Cobblestone Charm: Georgetown

Georgetown, established as a port town in the 18th century, has been a headquarters for high teas, A-list parties, and fine living ever since.

By: Mary Clare Glover

Who lives here: This is ground zero for politicos—particularly Dems—and the media elite, including Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, Maureen Dowd, and TV anchor Tracey Neale. Mixed in are European diplomats and a few thousand college students and young professionals who rent group houses and English basements.

Homefront: Plenty of Victorian and Federal-style townhouses, many from the 18th century. Back then, says Maria Casarella, an architect with Georgetown-based Cunningham & Quill Architects, “no one cut corners like they do today. Every inch of space was beautiful.” Features like high ceilings, large windows, third-floor cupolas, and pocket gardens are common.

New contemporary luxury-condo buildings have gone up near Water Street.

On the market: Randall Hagner agent Lucinda Treat says most houses in Georgetown sell for between $1 and $3 million: “I don’t think there are any bargains.”

Local favorites: Longtime M Street cafe and bakery Furin’s for deli sandwiches and chatting with neighbors, Patisserie Poupon for lattes and pastries, and Cady’s Alley for stylish home furnishings.

Welcome change: Crews recently broke ground on a 12-acre waterfront park to replace the grunge underneath Whitehurst Freeway with green spaces, Potomac overlooks, and paths for bikers and joggers.

Come together: The Citizens Association of Georgetown hosts outdoor summer concerts, publishes a newsletter, and organizes meetings with city officials and cultural figures. Georgetown’s three parks—Rose Park, Montrose Park, and Volta Park—are hot spots for parents and dog owners.

Only in Georgetown: The annual house-and-garden tours are the most anticipated events of the year. As one resident put it, “One of the greatest pastimes in Georgetown is getting inside one another’s houses.”

Drawback: Lots of independently owned businesses have given way to chains. Marvelous Market recently took over from Neam’s Market, a neighborhood favorite.

How it beats Old Town: Nathans Restaurant owner Carol Joynt, a longtime resident, says Old Town “doesn’t have the same sizzle as Georgetown—it’s much more beige, more inhibited.”

On the Web: Georgetown BID (georgetowndc.com); Citizens Association of Georgetown (cagtown.org); the Georgetowner newspaper (georgetowner.com).