A Sreetcar named DC

Key Bridge Boathouse, Georgetown University, a...
Southwest Freeway, Key Bridge Boathouse, Georgetown University, and The Old Car Barn — Washington DC, November 2013 (Photo credit: Ron Cogswell)
Georgetown Car Barn, built in 1895
Georgetown Car Barn, built in 1895. Note long flight of steps to left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The street behind our house wraps the block in a long graceful curve. Houses at both ends have unusually long porches wrapped around two sides.  Many decades ago our neighborhood was serviced by a tramline.  Fifty years ago, the Penrose line crossed the Potomac River via the 14th Street and Key Bridges.

 When it entered our neighborhood to retrieve passengers it stopped at the two old structures, where the long porches served as waiting platforms.  The trolly cars eventually rested and received maintenance in a building in Georgetown at the end of the Key Bridge. Locals called it the Car Barn.

Georgetown Car Barn

Georgetown Car Barn today (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Exorcist steps
Georgetown University's main campus taken from...

Georgetown University’s main campus taken from the top floor of the key bridge Marriott in Arlington VA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Flight of stairs upper right next to the Car Barn featured in the Exorcist.

In the early 1970s, I attended all my graduate classes in the Old Car Barn, which today belongs to Georgetown University. I reached my classes by car, parked with great difficulty on a narrow side street, designed for a horse-drawn cart, and walked down a long flight of steps on the side of the building.

Following the demise of the tramline a half century ago, upscale University neighbors, many of whom moved to Georgetown during the Kennedy Era when Jackie made it popular, blocked the Metro from entering Georgetown, purportedly to keep the riffraff out of the area.

 Apparently, they could not stop the Devil.  A young girl living in a Nineteenth Century house next to the Car Barn became possessed by a spirit demon. Close to the University and its Jesuit priests, her parents sought help from the Devil’s arch enemy.  Her story is told in the film The Exorcist.

Washington is bringing back the tramline as the link below explains. Hopefully. the Devil won’t return.


8 thoughts on “A Sreetcar named DC

  1. Great post Dianne, and having seen many of these places, I found it not only interesting but fun. Those steps I have walked up, not for a very long time I might add but having seen the film I had to do it, good exercise too!


  2. Wow this is great history Dianne.. It is so sad the way our whole country kind of did in public transportation and now working so hard to bring it back (it should have never disappeared). ….. Pretty funny about the riffraff and the devil …. some kind of lesson in there, I’m just not sure what ;>)


  3. This is fascinating stuff dear you. Glad the trams are coming back.

    A bit of history trivia to you from here: The SDSU library was modernized in the 50, lowered ceilings and fresh paint. It appears that they covered over a wonderous WPA mural that’s just now been rediscovered. Murals seem to have few defenders.

    Not a lot of energy here. I stand at the bottom of stairs and stare at them with mindlessness every day.


  4. This is so very interesting, Dianne. If all the stars align and my son walks for me to get his diploma after he graduates we might be able to see some of this since he now lives in DC with his better half who is attending Georgetown. I’ll have to mention this to him. Thank you for the history lesson.


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