One of DC's oldest surviving buildings has just been restored. The 181 year old Lockkeeper's House is located just west of the Washington Monument, near 17th St and Constitution Ave NW.
The 350 square foot house was the home and workplace of lockkeepers who collected tolls and kept records of boats traveling through the Washington City Canal. The canal, which was filled in during the 1970s, ran along what is now Constitution Avenue.
The house recently underwent a $6 million renovation and slight relocation (of a few feet). It will reopen permanently later in 2018. This is a small, but fascinating part of Washington's history!
Americans is a new, long term exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian. I was floored by this exhibition. In a good way! It's on my must-see list for Washington, DC museum-goers for this summer.
Americans features 300 objects, still images, moving image clips, and historical artifacts across a 9,000 square foot gallery. There are interactive digital touch tables and a reflection room with excellent questions to get you thinking and writing. In addition to the images and objects, three mini-galleries trace the long lasting impacts of the legacy of Pocahontas, our changing memories regarding Battle of Little Bighorn, and the implementation of Indian Removal Act.
The exhibition highlights the ways in which American Indians, and specifically Indian imagery have been part of our national identity from 1600s until the present. Some of the images are difficult to look at, some complex, some took me by surprise, and some were very familiar.
From vehicle names, to fashion, to machines of war, to sports, we've co-opted American Indian imagery for commercial, political, and propagandic purposes, sometimes in prejudicial, careless, or harmful ways. Other images were seemingly benign or sought to honor or pay homage. Seeing it all presented here in mostly a matter-of-fact manner was affecting and educational. I was moved and reflective after the experience.
This is the first in a series of posts marking 50 years since 1968. For the District of Columbia, many other cities & towns --and indeed the nation-- 1968 marks a significant moment of truth; a crucial year in our history that helped shape the half century of American life after it.
Fortunately, DC has several museums and cultural institutions up to the task of offering thoughtful interpretation and reflection on events of that year.
City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People's Campaign is a new exhibition by the National Museum of African American History and Culture and hosted at the National Museum of American History. The exhibition focuses on the extraordinary execution of a community space created in Washington, DC. The community was part of the Poor People's Campaign, a highly organized, multifaceted campaign to fulfill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of ending poverty in America.
The exhibition follows a time linear narrative with four main sections starting with President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty," and ending with first person oral history-filled video kiosk exploring the impact of Resurrection City and the Poor People's campaign. In the intermediate sections we're presented with photographs, music, videos, paper ephemera, built structures, and other artifacts specific to Resurrection City. The exhibition looks at the motivations for building the city, underlying ideals of the larger campagh, the actual layout and other built environment details, and on valuable insight into daily life in the community.
This is a just deep enough dive into a three month stretch that will open your eyes on 1968. It wasn't just about assassinations and riots. It was about everything after.
City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People's Campaign is on display indefinitely at the National Museum of American History. Level 2, East Wing. 1300 Constitution Ave NW.
It's 34 degrees in Washington, DC tonight, with a "feels like" temperature of 26. Still, there is a line of volunteers waiting to read some the 58,318 names engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. Each and every name will be read aloud over a four day period, coinciding with Veterans Day weekend. This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the Wall.
The Maine Avenue Fish Market has been operating in some form since 1805. That makes it the longest continually operating open air fish market in the United States. For 200 years, this waterfront market in DC's Southwest quadrant has been a main feature of Washington Channel, just off of the Potomac River. The fish market was one of the defining river features for 19th century Washington along with Washington Navy Yard on the Anacostia, and the port at Georgetown on the Potomac.
The municipal market has seen plenty of changes over the years, but the latest change is the most significant. The market's surrounding area is being transformed into Washington, DC's newest entertainment district, aptly called "The District Wharf."
The Wharf is a mixed-use development with commercial, residential, and industrial uses, with some open/public space. It consists largely of new construction, but incorporates existing structures including the Maine Avenue market. New office buildings and residential towers abut a pedestrian promenade and the Washington Channel with slips for hundreds of boats. Phase I of the project opened in October 2017.
Some highlights for visitors to DC include a 6,000 capacity music venue, a dock for water taxis to Georgetown and Alexandria, several hotels, waterfront restaurants from casual to fine, a public fire pit, walkable piers into the Washington Channel, shops (clothing, books, furniture, more), and water sporting activities such as kayaking. The area is sure to adapt and evolve over time, but the mix of a historic base and new mixed-use density instantly make The Wharf a great option for visitors and are residents alike.
Ask about adding a stop at the Wharf as part of our day-long, private Discover DC van tours. If your DC accommodations are at the Wharf we're also happy to start a walking or van tour direct from your hotel. We'll come to you. Call to learn more 202-681-0046.
The Wharf is located at 1100 Maine Ave SW. It is accessible from L'Enfant Plaza or Waterfront Metro stations and has stations for Capital Bikeshare nearby. There is also a free shuttle bus that circulates from the development to the National Mall, to L'Enfant Plaza station, and back to the development.
District Wharf (official site)
Destination Wharf (five part news series)
Evolution of Washington DC's Southwest Waterfront (Destination DC)
The Problem With 'Fast-Casual Architecture' (architectural review)
Gardens at the library? If you visit the Library of Congress this fall, yes! The Library's Thomas Jefferson Building has live displays on the grounds that mimic War Gardens, also known as Victory Gardens, from World War I. In an effort to free up resources for the military during the Great War, the United States government encouraged citizens not only to ration and conserve food, but also to cultivate their own food in small gardens. The gardens could be found in private yards, public parks, churches, schools, and playgrounds.
There are a wide variety of plants in the Library of Congress gardens, all contemporary to 1917 War Gardens. Plantings include flowering squash blooms, tomatoes, sage, lavender, leeks, beets, kohlrabi, onions, peppers, spinach, radish, carrots, turnips, and much more. You can visit the gardens even if the Library is closed, but the inside of the Jefferson Building is magnificent and worthy of your time, if you can make it.
The Library donates all harvested crops to local Washington, DC food banks.
As of this weekend there is a new way to experience bike sharing in the District.
With 440 stations, Capital Bikeshare is the third largest system in the United States, behind New York (600) and Chicago (580). For comparisons' sake, New York's Citi Bike has 10,000 bikes, Chicago's Divvy has 5,800 bikes, and DC's Capital Bikeshare has 3,700. Measuring by number of stations may be a thing of the past, however.
The District Department of Transportation is instituting a pilot program featuring dockless (station-less) bike sharing. The program started September 20 and will run through April 2018. There are four new companies participating in the pilot: LimeBike, Mobike, Jump, and Spin. These systems allow riders to find bicycles near their location, unlock the bike, ride it, and with some restrictions, lock and leave the bike in any public space within the service area.
Guests have taken Capital Bikeshare to our tours in the past. And, not by accident, two of our tours (War Commemorations and Secret Symbols of the Lincoln Memorial) begin at the Capital Bikeshare Station near the Lincoln Memorial. It's a great, easy to find landmark. Unfortunately, the new pilot program for dock-less bike systems do not allow users to finish a ride on the National Mall. Hopefully that changes in the future. Either way, visitors to DC and residents have another car-free way to explore the city!
This mural pays tribute to both "go-go," another name for a music & dance club and "go-go," the music genre originated in DC, popularized by Chuck Brown, Rare Essence, E.U., Trouble Funk and others. It's located in an alley near LeDroit Park.