Does the triangular neighborhood between 395, Massachusetts, and Louisiana Avenues—a land of hotels, homeless, and Georgetown Law, centered on the venerable Kogod Liquors—have a name?

First things first: The only name a neighborhood has is what people call it. The city doesn’t keep official lists of neighborhoods and their boundaries, which would only spark fights over exactly where one neighborhood stops and the next one begins. “We avoid it like the plague,” says Planning Director Harriet Tregoning.

As a result, certain neighborhoods have contentious boundaries, while others appear to have no name at all. The one you mention doesn’t really have permanent residents—Georgetown Law students come and go, as do homeless shelter residents and hotel guests—so there aren’t many people to claim ownership over it.

That’s not to say there aren’t theories. D.C. geographer and inveterate neighborhood-name fact-checker Geoff Hatchard suggests two designations for the neighborhood: part of historic Swampoodle, which was centered to the east of the land in question; or, more likely, part of the East End, a nebulous term that has, at various points, referred to everything from Chinatown to Anacostia. “The East End as a label has kind of fallen into disuse, but perhaps [with] things like Capitol Crossing and a rebuild of some of the shelters … East End might really become an analogue to the West End,” Hatchard says by email.

But who better to ask than the people who spend their time there? The manager of Kogod Liquors seemed befuddled by the question, but Georgetown Law spokeswoman Marisa Kashino provided a good response. “Prior to the late 1960s, this neighborhood was considered part of an area called the East End of downtown,” she writes. “However, we today consider ourselves a part of the Capitol Hill community, given that we’re within blocks of the Capitol building, Union Station, the U.S. Supreme Court, and other Washington landmarks.” For what it’s worth (and for obvious reasons), the hotels in the neighborhood all brand themselves as Capitol Hill destinations as well.

Correction: The article originally identified historic Swampoodle as being "centered in the heart of what’s now NoMa around 1st and M streets NE." In fact, it was centered slightly south of that area.

Our Readers Say

Swampoodle was between F St and K St and 1st St NW and 2nd St NE, straddling North Capitol St. The baseball field there was called Swampoodle Grounds.
The District's own GIS files designate the area "Downtown East". The file is no longer available for download from the Data Catalog it seems (it's named nbhd_act.ply--the neighborhood cluster file is available to download). It is the list of 130 neighborhood names you'll see on DCOP maps.
Letter writer here! I like "Downtown East"; most folks probably think of this as generic "downtown," so it's probably the one name here people would have the best chance of recognizing, in addition to any quasi-official status the DC GIS gives it. (As flexible the "Capitol Hill" name might be these days, I think we can agree that a neighborhood that lies at the very bottom of the dramatic climb up said hill on Constitution is probably disqualified.)
In the spirit of "Penn Quarter," how about Union Quarter? Not only is the area forever going to be in the shadow of Union Station, but it houses several prominent union offices, notably AFT and the Teamsters. Otherwise, there's the Hill-staffer designation of "Senate side."

I wish people would give up on Swampoodle already...

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