Catholic Church

"Dow Shalt Not Kill": The Story of the D.C. Nine

Four men are led out of a building by several police (source: Washington Area Spark)

“Nine persons broke into the Washington offices of Dow Chemical Co. at 15th and L Streets nw. yesterday, poured what they said was human blood on furniture and equipment and threw files out a fourth floor window,” read the front page of the Washington Post on Sunday, March 23, 1969.  The images which accompanied the article showed a chaotic scene: one protestor heaving files out of a broken window; papers scattered, as if struck by a tornado, across the pavement below. But these were not your ordinary criminals. 

L'Enfant's Funeral: An Honor 84 Years Overdue

On April 28, 1909, a funeral procession nearly a mile long paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue and M Street, complete with fine carriages and a military escort. Throughout Washington, D.C., flags were displayed at half mast, spectators lined the streets, and school children were allowed a break from their studies to glimpse out the window and see it pass by. The man they were there to honor was Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant… who died in 1825.

Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass on National Mall, 1979. (AP/Paul Vathis)

D.C.'s First Papal Visit, 1979

Streets are being shut down... Huge crowds are expected to overwhelm the city's Metro system... There are security concerns... For longtime Washingtonians, the excitement over Pope Francis's inaugural visit is like turning back the clock.

Pope John Paul II during his 1993 visit to the United States. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Pope's Condo in Alexandria

Every house has a history but few can say that they were blessed by the Pope – especially here in America. There is, however, one Alexandria, Virginia condominium unit that can make the claim. In 1976, while still a cardinal, the future Pope John Paul II visited the Parkfairfax apartment of Polish-American journalist John Szostak and offered his blessing... after a near accident with a Batmobile toy belonging to one of Szostak's children.

The Closest Thing to a "Little Italy" in Washington

Holy Rosary Church, which was built by Italian immigrants in the early 20th Century. Credit: Farragutful, via Wikimedia Common

The great surge of Italian immigration to the U.S., which began in the 1880s and lasted until 1920, brought about four million Italians to this country. Many flocked to places such as Little Italy in lower Manhattan and comparable ethnic neighborhoods in Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, where new arrivals could speak their native language, find familiar food and churches in which to worship, and plug into a network that helped them to find employment. But Washington, D.C. didn't attract similarly large numbers of Italians. It was a government town without mills, factories or a commercial port, and there were fewer opportunities for unskilled former rural dwellers without language skills to support themselves. Instead, the area drew smaller numbers of skilled immigrants, such as the construction workers, artists and tradesmen who labored on the government buildings erected in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Those early Italian immigrants to DC never really established a true Little Italy of their own. Instead, they mostly settled in two residential neighborhoods that vanished long ago — Swampoodle, near the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, and the Judiciary Square area.