Don Rockwell Does North Georgetown

Photo by Biberfan.

Restaurant-scene “power player” Don Rockwell recently took on that nebulous section of Wisconsin Ave often referred to as north Georgetown. (Actually it wasn’t that recently. It was back in November, but it was recently tweeted).

Rockwell walks the reader through the stretch:

We have to define what, exactly, “North Georgetown” is.

It can be loosely defined as the area between Glover Park and Georgetown, but what does that mean?

The easiest way to “understand” the notion of North Georgetown is to begin at the southern edge of Glover Park, near the Holiday Inn. There is a natural geographical division here, bisecting Wisconsin Avenue with parkland: the Dumbarton Oaks / Naval Observatory area is on the east, and the Whitehaven / Holy Rood Cemetery area is on the west. There is very much of a “gap” here in terms of Wisconsin Avenue development, and this is where “North Georgetown” begins.

He then walks down through the restaurants giving brief mentions to each. Bistrot Lepic and Cafe Divan stand out for praise. GM thinks Rockwell is a little hard on Los Cuates, which is a perfectly good neighborhood Mexican restaurant.

What Rockwell really gets wrong, though, is his belief that “Georgetown proper” somehow ends at Reservoir (he calls Book Hill Bistro the most northern sit-down restaurant in Georgetown).

This is wrong. Georgetown “proper” definitely encapsulates Wisconsin Ave. north of Reservoir, all the way to Whitehaven. While arguments over neighborhood boundaries are normally just an opportunity to disagree over an opinion, in this case there’s federal law to decide it.

As GM has pointed out before, the Old Georgetown Act sets forth clear boundaries of historic Georgetown (the Georgetown Historic District, as defined by DC law, has the same boundaries). And they clearly include Wisconsin Ave. all the way up to Whitehaven.

Interestingly, if anything the boundary of Georgetown is even further north. Many (including GM) criticize the real-estatese that describes Glover Park as “North Georgetown”. But there’s a shred of truth to it. When Georgetown was an independent municipality before 1871, its boundaries went all the way up to Calvert St. But what eventually would become Glover Park was nothing but open fields and stray farmhouses.

Glover Park (and Burleith) were new neighborhoods built in the 20th century on this open space which had ceased having a Georgetown address after the merger. When Congress decided to draw a line around historic Georgetown, it recognized this distinction.

Which is all a long, long-winded way of saying that the most northern sit-down restaurant in Georgetown is Cafe Divan, not Book Hill Bistro (which has been closed since December anyway).


Filed under History

2 responses to “Don Rockwell Does North Georgetown

  1. Nemo

    A Georgetown matron long since gathered to her reward once told me that the neighborhood between roughly Wisconsin Avenue and 35th Street on the east and west, and R Street on the south, had been known at “Brown Town,” or “Brown’s Town.” Perhaps this could be verified, revived, and applied to North Georgetown. Alternatively, the contemporary trend of concocting catchy acronyms for new neighborhods that were previously unnamed (think NoMa and BeDuCi), might also be applied here — “NoGeo” (pronounced “NoJo,”), anyone?

  2. Don Rockwell here. I’m gobsmacked (in a good way!) that a venerable publication such as The Georgetown Metropolitan would take my little stroll, and write about it. You’re correct: I was wrong to say “Georgetown proper” – I should have said “Georgetown perceived,” as in: “perceived by someone like me, who lives in Arlington and doesn’t really know.” 🙂 Anyway, thank you for taking the time to dissect my dissection, and also for noting the closure of Book Hill Bistro – I had no idea. Kind regards, DR.

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