Georgetown University

Description And Comments

Georgetown University is an institution of higher learning that is synonymous with the neighborhood it is named after. With its campus sitting on a rise in western Georgetown overlooking downtown D.C. and the Potomac River, The Hilltop – as early students referred it to – can be seen from many surrounding areas.

Georgetown University was established in 1789 and is the oldest Catholic University in America, although it was almost closed during the Civil War after the student body dwindled to a mere 17 between 1859 and 1861. The centerpiece of the University campus is Healy Hall, a Flemish Romanesque building that was constructed in stages between 1877 and 1909. As the anchor of the “old quadrangle,” Healy Hall’s 200-foot central clock spire can be seen from all over Georgetown.

The Athletes at Georgetown University are known as the Hoyas and they wear blue and gray, both of which have interesting stories. Blue and gray were selected by students at the end of the Civil War to celebrate the newfound solidarity between the Union (blue) and the Confederacy (gray). The derivation of the nickname Hoya is less concrete. It is thought that students, during the period where they were required to study Greek and Latin, cheered on the athletic teams – then nicknamed The Stonewalls – by saying “Hoya Saxa,” roughly translated as “What Rocks!” The cheer stuck and eventually grew into the official Hoya nickname. So yes, it can be inferred that the Georgetown athletes are “the Whats.”

Another interesting cultural point is that parts of the 1973 classic horror movie The Exorcist was filmed on the Georgetown University campus. The exterior and interior halls of Healy Hall are used in several scenes, but the most famous spot is a simple staircase. In the climactic scene of the film, a character is flung down a steep set of stairs that can be found right on the eastern edge of the Georgetown campus. The “Exorcist Steps” connect Prospect St and M St, with the top near the intersection of Prospect and 36th Street.

Touring Tips

If you would like to take a full tour of Georgetown University, the school supplies an 8-page pdf file on their website, although it is a little difficult to find. On the site, scroll to “More Information” at the bottom where there is a link to “Self-Guided Tour.”


37th and O Sts NW
Washington, D.C.
Foggy Bottom (1.5 miles)



Attraction Photos