Mailing to Georgetown, DC

Last month, a DC statehood activist proposed a new tactic for residents to deploy to help spread the notion that normal people live in DC, and thus deserve representation in Congress. That tactic: have your mail addressed to your neighborhood, not “Washington”. In other words, don’t have mail sent to Washington, DC, have it sent to Tenleytown, DC, or Langdon, DC, or Brookland, DC. Or, of course, Georgetown, DC.

As the activist, Josh Gibson, wrote:

One of the many things that cripples DC’s statehood efforts is the assumption by the rest of the country that the two faces of DC — federal Washington and what we locals call “the District” — are synonymous. Those who are not from here, or who are merely visiting, think only of government buildings, monuments, museums, and the Gucci Gulch of K Street (to the extent that they think of Washington at all).

Gibson goes on to write that the Postal Service has a “preferred city name” for each DC zip code, namely “Washington”. But the Postal Service also accepts, well, “Acceptable City Names” too. For instance, Chevy Chase is acceptable for 20015. Anacostia is acceptable for 20373.

Getting new zip codes on the list is apparently a relatively easy procedural step, although the request must come from the city. But GM wanted to see if mail sent to “Georgetown, DC” would get delivered.  So he had his brother in Massachusetts send a package and a postcard with this address. They both arrived safely.

The interesting thing is that “Washington” is as fictional a name as “Georgetown”. Both former cities were abolished at the same time in 1871. After that point, the only legal entity remaining was the District of Columbia. Washington doesn’t exist and hasn’t in almost 150 years. So using “Georgetown” shouldn’t really be a problem, especially when you’re also using the right zip code.

GM probably wouldn’t use this address for any particularly important mail, but for the other stuff. Why not?

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