DC

The Music Behind the Corcoran's Pump Me Up Exhibit

Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, Rare Essence, Minor Threat, SOA.

If you lived in DC in the 1980s, you probably recognize these as local Go-Go and hardcore bands. If that's the case, the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s newest exhibit, Pump Me Up, is sure to invoke nostalgia. For those who have come here more recently, the exhibit offers a rare opportunity to see how much DC has changed in the last thirty years. (You definitely get a different image of the 80s than at a Legwarmers concert at the State Theatre!) Either way, it's worth a visit.

To put it mildly, the 1980s was a tumultuous period for the District of Columbia. There was a lot going on and homegrown music was right at the center of the city's experience.

Stephen Decatur

Every Second Counts: The Decatur-Barron Duel of 1820

In the early 19th century, taking a life was as easy as taking offense. Just ask Commodore Stephen Decatur. On this day in 1820, he was killed in a duel leaving (as some claim) his spirit to wander and perhaps seek retribution from the parties that coldly arranged his death.

Decatur was born in 1779 and had a mostly praise-worthy navy career, earning “the heart of a nation” and the malice of a few whose careers he stepped over to achieve his own greatness. One of these was Commodore James Barron.

Things got ugly between the two men with the help of two others who apparently wanted a piece of Decatur, too.

The District's Claim to the Daiquiri

Though it may not really feel like it when you go outside lately, spring is almost here. It won't be long before people all over the DMV are sipping drinks by the pool. Pina coladas... mojitos... and, of course, everyone's favorite homegrown cocktail, the daiquiri.

Ummm...?

Okay, okay, the daiquiri is not truly a Washington creation -- it was first mixed in Cuba -- but it has a strong early connection to the District. So, we have some basis to claim it. Read on!

The Washington Post Gets Snarky in 1891

Around these parts it’s pretty common to have buildings named after politicians. The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the Rayburn House Office Building, the Tip O’Neill Building, the Clinton E.P.A. Building – the list goes on and on.

Well, back in the 1890s, the Washington Post felt that Rep. Joseph G. Cannon (R – Illinois) deserved a different kind of recognition for his work on the National Zoo project.

Bomb Rocks U.S. Capitol

Washington Post cartoon March 1, 1971.

In the wee hours of the morning on March 1, 1971, a disturbing phone call came in to the Senate telephone switchboard. A man “with a hard low voice” told the operator that the U.S. Capitol would blow up in 30 minutes.

In the past, operators had fielded similar threatening calls from time to time, but all of them had turned out to be false alarms or pranks. This one, however, would be different.

Two bison in front of the Smithsonian Castle, downtown Washington, D.C., circa 1880's. The bison were used as models for Smithsonian Institution taxidermists and were part of the Live Animal Collection, forerunner to the National Zoo. (Photo source: Smithsonian Archives)

Happy Birthday, National Zoo!

On March 2, 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed legislation establishing a zoological park along Rock Creek in Northwest Washington “for the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people.” But, of course, the backstory began years before.

Prior to the creation of the Zoo park, the Smithsonian kept a large collection of animals in pens and cages on the National Mall. Washingtonians flocked to see the motley collection which included a jaguar, grizzly bear, lynx and buffalo.

Buffalo grazing on the National Mall! Can you imagine?

Little Known Victims of the Lincoln Assassination

Currier and Ives, The Assassination of Lincoln at Ford's Theater, April 14, 1865. (Photo Source: Library of Congress)

The events of April 14, 1865 at Ford's Theatre in Washington are well know. Actor John Wilkes Booth went into President Lincoln's box and shot him. The President was mortally wounded and died the next morning. Meanwhile, Booth led authorities on a 12 day chase that ended with his own death in Virginia. What you may not know, however, is that there were others were victimized that April night. This is their haunting story.

Commemorating the Four Chaplains

The Second World War abounds with stories of heroism. This weekend, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of a now little-known event: the sinking of the U.S. Army transport ship Dorchester and the brave sacrifices made by four chaplains, including the Washington-raised Rabbi Alexander Goode.

Thanks to David McKenzie from the Jewish Historical Society of Washington for contributing this guest post!

Pages