• 1874 Illustration of U.S. Botanic Garden
    National Mall
     
     
    The U.S. Botanic Garden dates to the earliest planning of the capital city. Many of the Founding Fathers believed that a living repository for plants would have countless benefits, from the production of food and medicine to the scientific study of international specimens to the enjoyment of aesthetic beauty.
  • The real life "Smokey the Bear," shown here frolicking in a pool at the National Zoo c.1950, was the embodiment of a fire safety public awareness campaign that started during World War II. (Photo credit: Francine Schroeder, Smithsonian Institution Archives. Used for educational purposes in accordance with the Smithsonian Archives terms of use.)
    Strange But True
     
     
    How did Smokey the Bear come to have his very own personal Washington, D.C. zipcode? Glad you asked.
  • David Bowie jams at a party thrown by publicist Rodney Bingenheimer at lawyer Paul Figen's house in January 1971, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
    David Bowie: 1947-2016
     
     
    In 1971 a largely unknown David Bowie landed at Dulles Airport and stayed in the Washington, D.C. area on his first visit to America.
  • Sam's Park and Shop
     
     
    In 1930, it shaped the modern American shopping experience and was the model for the type of shopping-center that is still standard today.
  • Women suffragists picketing in front of the White House in 1917. (Source Library of Congress via Wikipedia)
    Women's Suffrage
     
     
    While tame by today's standards, a century ago, Washington was the site of "the most militant move ever made by the suffragists of this country."

The First Sting

Lt. Robert Arscott and the Operation Sting team sit amid stolen goods

In 1976 D.C. police dressed as cartoon Mafiosos and bought millions in stolen goods from local thieves. They called it "Operation Sting," and soon police across the country were launching "sting operations" of their own. But not everyone was so enamored with the tactic, especially the communities it was being used to target.

The Saengerbund Clubhouse: Parties, Concerts, and Bowling

“Washington Sängerbund in 1862.” https://www.saengerbund.org/history.html

The Washington Saengerbund was officially established on April 20th, 1851, and has gone on to become the longest enduring German singing society in the District. From 1874 to 1893, the society met above Charles “Baldy” Dismer’s restaurant at 708 K St. NW in Mount Vernon Square. During that time, the organization enjoyed exponential growth, consisting of nearly 500 members both active and passive by 1894. This influx of members created an evident need for the society to have its own clubhouse, and this dream became a reality in November 1893 when the Saengerbund purchased a house at 314 C Street NW, which would become the site of many extravagent parties, concerts, and bowling matches for the next 27 years.

1898 pen-and-ink drawing of a periodical cicada's life cycle

Brood X in the Eighteenth-Century Headlines

As a historian, seeing the media “buzz” surrounding cicadas makes me wonder how our ancestors reacted to their periodical swarms. Who were the first people to realize what was going on? Did they understand the seventeen-year cycle? Were they afraid, curious, or unbothered? As I suspected, Washington-area locals have been fascinated by Brood X for a very long time. 

The First Delegate

Norton Chipman

A century before Walter Fauntroy and Julius Hobson competed for the modern District Delegate seat, another man held the seat. His election and the eventual elimination of his seat are a lesser known part of the history of race and democracy in the District.

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