All 8 wards walking tour
A historic walking tour of DC which takes you through all 8 of the districts wards.
Perhaps the most iconic monument in the nation's capital, the Washington Monument honors America's first president, George Washington. The monument dates back to 1833 when the National Monument Society began raising funds for the completion of this and other monuments. The Society ran out of funds in 1856, leaving the base of the monument unfinished until 1876, when construction resumed. The monument was completed in 1885. In the early 20th century, the monument became the centerpiece of the National Park Service's National Mall and Memorial Parks. Discerning visitors will notice that the base and the top of the monument feature slightly different colors of stone, something that reflects the two different phases of construction. The two decades when construction was paused created a situation where the original quarry was not available for the second phase.
The Sidney Yates Building is a federal building located at 14th Street and Independence Avenue. Built in 1880, the Sydney Yates Building was built to be a simple, functional building in which to house the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Over the years, the Sidney Yates Building has served a number of purposes, including being utilized by the IRS and other agencies as the Auditors Building Complex in the early 1900s. The building currently serving as the headquarters for the U.S. Forest Service, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Before 1850, when Congress barred the slave trade in the District of Columbia, slave pens and auction blocks were a common sight in the Nation's capital. In fact, Washington had over a dozen slave pens, jails, and markets where people were bought and sold. Williams Slave Pen, also known as “The Yellow House” was one of the most notorious slave pens in the region, and operated both as a prison and an auction house. Solomon Northup, a free Black man living in New York, was captured in 1841 by slave traders pretending to be employers. These men drugged Northup and sold him to the proprietors of this slave pen who later sold him to slave traders from New Orlean.s Northup escaped twelve years later and his story became a best-seller and the inspiration for the movie "Twelve Years a Slave." Some historians who have studied maps of the city and the contemporary accounts believe that the Yellow House was located where the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters is located. Others place the slave pen at two other locations along what is now the National Mall. Although it is impossible to determine with certainty that this was the location as this and several other slave pens were often referenced together, it is important to note that Solomon Northup and thousands of others were bought and sold in the nation's capital prior to 1850.
The Dwight D Eisenhower Memorial commemorates the life of the 34th US President who is best known for leading allied forces in World War II. The memorial was designed by Frank Gehry and consists of a series of three statues, inscriptions, and a first-of-its-kind tapestry. The memorial features three statues sculpted by Sergey Eylanbekov, one of Eisenhower as a boy, one as Supreme Allied Commander with troops from the 101st Airborne Division, and one as President featured with civilian and military advisors. The tapestry by Tomas Osiniki depicts the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc on the Normandy coastline. Dedicated on September 18, 2020, this was the newest memorial on or near the National Mall at the time this article was written.
The Museum of the Bible opened on November 17, 2017, after years of planning by museum founder Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby. The museum was completed at a cost of approximately five million dollars. Green originally stated that the mission of the museum was to "inspire confidence on the absolute authority and reliability of the Bible." The museum later changed its mission to emphasize a desire for attendees to investigate and "engage with" the Bible. However, critics of the museum argue that Green's original mission statement has driven much of the museum's creation and rather than offering an objective and scholarly museum of the historical significance of the Bible, the museum is an extension of the Green family's effort to spread their personal view of Christianity.
Town Center East is an apartment complex located in Washington, DC. Built between 1960 and 1961, the Town Center East complex is part of the Town Center Plaza development project, which would mix housing, commercial endeavors, and other projects. Though the complex was originally intended to be a much larger set of apartments running down 3rd and 6th Streets, issues during construction and planning caused the complex to be scaled down to two twin apartment buildings. The Town Center East as a whole was added to the National Register of Historic Places in January of 2014.
Designed by sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the memorial honors the men aboard the British luxury passenger liner who died after the vessel struck an iceberg and sank while on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City in April 1912. Out of the approximately 2,200 passengers and crew members onboard, only about 700 survived the tragedy. Due to the ship’s evacuation policy, which mandated that women and children be the first passengers to be loaded onto the insufficient number of lifeboats, most of the survivors were women and children. Shortly after the disaster, a group of American women founded the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association. Led by Mrs. John Hays Hammond, the organization raised $43,000 by January 1914 to erect a monument honoring the men aboard the RMS Titanic who sacrificed their lives so that the women and children could live. Most of the donations were small and made by tens of thousands of women from across the United States. Although completed in 1916, the memorial was not dedicated until 1931. It originally stood along the Potomac River at the southern end of New Hampshire Avenue. In 1968, it was dismantled to make way for the construction of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The memorial sat in storage briefly before being relocated to Southwest Waterfront Park, where it remains today.
