Before the Exorcist Steps

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In his retelling of the story of the Exorcist Steps, GM described 36th St. prior to the steps’ construction as “flowing over” a steep rocky hillside running from Prospect down to M St. A reader wrote in an corrected GM. 36th St. was on maps but it wasn’t really much of a true road.

The photo above from 1865 shows 36th St. (which at the time was called Gay St.) as it tumbles down to M St. (which was itself known as Falls St. at this time). It’s a stretch to call it a street. Yes you could probably scramble up the slope to get to Prospect St., but it would be even harder than it is to sprint up the Exorcist Steps today.

34th St. (which was Frederick St.), however, looked a lot more passable:

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So if you’ve ever wondered what that area of Georgetown looked like before the steps, here you go.


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