James Garfield: More than just the 8 month president

This statue of James Garfield welcome Capitol Hill visitors arriving by bus.  If anyone remembers Garfield, they know him as the president who was assassinated and died 8 months into his term.  But why would a president with such a…

BFFs: The German-American Friendship Garden

All the memorials on the National Mall were erected for a reason and the German-American Friendship Garden is no different.  Nothing is here by accident.    In 1988 at the end of his presidency, Ronald Reagan and West German Chancellor…

See Who's Laying Around Congressional Cemetery

When Pierre L’Enfant made his plan for the new capital city, he thought of everything, a canal, a house for the president, where Congress would meet, where the streets would be.  Everything except where to put the dead.  His plan…

A White Supremacist Welcome to Washington

The Connecticut Avenue gateway to Washington DC is second only to Memorial Bridge in its beauty.  A broad treelined street leads to a large fountain that marks the border between Maryland and the District.   But the beauty of this…

A NEW SACRED SPACE: BLACK LIVES MATTER PLAZA

One of the first things people ask me when they talk about visiting Washington is whether they can visit Black Lives Matter Plaza. The answer is always: Of course! The two-block stretch of 16th Street by the White House has…

Myths About the Lincoln Memorial

There are lots of myths and urban legends about Washington, DC’s sites. The Lincoln Memorial is the home of the myths I hear most often form visitors (and some misinformed tour guides).The first myth is that Lincoln’s hands make the American…

Live from NPR in Washington…

The tours of NPR’s headquarters are on hold because of the pandemic. But when they come back it is a must see for those coming to Washington for more than a few days and want to do something off the beaten…

Graduating from Electoral College

The National Archives is more than the place to see the constitution and the Declaration of Independence. It also has a key role managing the Electoral College. The Electoral College is a process, not a place. And the Archives has a key role…

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…

Mary McLeod Bethune

In Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill the life of Mary McLeod Bethune is remembered by this sculpture. If you’ve been exploring Washington, you may recognize this sculpture has the distinctive style of Richard Berks, whose also did the Albert Einstein statue…

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…

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…

The Guard Isn’t the Only Thing That’s Changed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

With the brilliant white sarcophagus overlooking the nation’s capital; the guard marching twenty-one steps in front of it; the inspection of the relief sentinel, and the crowds staying a respectful distance away, the scene at the Tomb on the Unknown…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

A LGBTQ Hero at Congressional Cemetery

Soon after moving to Capitol Hill, I visited Congressional Cemetery.  It was quite run down back then.  And I came across this gravestone.  It reads, "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men…

Charles Pierce: Preventing Unknown Soldiers

No one wants to be an unknown soldier. During the Civil War, that was a real fear.   Soldiers worried that if killed their bodies would not be identified. Some would mark their clothing with their names or engrave their name…

EXPLAINING BASEBALL TO SOMEONE FROM OVERSEAS

Many of my guests come from overseas and one of the things I love to do with them is to go to a Nationals game. But have you ever tried to explain baseball to someone who has never grown up…

Who's on first?

OK, I know baseball can be a slow game.  But the one going on here behind the Federal Reserve Bank must be the slowest.   Who’s on first?  I don’t know.  But there is a pitcher, batter, and catcher.  And…

Vinnie Ream Plays DC's Power Game

Lavinia Ream, known as Vinnie, knew if she was going to make it as an artist in Washington, she had to play the city’s power game just as the men did.   Ream was born in Wisconsin in 1847, her…

Eleanor Roosevelt Breaks the First Lady Mold

As strange as it seems and as wrong as it is, there are only three outdoor sculptures of women in Washington, DC.  One of them is Eleanor Roosevelt at the Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial.   Eleanor is Franklin’s wife and…

DC's African American Civil War Memorial

U Street:  It’s the heart of the African American experience in Washington, DC.  Making it a fitting site for the African American Civil War Memorial.   And let us be clear about this – The Civil War was about one…

Famous Authors Buried at Arlington National Cemetery

In a previous episode we explore famous actors buried here at Arlington National Cemetery.  Today, let’s look at some famous authors.   "In an old house in Paris all covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in 2 straight lines." Those…

Washington’s Creepiest Statue

There is a statue of a young boy, a naked man, and a partially clothed woman.  It is the Boy Scout Memorial.   I guess when this was dedicated in 1964, a naked man with a Boy Scout wasn’t as…

James Earl Fraser Is Everywhere!

It seems you can’t throw a rock in Washington without hitting a statue of some sort.  There are so many ideas, events, and people (actually mostly white men) that we want to memorialize.   But the work of one person…

What Is a Cathedral?

The official name of Washington National Cathedral is the Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Paul.   But that name itself begs the question:  What’s the difference between and church and cathedral?    Many folks think that a cathedral…

Bartholdi Fountain on Capitol Hill

At the base of Capitol Hill at a site that few visitors come:  the Fountain of Light and Water.  Locals call it the Bartholdi Fountain, named after its creator Frederrik August Bartholdi.  You may know Bart-hole-dee from one of his…

Titanic Memorial

At the end of this crumbling sidewalk near some docked sightseeing boats in SW Washington stands the Titanic Memorial.  It’s dedicated “To the brave men who perished in the Titanic, April 15, 1912. They gave their lives that women and…

Transportation Walk - the Non-museum Museum

In the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood of southwest Washington, and I’ve come across Washington’s most unusual museum:  The Transportation Walk outside the headquarters of the US Department of Transportation.    This is a museum that’s not in a museum.  It traces…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…