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Initially monopolized by waterfront industry, Georgetown’s character was forced to change as waterways became clogged with silt. Projects undertaken to dredge the silt proved cost-prohibitive and Congress took little interest. Instead, energy and resources were put into railroad. Shipping trade dried up in the time between the Civil War and the first World War and, as a result, many of the older homes were preserved with very few changes made to them.
Patronized by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and their contemporaries, Georgetown can pride itself in having been a nest for the government of the fledgeling Republic. Located in Northwest Washington, D.C.and nestled along the Potomac River, Georgetown was founded in the state of Maryland in 1751. In 1871, the United States Congress created a consolidated government for all of the District of Columbia and in 1895, unambiguous legislation repealed Georgetown’s remaining ordinances and renamed streets to conform with the rest of the city.
As early as 1933, efforts were put into place to preserve Georgetown as an historic district. In 1950, “Old Georgetown” became an officially established district. Law required that any alteration, construction or demolition within the district must be consulted upon by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.
Contemporary Georgetown is a commercial, historic and entertainment district. The neighborhood is home to the main campus of Georgetown University, several embassies and many historic landmarks including The City Tavern Club (built in 1796), The Old Stone House, and Alexander Graham Bell’s first formal research laboratory. Commercial activities primarily center around the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street and contain exclusive shops, restaurants, bars, Georgetown Park’s enclosed shopping mall and the Washington Harbor waterfront.