Places that Aren’t Georgetown

Love it or hate it, Georgetown is a desirable name. We can see this played out in the frequent attempts by companies or entities to label something as Georgetown which is not actually in Georgetown. It happens all the time, but a couple of these mislabelings caught GM’s eye recently.

The first one is from a press release GM received. It’s mostly innocuous but amusing nonetheless:

Cushman & Wakefield today announced the sale of Georgetown Plaza at 2233 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, a 150,097-square foot, 79% leased Class A office building in Washington’s Upper Georgetown submarket…“Given Georgetown’s supply constrained market, the institutional quality of the asset and the strength of the area economy, this is a great opportunity for JOSS Realty,” said Mr. [Eric] Berkman.

This building is not in Georgetown. It’s at Wisconsin and Hall St., squarely in Glover Park. Obviously whoever built the building chose the name for cachet. Fine, no big deal. But what’s funny is that rather than mention the building being in Glover Park, where it is, the release throws in the phrase “Upper Georgetown”, and to the extent that phrase means anything, it means the part of Georgetown between about P and the Safeway (for a more detailed look at what the specific, federally defined, boundaries of Georgetown are, see here.)

Then the release makes a jump from calling Glover Park “Upper Georgetown” to making a statement about Georgetown’s “supply constrained market”. GM’s surprised they didn’t sneak in a “blocks from the White House” reference.

The other incident that caught GM’s eye was much more egregious and high profile. Amazingly the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times decided to air the grievances of some Hillandale residents. The complaints revolved around the security detail of their neighbor, Fed chair Janet Yellen. The most preposterous complaint of the bunch was that Yellen’s guards have “doughnut bellies”. And in both articles, the newspapers described Hillandale as a “gated Georgetown community”.

Rest assured: Hillandale is not in Georgetown. It is a gated community full of 1980s houses built of a former estate. It has neither the history, the variety, the commerce, nor the openness of Georgetown. It is a fortress for people who want to live in the city, but decide, for whatever reason, that they need to hide behind a gate to do so. And if they want to embarrass themselves by taking to national papers to complain about the physique of the Fed chair’s guards, let it be on the gated community’s dime, not Georgetown’s.

The newspapers can be somewhat excused by the fact that Hillandale’s website identifies it as “Hillandale at Georgetown”. This is a lie. To the extent that Hillandale is a member of any neighborbood except its own gated world, it is in Burleith.

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