Hi and welcome to another edition of Mythbusting! This week we’ll be tackling the myth of the Georgetown Metro. The legend explains why Georgetown, a vibrant part of the city with many attractions, does not have a Metro station. Legend has it that Metro planners had originally planned a station for Georgetown, but Georgetown’s well-connected residents fought to keep the criminals and poor people that would ride Metro away from their exclusive neighborhood. They successfully defeated the Metro plans, and thus, there’s no Metro station in Georgetown today. Why else would there not be a Metro station at such a major destination in DC?
Two big reasons: existing land use and geography. First of all, Metro officials never seriously considered a station in Georgetown. Metro was originally envisioned as a suburban-to-city commuter link that would ferry office workers to downtown DC. Back when Metro was being planned, there wasn’t really a critical mass of offices or apartment buildings in Georgetown, so there wasn’t a compelling reason to have a stop in Georgetown for this commuter system. As Metro planner William Herman is quoted in Zachary Schrag’s The Great Society Subway, “We were building the system for the commuters, and there were not many people commuting to Georgetown” (155-156).
Secondly, the geography of Georgetown wasn’t exactly Metro-friendly. The obvious choice for a Metro station would be at Wisconsin and M Streets, and that intersection is really close to the Potomac River. So there would be two options: go really deep under the river from Rosslyn (which would require an impractically deep station), or go over the river. Highway planners vetoed a combined transit and highway bridge over the Potomac, so there go those options. Even if there was a good reason to have a station in Georgetown, it would have been logistically difficult and outrageously expensive.
Interestingly, according to The Great Society Subway, there was some opposition from Georgetown residents to a potential Metro station. But that was typical of the day, and it wasn’t just white-keeping-out-black or rich-keeping-out-poor opposition. Opposition to Metro stops happened in many different neighborhoods, rich and poor alike, for reasons such as the long construction schedule or the perceived crime that subways would bring. David Alpert over at Greater Greater Washington thinks that Georgetown residents would have probably successfully opposed a Metro station there if one had been proposed. So while this myth is feasible because many Metro stations were opposed during the planning stages, there’s no truth to the myth that Georgetown residents blocked an already-planned station.