Guglielmo Marconi: Inventor and Fascist

Most of Washington’s memorials are for those making political or military contributions to our national life.  But this is a rare example of the commemoration of an individual associated with technology. Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian, is credited with inventing the radio.  And here he is, looking out into a future where a new way of … Continued

The Canterbury Pulpit in Washington National Cathedral

When you come to a church service, you should expect to hear a sermon.  And the site of sermons given at Washington National Cathedral is imposing.   Sermons are delivered from a pulpit.  Pulpit comes from the Latin word pulpitum, meaning a platform or stage.  And the Canterbury pulpit has been the stage for some great … Continued

America’s First Salute

Not far from this shore, there was canon fire that marked a changed world.   In November 1776 Captain Isaiah Robinson sailed the Continental navy brigantine Andrew Doria to St Eustatius.    St Eustatius is and was a volcanic rock of a Caribbean Island owned by Holland.  And the Doria wasn’t coming for some R&R … Continued

The Original FDR Memorial

Franklin Roosevelt was the greatest president of the last century.  He led the country through the Great Depression and World War II and elected president four times.   His beautiful memorial along the Tidal Basin in Washington reflects the epic nature of his presidency.  But this is not the memorial FDR wanted.   This is.  … Continued

DC’s Memorial to the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide

Russian aggression against Ukraine is nothing new. In 1932 and 33 million Ukrainians starved to death in a man-made famine called the Holodomor.  Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union’s dictator, wanted to turn his country into an industrialized, Russian-led, communist world power. To do that he collectivizes family farms, meaning farmers no longer worked from themselves but had … Continued

Adm. Grace Hopper – Dare and Do

The early days of computing were cumbersome and slow because data processing systems used a mechanical programing code that was very difficult to write. But this woman changes all that. Grace Hopper attends Vassar and earns a master and PhD in mathematics at Yale and joins the navy in WWII. She’s assigned to Harvard University where … Continued

Marguerite Higgins – More than just “His Wife”

The inscription “His Wife” on the headstone of Marguerite Higgins at Arlington National Cemetery doesn’t begin to do her justice. Her husband William Hall was an Air Force general who is buried with her. And the regulations are such that inscription describes her relationship to him rather than her own incredible story.   Marguerite Higgins represents the … Continued

Medgar Evers: American Martyr in Arlington National Cemetery

Medgar Evers is an American martyr. He grew up in Mississippi.  After high school he joins the army and fought in the battle of Normandy in WWII. He returns home and graduates from Alcorn State College.   Evers was an insurance salesman, but his real vocation was organizing. He began a boycott of gas stations that refused … Continued

The FBI's house it uses to spy on the Russian Embassy

DC’s (not so) Secret FBI Spy House

This house won’t be on an FBI tour of DC.  Even though it must be the worst kept spy secret in the city.   I first learned about the it in the early 80s when a friend lived in a group house a few doors down.  And her housemates always talked about how odd it was that every … Continued

13 Hidden Gems & Attractions In Washington DC

If you are planning a trip to Washington DC, you may have some well-known landmarks on your itinerary, like the White House and the National Mall, but to get a real taste of this city that has served as the nation’s capital since 1800, you also need to visit some hidden gems in DC. 1. … Continued

10 Famous Landmarks in Washington DC You Must See

If you are traveling to Washington DC, you must visit some of the most famous Washington DC landmarks and memorials. This blog post will tell you which ones are the most famous Washington sites, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the White House, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, and other parts of this city filled with American history. … Continued

7 Best Museums In DC You Can’t Miss

Washington DC is a city rich with symbolism, power, and history. Much of our country’s accomplishments are on display in fascinating museums throughout the city. The following are the seven must-see stops you need to make. 1. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Come learn more about human evolution and the development of many mammals … Continued

DC’s Holiday Traditions

Washington is a city full of traditions. Such as inaugurations, state funerals, and Congressional dysfunction. And the holidays are no different. Since 1913 there have been public celebrations of Christmas in Washington. Washington’s holiday season begins on the Ellipse with the lighting of the National Menorah, a tradition started by President Carter. At the White House receiving or … Continued

