• Black and white photo of six OSS recruits who watch an instructor shoot a small arm during training at Chopawamsic's Area C. [Source: National Park Service]
    Prince William Forest Park
     
     
    Secrets in the Forest
    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin your training as a World War II spy in the forests of Prince William County, Virginia.
  • Urban Renewal in D.C.
     
     
    The Tivoli, a once grand movie theater, became a site for a massive debate over urban renewal in Columbia Heights in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Mary Church Terrell
    Civil Rights History
     
     
    Mary Church Terrell's 1906 speech on race in Washington, D.C. was a scathing indictment of the city, which inspired generations of activists.
  • Kurt Cobain performs with Nirvana at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on October 2, 1991.
    Music History
     
     
    Nirvana’s frenetic and sweaty performance at the 9:30 Club on October 2, 1991 occurred just a few weeks before they exploded into megastardom.
  • The Big Chair in Anacostia (Source: Flickr user stgermh. Used via Creative Commons license.)
    Strange But True
     
     
    In one of D.C.'s more creative publicity stunts, an Anacostia furniture store built a giant dining room chair and paid a local model to live on top of it for six weeks in the summer of 1960.

Turkey Tayac's Fight for the Piscataway People

A photograph of the Potomac river. There are two trees on either side of the image. There looks to be two men on a dock in the distance. The water is flat.

For years, Turkey Tayac fought almost singlehandedly for the rights and recognition of his Native American group, the Piscataways. In the 1950s, he found some unlikely allies and successfully fended off an effort to build high rise apartments on sacred Piscataway lands in southern Maryland. A few years later, he helped convince the National Park Service to preserve the land for posterity. It was a remarkable achievement, and Turkey Tayac's work for inclusion would continue, even after his death.

This is a black and white photograph of a woman wearing a mask, she wears a hat with the familiar plus sign associated with the Red Cross. Despite the mask covering most of her face, she wears a serious expression.

The Perils of Pandemic and War: Spanish Flu Brings D.C. to its Knees

It was the start of October and the dog days of summer in the nation’s capital had officially come to an end. The crisp autumn air, a relief to most Washingtonians in years past, was an ominous foreshadowing of the days and weeks to come. There would be no more open windows in homes, streetcars, or workplaces for the foreseeable future. With an invisible killer hanging in the air, Washington would soon find itself in crisis — and transplanted war workers bore the brunt of it.

Mighty Yet Stubby: A Four-Legged War Hero Takes D.C. By Storm

A black and white photo of Stubby. He stands on all fours and stares past the camera. He wears his chamois n blanket with numerous medals pinned on.

Stubby, the World War I war dog looms large in animal and American military history. By no means a professionally trained canine, Stubby was smuggled from Connecticut to France where he first served in a morale position. He took on a greater role as he got used to warfare, aiding the troops any way he could. When he came back to America, he became a celebrity, especially in Washington, DC.  

Encore: How the Tivoli became the Epicenter of a Debate over Urban Renewal

The revitalized Tivoli Theater in Columbia Heights, with tan walls and a red roof in an Italian architectural style. There is a large marquee, and signs with the word "Tivoli."

The Tivoli Theater's grand opening in 1924 was heralded by a grand parade and a carnival which attracted hundreds of Washingtonian's to the Golden Age movie theater. Yet, just over 50 years later, the Tivoli had its windows bolted up and doors closed, no longer the shining light in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. What followed afterwards was a dramatic decades-long fight over the fate of the Tivoli, bringing up questions surrounding urban renewal and the future of the neighborhood, which had suffered greatly after the 1968 riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Grant Us More Jazz on the Radio

An up close shot of Grant talking into a microphone (1960).

Shock rippled through the steamy streets of Washington, DC, in early August 1979. The source of the buzz was not the result of back-to-back testing of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union. It was not even the sale of the nearby Baltimore Orioles to D.C. lawyer Edward Bennett Williams for the grand sum of $12.3 million. The source of the city’s consternation involved the smooth timbre of a DMV staple – or the lack thereof. Felix Grant – one of Washington’s most beloved radio deejays for a generation – was being pulled from the airwaves.

A view of Southwest from above. This is from pre-urban renewal circa 1939. Crowded streets full of buildings are in the foreground and the Capitol building is visible in the background.

The Cost of Urban Renewal in Southwest DC

After World War II, Southwest Washington, DC, underwent a bout of complete urban renewal to clean up the blighted neighborhood. But was it worth it? New buildings went up, but a community was torn apart, economic segregation ensued and the project failed to deliver on many of the promises that were made.


 

Can you hear me now? The Birth of Wireless Communication on L Street

Illustration of the Photophone’s Receiver, Originally From: 1881 1880. http://www.bluehaze.com.au/modlight/ModLightBiblio.htm. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Photophony1.jpg.

Of all the great minds to inhabit Washington, D.C. through the years, perhaps one of the most consequential yet often overlooked, was Alexander Graham Bell. Though his famous 1876 telephone experiment took place in Boston, Bell moved to the District shortly thereafter and worked on what he considered to be his greatest inventions in several Northwest labs over the next few decades. Of his many D.C.-based achievements, perhaps the most significant occurred at his small lab on L Street and led to the eventual birth of fiberoptic communication.

GALA Hispanic Theatre: Celebrating Latin American Culture in the Arts

A closeup on the marquee of the Tivoli theatre. A vertical red sign reads "GALA" and the words on the marquee advertise ticket sales.

The 1970s and 1980s saw increased Latin American immigration to the United States, and to D.C. in particular. At the time, there was limited access to Latin American performing arts, something that Rebecca Read and Hugo Medrano sought to fix when they founded Grupo de Latinoamericanos Artistes (GALA) in 1976. They never expected, though, that GALA would take off and eventually become the National Center for the Latino Performing Arts. Their journey to becoming cultural icons in D.C. also coincided with the changing Latin American community in the District.

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