In 2005, the owners of the Montreal Expos sold the team to a new ownership group who brought the Major League franchise to the nation's capital. Although many long-time baseball fans hoped the team would be named in honor of the Senators, Washington's former Major League team, the owners renamed the team the Washington Nationals. This modern stadium has a capacity of 41,546. It is south of the Capital Building and is almost directly beside the Navy Yard. Walking throughout the ballpark, fans will have beautiful views of previously mentioned areas as well as the Washington Monument as a great view of the riverfront. The ballpark officially opened up on March 30, 2008 and cost over $600 million. This ballpark achieved a goal to become the first ballpark in the U.S. to be accredited as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
The Main Sewerage Pumping Station is a historic 2-1/2-story brick structure which houses electric pumps that move wastewater through the D.C. sewage system. It was constructed between 1904-1907 and was one of the first buildings built by the city following the adoption of the McMillan Plan. Designed by the architectural firm of C.A. Didden and Son with architect Oscar Vogt, the Main Pumping Station is representative of the Beaux Arts public works buildings in the District of Columbia. The pumping station reflects the City Beautiful Movement architectural and urban planning reform philosophy popular in the early 20th century.
Pursuit of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth could have ended at the capital city limits if the man guarding the Navy Yard Bridge had simply followed orders. Instead, Booth escaped the city to lead Union forces on a 12-day chase across Maryland into Virginia.
Established in 1988, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site preserves the home and legacy of Frederick Douglass, a formerly enslaved man who became one of the most influential people of the 19th century. Douglass was a leading abolitionist, newspaper editor, civil rights advocate, author, orator, and statesman. This Victorian-style home was built between 1855 and 1859 for John Van Hook. Douglass purchased the home in 1877 with the aid of Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company. Douglass and his wife, Anna, moved into the home in 1878 after he received an appointment as the marshal for the District of Columbia. Frederick Douglass lived in the home until his death in 1895 and it was acquired by the National Park Service in 1962. In 2017, the site was used to represent Washington D.C. on its commemorative America the Beautiful quarter-dollar coins.
The Congressional Cemetery is a privately owned cemetery which is known for being the resting place of numerous historical figures. The Cemetery is still active and sells plots for anyone, not just for Congressional members. In addition to graves, the Cemetery contains a number of monuments, such as the Public Vault, the Arsenal Disaster Monument, and the planned National LGBT Veteran’s Memorial Project.
In the early 1970s, the Women's Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements were gaining traction. However, the Lesbian movement faced sexism and oppression from an ingrained patriarchal force from inside the feminist movement. The Furies Collective, a lesbian feminist group tried to challenge and overcome the patriarchy by creating a place for the collective of strong, lesbian women to expressive themselves. According to Brown in an interview with the MAKERS, she faced opposition from the heterosexual women of NOW and Betty Friedan, who purged the lesbians from their organization, known as the "lavender menace" for fear of becoming too radical, that it would hurt their movement. Brown states that these women were "rather privileged and very bright, [they] treated lesbians the way that men treated them." This rowhouse was one of the locations in which the Furies Collective held their meetings between the spring of 1971 and the summer of 1973, and it was also a communal living space for the women, in which they shared everything.
The effort to build this statue originated with donations made by formerly enslaved persons, many of whom wished to create a grand monument honoring the role of African American soldiers in ending slavery. Other donors wished to create a monument that focussed on Lincoln's decision to draft the Emancipation Proclamation and his reluctant journey from seeing the war as one to preserve the Union to one of ending slavery. The monument that was dedicated on April 14, 1876, betrayed both intentions. A controversial design both today and at the time it was created, the statue emphasizes deference to Lincoln "The Great Emancipator." Despite the intent of African Americans who funded the statue, the design that was eventually selected appears to suggest that Lincoln's actions alone led to the freedom of former slaves. The original design, which would have featured multiple statues of African Americans pursuing their own freedom in the antebellum period and throughout the Civil War, was prohibitively expensive. After the effort to create that monument stalled, the funds raised by African Americans under the leadership of John Mercer Langston were appropriated by a committee who were leading their own efforts to create a monument to honor Lincoln.