Damn the Torpedoes In DC’s Farragut Square

David Farragut stands over the square named after him in downtown Washington, DC. Unlike most of the park statues in DC, Farragut’s not on a horse. That’s because he was in the navy where sitting on horses was not done much. Farragut had an illustrious naval career. But he is best known for his brilliant victory in the … Continued

The Beatles First US Concert Was In DC

The Beatles to the US by storm in 1964. For a country still mourning the tragic death of its young president, the arrival of the Fab Four was a joyous occasion. Two days after they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show they took a train from New York to Washington.  And performed their first concert in a … Continued

Frederick Douglass’ House in DC’s Anacostia

This is one of the best views of Washington, DC’s skyline belonged to one of our nation’s great heroes – Frederick Douglass. Douglass was born enslaved in southern Maryland. He escapes and becomes the leading speaker and writer of the abolitionist movement. In addition to his civil rights vocation, he was a newspaper man, world traveler, diplomat, … Continued

The Exorcist House

A demon lives in this house. Or at least one did in 1973 when the movie the Exorcist was filmed in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. The Exorcist was a huge hit. Not so much a horror story as a theological thriller. But when we look at the house where the exterior scenes were shot, it’s … Continued

Nathanael Greene in DC’s Stanton Park

On Capitol Hill in Washington, DC’s in Stanton Park you won’t find a statue of Edwin Stanton, but you will find one of Nathanael Greene. Greene was from a prosperous Quaker family from Rhode Island. And he is probably one of the most under-recognized figures from the revolutionary period. Greene was an avid learner but his … Continued

Stanton Is Not In Stanton Park

Stanton Park is named after secretary of war Edwin Stanton who presided over the army in the Civil War. But the statue in Stanton Park is not Edwin Stanton. Surprisingly, there is no statue of Stanton in Stanton Park. But let’s be honest: It would be hard to make a heroic statue based on this guy.   While Stanton doesn’t … Continued

Where Barack Obama Lived Before Moving to the White House

For members of Congress who are not wealthy, and there are fewer and fewer of those these days, finding an affordable place to stay in Washington is a challenge. Being a member of Congress pays well, $174,000 a year. But you must have two homes: One in DC for work and one back in your district where the … Continued

The Defecting Defector

The case of KGB Col. Vitaly Yerchenko remains a Cold War spy v. spy mystery. He defects to the US then months later re-defects to the USSR. Did he change his mind, or was that the plan all along? Learn the full story here.

Franklin Square Is Back!

Franklin Square is back! Now rechristened Franklin Park, this long-neglected green space managed by the National Park Service, underwent a $20 million renovation paid for by the city. And the result is wonderful. The five acres were regraded to make it accessible for all. There are new fountains, and the trees have been diversified by age and species. A … Continued

Best Movies Filmed In DC

Washington, DC is at the confluence of power, money, and politics. So, it’s a natural setting for some great movies. Now lots of movies take place in Washington, but not all of those are filmed here. Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Richmond often stand in for DC since getting permission to film here has become increasingly difficult. So, I want to share … Continued

DC’s Big Chair

Not all of Washington, DC’s landmarks are on the Mall. In the Anacostia neighborhood the landmark is the Big Chair. Standing over 19 feet tall, this is one on the world’s largest chairs. It’s been a focal point of the neighborhood since 1959. The original chair was made of Honduran mahogany by the Bassett Furniture Company on behalf of … Continued

Remembering the WWII Home Front in DC and St Simons, Georgia

One of the things I like best about the WWII Memorial is that it remembers everything and everyone that made victory possible. Because the war wasn’t won by only those in combat. It took a monumental effort on the home front to feed and supply our troops. The wreaths of oak leaves represent America’s industrial might – … Continued

The Information Revolution Begins in Georgetown

When you think of the birth of the information technology industry, you usually think of Seattle or Silicon Valley. But you should really think of the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC because this is where the earliest forms of computing start. In a building alongside the old C&O Canal is where Herman Hollerith makes a machine … Continued

