Georgetown was incorporated in 1751 by the Assembly of Maryland, a group of colonists accountable to England’s King George II. Sixty acres were selected for their tobacco-friendly soil and convenient placement along the Potomac River. Georgetown quickly became a top tobacco producer and a major shipping center.
Georgetown rapidly diversified and expanded its economy. Local traders first found success exporting tobacco to Europe and India. They opened flour mills shortly thereafter. Soon the town adapted to the Revolutionary War by serving as a military supply depot. In 1789 Georgetown was incorporated. That year brought Georgetown University, a textile mill, a paper mill and several flour mills.
Georgetown enjoyed more than a century of prosperity. The establishment of Washington, DC to the east in 1791 proved critical to the development of Georgetown’s highbrow character. Georgetown became known as the capital city’s fashionable district and attracted eminent international visitors. It was officially incorporated into Washington in 1871. During the 1860s and 1870s many former slaves migrated to Georgetown. With this influx of entrepreneurs and laborers the waterfront industries became more lucrative than ever.
However, economic misfortune hit Georgetown in the 1890s. A major canal company went bankrupt following a severe flood. The district consequently became increasingly impoverished. Following World War I it was known as one of America’s most neglected neighborhoods. Fortunately, New Deal initiatives brought renovations in the 1930s. Further enhancements came in the 1950s when Senator John F. Kennedy moved to the neighborhood. Parties hosted by Senator Kennedy and his wife attracted Washington elite to Georgetown once again.
In 2003 the Georgetown waterfront was revitalized with new boutiques, restaurants and luxury hotels. Recent prominent residents of Georgetown include the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Watergate reporter Bob Woodward and Senator John Kerry.