• Resurrection City spent six muddy weeks on the National Mall, within view of landmarks such as the Capitol. (Photo source: Wikipedia Commons)
    MLK's Final Dream
     
     
    In 1968, just weeks after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, impoverished Americans flocked to Washington to live out his final dream: economic equality for all.
  • In the early morning hours of May 9, 1970 President Nixon drove to the Lincoln Memorial and mingled with a group of anti-war demonstrators. Here, Nixon chats with Barbara Hirsch, 24, of Cleveland, Ohio (left) and Lauree Moss, of Detroit, Mich. (Photo: © Bettmann/CORBIS)
    Strange But True
     
     
    Just days after the Kent State tragedy, President Nixon made a bizarre pre-dawn visit to the Lincoln Memorial to talk with anti-war protesters.
  • Portrait of Lead Belly, National Press Club, Washington, D.C., between 1938 and 1948 (Photo: William P. Gottlieb, Library of Congress)
    Impressions of Washington
     
     
    Lead Belly's "Bourgeois Blues," written about his first visit to Washington in 1937, was an incisive indictment of the city’s racial segregation.
  • A group of men are led by police out of a building in handcuffs
    Holy Warriors
     
     
    The story of the D.C. 9: the Catholics who became convicts in order to stop the war in Vietnam
  • Julius Hobson: Getting Out of the Rat Race
    Julius Hobson
     
     
    In 1964, when D.C. wouldn't do anything about the rat problem in Shaw, Julius Hobson gave them an ultimatum: fix the problem, or have it in Georgetown.
  • Student protesters face down riot police on Route 1, University of Maryland, 1970 (Photo source: University of Maryland Special Collections)
    It Happened Here
     
     
    When President Nixon announced the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in the spring of 1970, the College Park erupted in the "biggest and most violent" protest in University of Maryland history.

Anne Royall and the President's Clothes

Peter Waddell painting of the Tiber Creek outside the White House, painted in 2009

When the stresses of life in Washington became too much, John Quincy Adams calmed his nerves by taking early-morning swims in the Potomac River. In a move that might be considered questionable by today’s standards, he especially liked to soak in the brisk, cold water wearing nothing but his own skin. According to local lore, it once got him into a bit of trouble: Anne Royall, a trailblazing journalist, caught him in a very awkward situation. But is there any truth in the tale?

“Porn Practically Overnight:” Adult Bookstores Make Washington Home

14th St. NW, 1972

Much like any city, Washington’s landscape is ever evolving, and the rise of gentrification has transformed many of the city’s neighborhoods. Take downtown 14th street, for example. Today, 14th street offers all the hangout spots a D.C. millennial yuppie might desire: hip bars, coffee shops, sleek gyms equipped with spin bikes... In the 1970s and 1980s, though, a less-conventional business threatened to displace the street’s small neighborhood shops: adult bookstores.

“Ground [the statues] into dust!” – The Downfall of Two District Memorials

The Discovery

With the recent protests in response to the murder of George Floyd and the continued unearthing of our nation’s racist history, conversation regarding what history we set in stone is back at the forefront. In the District, memorial removals are extremely rare occurrences, but that doesn’t mean they have never happened before. In the late 1950s, two of the Capitol building’s most significant monuments were removed, despite the fact that a future president himself advocated for their installment: Horatio Greenough’s The Rescue and Luigi Persico’s Discovery of America. Largely due to public pressure, the statues were taken down during the building’s remodeling in 1958 and never re-erected.

Washington Post Oct 15, 1976

The District’s Own Asian Gatsby: Koreagate & the “Tongsun Park Problem”

Depending on how you look at it, the 1976 Koreagate scandal didn’t really start with Tongsun Park. But when the media caught wind of “the most sweeping allegations of congressional corruption ever investigated by the foreign government,” Tongsun Park’s charm and personality made him an entertaining antagonist. Part of the intrigue was that Park’s story didn’t conform to the stereotypical immigrant narrative. Park, born in 1935, grew up with wealth. By the 1970s, Park’s opulence – “expensive homes, lavish Embassy Row parties, worldwide jet travel and purchase of his own downtown office building” – made him a Washington celebrity, the District’s “Asian Gatsby.”

"Belair at Bowie": Segregated Suburbia

Karl Gregory tries to buy a home in Belair at Bowie

By 1963, “Belair at Bowie” was thriving. Since its opening in 1961, over 2000 houes had been occupied. But its prosperity hid an uncomfortable truth. William Levitt’s vision of the perfect neighborhood included attractive homes, affordable prices, comfort, and community—but only one type of neighbor. From the moment Levitt arrived in Washington, local activists—and even the government—became aware of the developer’s racist policy: none of the homes in Belair could be sold to people of color.  

A General, a Queen, and the President

Tom Thumb, -1883, with wife in wedding costume., 1863. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2005685454/.

February of 1863 saw one of the most anticipated celebrity weddings of its time—after all, what better to provide a momentary distraction from the realities of the Civil War than a little star gossip? The bride and groom were General Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton) and the Queen of Beauty Lavinia Warren, of P.T. Barnum’s American Museum (which would later become Barnum’s Circus) in New York City. At 12:30 p.m. on February 10, 1863 in Manhattan’s Grace Episcopal Church, Tom and Lavinia wed in the presence of an enormous crowd, which spilled out onto Broadway and for many more miles into the City, thanks to Barnum’s extensive publicizing of the event. People across America were fascinated by Barnum’s Tom Thumb and the President of the United States was no exception. The Lincolns were so enthralled by Barnum’s acts that they invited the newlywed Strattons to the White House for a wedding reception just a few days later.

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