Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Walking Home Along America's Main Street

I try to run or walk home as much as I can after work, and now that I've committed to walk home at least once a week in my 35 Before 36 list, I'm doing it even more.  It's only about 2.5 miles to my house on Capitol Hill, so there's really no excuse not to.

I realize that sometimes I'm in such a rush to get home that I don't appreciate all of the history and tradition, government and policy, and art and culture that I walk past every day.  I can't imagine many other people have that same wondrous walk home (although a walk home along a river or through a small town is remarkable in its own way). 

Obviously the specific view changes with the route I take.  Yesterday, I walked home along America's Main Street--Pennsylvania Avenue.  I took my Blackberry with me so I could share some of the scenery.  Here's only some of what I saw: 

The Old Post Office.  One of my favorite buildings in D.C.  It's hard for me to imagine that so much space was needed to process the mail:

The FBI Building in all of its Form Equals Function gloriousness:

The Navy Memorial:

The National Archives:

The Newseum.  A very cool tribute to what we consider news and how the news is communicated to the public: 

The Canadian Embassy: 

The National Gallery of Art: 

The Federal Trade Commission: 

YOUR U.S. Capitol:

The National Mall looking west: 

The U.S. Botantical Gardens.  Also on my 35 Before 36 list:

Statute of President Garfield.  I never figured out what he did to be recognized in such a prominent position in front of the Capitol:

YOUR U.S. Capitol again.  I think this building it so great that it warrants two a side view in addition to the front view we saw already:

The Cannon House Office Building.  There are two other House Office Buildings, but in the interest of showing some restraint here, I included only one:

The Library of Congress Jefferson Building.  Again, there are two other buildings, but I didn't include them all: 

And, last but not least, the Hawk 'n' Dove, a Hill institution, where Hill interns and staffers have talked politics since 1967.  
Thanks for keeping me company on my walk home!!


  1. Wow! You are lucky to be surrounded by such great scenery girl! Thanks for sharing some of it with us. :)

  2. Great walk! I love sketching around D.C.

    Have a great day,

  3. WOW!! that is such a beautiful walk! thanks for inviting us :)

  4. What an amazing walk home. I have only been to DC once and loved every minute of it! I cannot wait to go back. I love the history!

  5. History Nerd Checks In:

    Garfield was the 2nd US presidential assassination in 16 yrs, occuring in Washington DC on July 2, 1881, inside the Sixth Street Station of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad.

    Robert Todd Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln's son), Garfield's Secretary of War, was walking right beside him when he was shot.

    He was only 49, which made him the youngest POTUS to die in office (until the JFK assassination).

    He had the 2nd-shortest presidency (200 days; it would be amazing if anyone were to top William Henry Harrison's month in office).

    He was the 2nd and last of the 4 assassinated presidents to be shot in Washington DC (McKinley was killed in Buffalo, NY, JFK in Dallas, TX). .

    Some quirky Garfield facts - he was a former Math teacher and was published in The New England Journal of Education on something my Math-impaired brain cannot begin to comprehend, but it's called a trapezoidal proof of the Pythagorean theorem. His personal library was said to contain 3000+ books and he read constantly. Two months before he was shot, his wife had almost died, having contracted that scourge of the Potomac Swamp, malaria.

    Unlike the other 3 assassinations, where the POTUS was either killed instantly or died not long after, Garfield lingered on and suffered a painful death (it was 1881, after all) 2 months later, on September 19, 1881.

    The bullet had lodged behind his pancreas, his doctors couldn't find it, they were poking around in there with bare hands (sterilization not a given for surgery yet amongst American doctors), and leading him to develop lead poisoning, blood poisoning, an anyeurism, pneumonia, and finally a massive heart attack.

    While he was still at the White House and suffering from fever in high summer, the first recorded (and very primitive, 6 tons of ice-powered) air conditioner was installed to blow through existing heating ducts into his bedroom. lowering the room temp by 20F.

    Alexander Graham Bell invented a device to try to find the bullet, sort of like a metal detector for humans. It probably would've worked had Garfield's personal physician not insisted the bullet was lodged somewhere in the POTUSs right side, and not in the left where it was found during the autopsy. (Ironically Garfield was also the first POTUS to speak on the phone, to Bell himself.) Had Garfield been shot today, he would've almost certainly survived as easily as Reagan did.

    Through most of the ordeal Garfield was very much conscious, though he wasn't really able to function as POTUS effectively during this period. That was a contrast to the promising and brisk start of his term, which including appointing a Supreme Court Justice, campaigning for civil rights for freed slaves at a time when that was growing increasingly unpopular and some Reconstruction acts had already been repealed, taking a stand against polygamy, reorganizing the US Postal Service, doing some fancy economics with bonds that was estimated to have saved the US millions, and trying to insitute the concept of what we now call public education for all.

    The best thing they could think of to do after failing to remove the bullet was to take him to the Jersey Shore for its *beneficial air* (seeing as it worked for his wife's illness). Garfield died there. This meant a funeral train similar to Lincoln's, this time to return a dead POTUS to Washington to lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda, then west to his home town of Cleveland, Ohio where he was temporarily stuck in a vault until an absolutely enormous *tomb* (more like a building) was erected. He was reinterred with great ceremony, with heads of state attending, on May 19, 1882. So the nation had approximately 10 months of presidential assassination drama and it was big news. Lincoln had been a martyr killed by a Southerner; Garfield's shooting was shocking because the motive was so petty.

  6. Because Garfield had been shot by Charles Guiteau, a *disgruntled office seeker*, the immediate effect of Garfield's death was to abolish the system of rewarding supporters with government jobs, and therefore is directly responsible for the US civil service system.

    Now you know :-D

    And I am apparently too long-winded for Blogger :-P