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.
Before 1885, We’wha had never seen a city, and the city of Washington, D.C. had never seen a person quite like We’wha. Alongside being a pottery maker and cultural ambassador, We’wha was a lhamana, who in the Zuni tradition are male-bodied people who also possess female attributes. Existing outside of the Western gender binary, lhamana have always inhabited a special role in Zuni society, as intermediaries between men and women, who perform special cultural and spiritual duties. More recent scholarship coined the term Two Spirit "as a means of unifying various gender identities and expressions of Native American / First Nations / Indigenous individuals."
It started with a rumor. D.C. police were planning to spy on members of Congress. But within weeks, many Washingtonians weren't just asking if they could trust law enforcement. They seemed ready to scrap the city's government altogether.
What do a five-year-old boy, a woman working at a train station and an African American newspaperman have in common? Samuel J. Seymour, Sarah V. E. White and Samuel H. Hatton were little-known Washingtonian witnesses to some of the most influential murders in history: those of U.S. Presidents.
From idea to completion, it took 105 years to build the Washington Monument and open it to the public. The elevator has quite a history of its own — used for construction, open for guests, closed for repairs...
Washington has seen its fair share of crimes: mafia operations, drug networks, triple murder… But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, one of the city’s most pervasive crimes was one we today might find difficult to imagine: chicken thievery. In today’s urban landscape, the phenomenon may seem difficult to imagine; but 150 years ago chicken robbery was widespread -- and serious business. The practice was dangerous and, at times, even fatal.
Back in 1887, the Baltimore Sun was looking for a bold way to celebrate its 50th anniversary and to declare itself one of the nation's premiere newspapers. What better way to do that than with the first skyscraper in the nation's capital?
On a beautiful June day in 1889, 25,000 people covered nearly six acres of the Smithsonian grounds for a glorious awards ceremony. Of the crowd, 22,000 were children, ranging in age from toddlers to high schoolers, and were the first members of the new Washington Post Amateur Authors’ Association, which the newspaper started to encourage students to excel in English composition. The incentive to join the Association? The opportunity to enter the essay writing competition for the chance to win a stunning solid gold medal.
Although it might seem like these handsome gold medals would be the main highlight of this event, the jewelry actually wasn’t the only gem to come out of the ceremony ... Those present at the Smithsonian grounds that day were also witnesses to the premiere of what would become one of the most famous pieces of music in history: "The Washington Post March."
April 14th, 1865 marks the date of one of the most shocking and memorable events in Washington and American history: the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. By 10:30 p.m. that night, the President’s death was looking imminent, and after hearing this news just two blocks over at 7th and D Streets NW, Gustave Lansburgh, owner of Lansburgh & Bros. Fancy Goods Agency, decided to start decorating his store in mourning black. It was this small decision that would transform Lansburgh’s dry goods store into one of the most prosperous Washington department stores for the next 113 years.