Four Foreigners on DC’s Lafayette Square

On the four corners of Lafayette Square across the street from the White House are statues of heroes of our Revolutionary War, without whom, victory would have been very difficult. And they all have one thing in common: None of them were American. Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette was born into the French … Continued

DC’s Phavorite Physicist

Albert Einstein, everyone’s favorite physicist contemplates the universe from his perch on the lawn of the National Academy of Science on Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC. Einstein’s best known for developing the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics and numerous other things that I don’t understand. And this memorial calls out the significant contributions he made … Continued

Assassination on DC’s Embassy Row

On Sheridan Circle along Embassy Row one is surrounded by elaborate Gilded Age mansions that have been converted into embassies. They’re the site of elegant parties and diplomatic intrigue. But this is also the site of the only act of state-sponsored terrorism to take place in the United States. On September 21, 1976, Orlando Letelier is … Continued

Best Books About Washington, DC

Its summertime and whether you’re at the beach or by a lake you may be looking for a good book. So, I thought I’d share with you what I think are some of the best books about Washington, DC. At the top of my list is All the President’s Men by the Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, … Continued

DC’s Longest Protest

Protests happen every day in Washington.  Some are big with hundreds of thousands of marchers.  Others are just one person with a sign. Regardless of size, it’s one of the things I love about this city – seeing people gather to exercise their First Amendment rights. And it reminds me that in many countries you could be arrested, … Continued

DC’s Frances Perkins: Labor Secretary and Saint

The Department of Labor building at the base of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC is nothing special to look at. Built in the 1970s, it’s about as uncreative as a government office building can be. But the person it’s named after is anything but uncreative. Frances Perkins is the first woman to hold a cabinet position, serving as … Continued

Twenty-one Women Killed in Washington Arsenal Explosion

It was hot the morning of June 17, 1864. At the Washington Arsenal munitions were being made for the Civil War. Twenty-one young women, wearing the constrictive clothing of the time, dresses with high collars and hoop skirts, were sitting at a long table in what was called the choking room. Their job was to put … Continued

Murder Bay Becomes Federal Triangle

The Federal Triangle section of Washington exudes the power of our democracy. Wedged between 6th and 15th Streets and Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, the ten buildings of Federal Triangle are exactly what you’d expect from structures that are meant to convey strength, confidence, and stability. Influenced by the neoclassical style of the Louvre in Paris and Whitehall in London, … Continued

The Spy’s Sprinkler System

While visiting the Washington National Cathedral’s Bishop’s Garden, I came across a plaque commemorating the donation of the garden’s sprinkler system by the family of Frank Gardiner Wisner. The name seemed familiar. Frank Wisner is responsible for some of the most reprehensible actions committed by the CIA. He made it possible for Belarussians the collaborated with the … Continued

Inside the Bishop’s Garden

Washington National Cathedral is one of my favorite places to take visitors. Styling itself as a House of Prayer for All People, it is a masterpiece of gothic architecture, stained glass, music, hand carved wood, and wrought iron. Regrettably it’s closed right now but one of its lessor known spots, the Bishop’s Garden, is open for … Continued

Two Dead in Truman White House

The presidency is thrust on Harry Truman in the last months of World War II when Franklin Roosevelt dies after being president for twelve years. No one knows who Truman is when he takes over but the country warms to the feisty man from Independence, MO who provides steady leadership in tumultuous times. But death comes twice … Continued

Theodore Roosevelt Gets His Own Island

The most unusual memorial to a president in Washington, DC is the one to our 26th chief executive. Theodore Roosevelt gets an entire island to his memory. Located in the Potomac River between Georgetown and Rosslyn, Va., Theodore Roosevelt Island is a fitting tribute to this president who ensured so much of America’s natural beauty is preserved … Continued

The House Where J. Edgar Hoover Dies

J. Edgar Hoover spent his entire life in Washington. He was born on Capitol Hill and lived there until he was 43. With his mother. When Mother Hoover dies J. Edgar buys the house above in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Washington. He dies here in his sleep, his body discovered on a May 1972 morning … Continued

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