Georgetown Sociologist, Neighborhood Leader Discuss D.C.
May 21, 2013 – Georgetown professor Brian McCabe spends his time researching and teaching civic engagement and urban policy on a national level, but he and a local neighborhood leader recently sat down with a small group to discuss the evolving landscape of Washington, D.C.
“There is a sense that D.C. is becoming unaffordable,” said McCabe, an assistant professor of sociology. “We also talked about gentrification and the types of things that make D.C. different from other cities.”
McCabe and ANC Commissioner Marc Morgan, who represents D.C.’s LeDroit Park neighborhood spoke to 25 members of the Wandering Minds Society about “The Ever-Changing Metropolis: DC Then, Now, and Tomorrow” on May 14.
McCabe pointed to several features that distinguish the nation’s capital from other cities – including the Heights of Buildings Act of 1910. The act restricts the height of buildings in the city according to the width of the adjacent streets. The professor said the act has limited the supply of housing in the city over the years.
“D.C. also doesn’t have a real industrial past ... A lot of other cities at the moment are struggling to figure out what to do with an old industrial landscape,” he said. “D.C. doesn’t really have that problem.”
Another component that makes the city attractive is the government and federal infrastructure, said McCabe.
“There are a lot of government contractors here so the economy has weathered the storm fairly well compared to other cities,” he said. “ These are the kinds of things we tend to think about when attracting the creative class – tech entrepreneurs and artists – and young professionals.”
McCabe, who attended Georgetown during his undergraduate years and returned to teach nearly two years ago, said he thought the pairing with Morgan was good.
“Marc was a great component for what’s happening in the neighborhoods,” he said. “I think Marc is very much on the ground and very much involved in the issues in LeDroit Park. So, he was able to address specifics about what’s going on in his neighborhood and others in the city.”