Exorcist Steps

Seattle, Washington (WA)

The Exorcist Steps are a spine-tingling landmark in Washington D.C.

Exorcist Steps 4
- Ben Schumin

Exploring The Exorcist Steps

The Exorcist Steps, situated at the corner of Prospect Street and 36th Street NW, provide a shortcut between Prospect Street NW above and a small car park on Canal Road NW below. But using them might just lift the hackles on the back of your neck! For all those familiar with the tale you will know why! But for those who don’t know; these steps, descending steeply from the busy streets of Georgetown in Washington D.C., once played a role in the 1973 film ‘The Exorcist’.

Hardcore fans will know to look out for The Exorcist House located at 3600 Prospect Street, the exterior of which was also used in the film but is now privately owned. While the house itself was built in 1950 and lacks historical significance beyond its cinematic fame, the steps retain their original character and have become a popular destination for fans of the film. Visitors can freely walk down the stairs, as they are public property.

Exorcist Steps 1
- Lenka Reznicek

During a ceremonial Halloween weekend in 2015—a fititng tribute—The Exorcist Steps were officially recognised as a chilling landmark and tourist attraction by Mayor Muriel Bowser. A plaque unveiled at the base of the steps commemorates their importance to both Washington, D.C., and film history. So if you’re in the District of Colombia, why not pay them a visit, if you dare?

Creating The Exorcist Steps

Long before their role in the cinematic horror, the narrow and steep concrete stairway served as a lightwell and public right of way. They were built in 1895 by George Killeen, a well-known local figure, as part of the adjacent Capital Traction Company Car Barn for cable cars. The steps were to be used as a station and storage area for the cable cars until 1950.

Designed by architect Waddy Butler Wood, the original Romanesque Revival building underwent significant alterations in 1910-1911 becoming a Beaux Arts structure able to accommodate larger streetcars. Today, the Car Barn hosts Georgetown University classes and administrative offices. Despite these changes, the ivy-covered Exorcist Steps have remained unchanged.

Exorcist Steps
- Omar Bárcena

The Exorcist Steps on the Big Screen

Though they may be rather unremarkable to some, to iconic-horror-film lovers The Exorcist Steps are easily recognisable for their role in the late William Friedkin's groundbreaking film adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel "The Exorcist." As the director, Friedkin was instrumental in finding the perfect background setting for that hair raising scene, and we would say he found it!

The steps flash into view during the movie’s climactic showdown. The scene—spoilers pending—features actor Jason Miller's character, Father Damien Karras, and the demon-possessed girl moments before Father Karras tragically falls to his death. Careful rubber padding was used to protect the stuntman involved, who apparently had to perform the spine-tingling act twice!

Exorcist Steps 2
- Neill Turner

The Exorcist Steps: Keeping it Spooky

Beyond their peak performance in “The Exorcist”, the Exorcist Steps have etched their way into local Georgetown supernatural folklore. When writing the novel, author William Peter Blatty, a Georgetown University graduate, drew inspiration from his university surroundings. According to locals, on foggy nights the steps become even more eerie—we can only assume upon witnessing this during his time in the city, Blatty knew he had to work them into his novel.

Another interesting tale concerning the steps is the apparent inability to count the steps. Although it is claimed there are 75 steps in total, each time you attempt to count them it yields a different result. This helps to add a little intrigue to the already creepy stairway.

Exorcist Steps 5
- Andy B

Visiting The Exorcist Steps Today

Today, despite their imposing appearance—or maybe because of—The Exorcist Steps have become a popular spot for exercise and recreation. Runners often integrate the steps into their daily workouts and others will use the stairs for leg-strengthening exercises, ascending and descending the steep incline. But there are still plenty of people visiting the steps as part of their own private movie landmark pilgrimage.

Exorcist Steps 3
- Ron Cogswell

Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our CityDays Urban Exploration Games - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of cities around the world.


What you need to know

Exorcist Steps
36095 Prospect St NW Washington, District of Columbia, 20007 United States
38.905544, -77.070168
Tips before you visit

Drive east along M Street. Just before it turns into Canal, you will see a car park on the right. Then you will be right at the bottom of the stairs.