Metro for Georgetown?

By:
11/01/2001

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission has proposed that a Georgetown station be included in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s proposed “blue line,” an additional subway line to run from north Virginia across the District into Maryland.

As currently proposed, the line, with its Wisconsin Avenue and M Street station, won’t be completed until 2020?a long time away. Regardless, the issue is still very important, and should be treated as such by Georgetown students. Many elect to remain in the District after graduation. And the presence of a subway stop in the neighborhood will no doubt change the Georgetown experience for future Hoyas?something current students should keep in mind.

During Metro’s inception in the 1960s, a Georgetown station was never seriously considered because of community opposition. Local leaders felt that a subway station would make the neighborhood more accessible to tourists and criminals; the assumption was that keeping public transport out would ensure that only law-abiding car owners would brave Georgetown’s cobblestone streets. Today, however, the neighborhood has already come out of its silver-lined shell to assimilate with the rest of Washington, D.C.

The time has come, then for Georgetown to stop pretending and fully embrace the rest of the District. A neighborhood can’t hide forever, especially from its own city. While local residents may have been content to shut out the rest of the District during the rougher parts of the city’s past, Washington’s newfound prosperity is now beckoning Georgetown to forge stronger ties with the rest of the city.

There are really only two major questions: How will this affect the neighborhood, and how will this affect the University? Georgetown has long prided itself on at least having the image of quiet refinement, and a subway stop will remove a rather tangible indicator of this separation. However, the neighborhood’s character is unlikely to be seriously modified by the addition. Retail shopping on M Street and up Wisconsin Avenue will continue to thrive, while residential areas nearer campus will most likely remain as quiet as ever?most of Georgetown experiences little housing turnover. If anything, a subway stop will continue to foster the neighborhood’s prosperity.

For the University, the question is more complex. Somewhat paradoxically, Georgetown’s removed-yet-urban quaintness seems to be a major selling point to prospective students. College students are seldom credited with improving a neighborhood’s quality of life, yet the University certainly capitalizes on the image. Georgetown University may well find itself having to redevelop the portrait they paint of the neighborhood?much changed from the quiet haven for football-chucking Kennedys in decades past.

Additionally, local rents will probably be driven further skyward as real estate agents factor in the additional selling point of Metro access. Fortunately, the University is quite far ahead of the game; the Southwest Quadrangle project will probably be completed well before ground is even broken on the subway station.

Life on campus certainly stands to benefit from the addition of a station by giving students better access to the rest of the District. Students need to voice their support for the measure?future students’ ability to get the most out of the Georgetown experience depends on it.

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