a disappointing number of residents and businesses failed to meet even that lax standard.  With all the entrepreneurs running around offering to shovel your sidewalk, to do nothing truly earns you the Sidewalk of Shame title.

GM took a random walk through the village and came across several Sidewalks of Shame:

R St. between Avon and 31st.

Reservoir and 32nd. This is a classic example of the negligent corner-house owner. They cleared out the sidewalk in front of their door but completely ignored the Reservoir St. side.  If you don’t like it, I’m sure there are plenty of non-corner lot homeowners that would be happy to trade houses with you.

Reservoir and Wisconsin. This is the bottom of that giant estate next to the Georgetown Library. They did absolutely nothing on the south side. This is lazy and anti-social. Whoever owns that gigantic property can afford to pay someone to shovel the snow on both sides. Again, if that’s too much to ask, GM is happy to trade homes with you.

Reservoir and Wisconsin. This is the north side of A Mano. They cleared the sidewalk in front of the store but did nothing to the north side. Not very neighborly.

Wisconsin Ave. With a few notable exceptions, this was pretty much the scene everywhere on Wisconsin Ave. A path was beaten through the snow, but it was far from even and would be treacherous for anyone with mobility issues. The longer they wait, the more that rough trail will turn into an icy rough trail. It is somewhat understandable that shop keepers were unable to come in before today to clear the sidewalk. But arrangements could have been made. GM puts a lot of the blame on the BID. They should have coordinated the effort.

31st St. below R St. This is an example of another common phenomenon. As you may be able to see, there is a broken tree branch across the sidewalk at the top of the photo. It seems that a lot of homeowners used the presence of a tree branch as an excuse for not shoveling. Yes a full blown fallen tree is a good reason to come up short. A stray tree branch isn’t.

R St. and Wisconsin Ave. This is the beautiful Second Empire house on the northeast corner of R and Wisconsin. Notice that they have a lovely plowed driveway. The sidewalk, on the other hand, is absolutely untouched. Why does it seem the more expensive the house, the more irresponsible the behavior?

R St. between Avon and 31st St. The District itself is not pulling its weight either. Nothing has been done in front of the Jackson School and the Hurt Home. Not much has been done to R St. itself either, and plowing streets should be the main concern of DDOT. But the city cannot completely ignore city-owned property. What makes this even worse is that across the street the Park Service has done nothing to clear the northern sidewalk either. So between Avon Place and Lover’s Lane, there is nowhere to walk on R St. except the street. (For the record, NPS had workers out clearing walkways inside Montrose Park on Saturday. But they ignored the sidewalk.)

N and 27th. This is from a reader who reports that these residents cleared a path for themselves but did nothing to the rest of the sidewalk. Everyone else on the block cleared a path.

N and 27th. Alexander Memorial Baptist Church. Churches face the same issue that businesses do, namely nobody lives there who can wake up and clear the sidewalk. That said, by Sunday afternoon they should have made arrangements to have the sidewalk cleared. They didn’t. Add one more Sidewalk of Shame.

So if you see your house on this list, you are being a bad neighbor! Clear your sidewalks!

Please send in your own snapshots of Sidewalks of Shame to




Filed under Snow

8 responses to “Sidewalks of Shame – An Analysis

  1. We have no sidewalk on our side of the street, but our neighbors on the OTHER side of the street completely cleared everything, and then everyone on OUR side dug little tunnels across the road as close down to the actual pavement as we could so we could connect to their side. From experience those who have lived here awhile know that our part of the village never, EVER gets plowed or even looked at by the city.

  2. Gtown student

    Georgetown students aren’t always evil….lots of shoveled sidewalks near campus!

  3. East Georgetowner

    Alexander Memorial Baptist Church cleared their portion of the sidewalk yesterday, which was much appreciated.

  4. Old Georgetowner

    Since I brought this up earlier in a related thread, let me say that a certain ditzy NYT columnist on N Street west of Wisconsin had, as of this afternoon, a scrupulously shoveled and salted walk.

  5. Hallock

    The sidewalks all around the Divine Science Church of Healing (35th & Wisc) are the worst I’ve seen – huge mounds that have to be scaled and only shoveling was from Wisc to the front door.
    I’ll take photos later but am calling now.

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  7. CambridgePLACE

    I also noticed that corner lots seemed to be the biggest violaters. I do appreciate the ones that not only shovel their sidewalks but clear a path to the street.

    The little development off P between 30 and 31st actually BLOCKED the P Street sidewalk (north side) with a wall of snow where they had cleared their street. You had to walk walk over the snow to get off the sidewalk, then walk in the street and back over the snow to get off back on the sidewalk.

    I also agree that the BID should do more to make sure the businesses are getting their sidewalks shoveled.

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