Stanton Park is one of the largest parks in the Capitol Hill area of Washington D.C., and it was included in the original layout for the city designed by French engineer Pierre L'Enfant. The park is named after Edward M. Staton (1814-1869) who served as the U.S. Secretary of War under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. In the center is a statue of Nathanael Greene (1742-1786) a major general in the American Revolutionary War. The statue depicts Greene astride a horse that rests atop a concrete base. The park was originally intended to be a right-of-way for Washington's street system. The land was not utilized as a park until 1867. Four years after the park's completion, it was named in honor of Stanton, who died two years prior in 1869.
Union Station, the third most-visited tourist destination in the world, services more than 37 million passengers, tourists, and shoppers each year. Designed by famed architectural planner Daniel Burnham, Union Station was created to provide a centralized location for trains running into the nation's capital. The rapid growth of the city necessitated renovation to the building, creating more restaurants, shops, and services. Today, Union Station is also a major connecting hub for Amtrak, MARC, Greyhound, and the DC Metro.
In the early 1990s Congress unanimously approved legislation to create a monument to the "victims" of Communist regimes. Bill Clinton signed the building of the Victims of Communism Memorial into law and George W. Bush dedicated the monument accompanied by critics of Communist regimes around the world who had suffered as a result of their activism. The centerpiece of the memorial is the artist's rendition of the Goddess of Democracy. The monument received little criticism in the United States, but for many who lived in current of former Communist nations, the statue was a cultural extension of the Cold War. While acknowledging that many people suffered in nations that were ruled by leaders who claimed to support the goals of the Communism, these critics pointed out that many of Western leaders committed acts that caused suffering to people around the world in the name of fighting Communism. Chinese scholar Shi Yinhong believed that the statue's indirect reference to his nation was inappropriate and pointed out that his nation has not created monuments to the millions of people in the United States and beyond who have suffered under capitalism.
Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., holds the title for the first public high school for African American students in the United States. It was established in 1870, with 45 students in attendance, and only one teacher. From 1870 until 1891, the school resided in many different locations, before finding a semi-permanent home on M Street. Finally in 1916, the high school moved to its present location at 1301 New Jersey Ave NW, where it is still open today.
The African American Civil War Museum opened to the public in January 1999 to honor the heroic struggle for freedom and civil rights of the Americans of African descent. The museum both highlights and commemorates the role of African Americans in the United States Civil War, particularly those that served in United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiments. The museum collection comprises a wide assortment of photographs, newspaper articles, replicas of period clothing, weaponry, and uniforms. Using photographs, documents, and state of the art audio and visual equipment, the museum helps visitors understand the African American's heroic and largely unknown struggle for freedom.
Established in 1980, the 9:30 Club has become one of the nation's most famous small concert venues. The Washington, D.C. club has hosted bands and artists such as Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as legends like Tony Bennet. The club has been identified by music experts for Rolling Stone and Billboard as the top nightclub in the nation for live music.
This building was the historic home of General Oliver Otis Howard, a Unionist during the American Civil War and co-founder of Howard University - one of the earliest higher level institutions devoted to the education of freedmen. It served as his residence while he was president of the University between 1869 and 1874, and is the oldest surviving building in the campus. It was added to the list of National Historic Landmarks in Washington, D.C. in May, 1974.
The Hebrew Home for the Aged and Jewish Social Service Agency are two historic buildings located in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Starting in 1925, the original facility offered housing and medical assistance to struggling members of the local Jewish Community. The Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) was constructed in 1940; the Society provided relief to needed families and new immigrants. Owing to the ever-increasing need for housing and healthcare, the hospital and JSSA relocated to Rockville, Maryland in 1968. The historic structures on Spring Road were added to the National Register of Historic places in 2014.
The Riggs-Tomkins Building was built in 1922 by the now-defunct Riggs Bank, which PNC Bank acquired in 2005. Riggs was established in 1840 and became one of the city's most prestigious banks, used by over 20 presidents including Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower (for this reason it earned the nickname "the bank of presidents"). The building was one of Rigg's first branch locations. In 1923, it became home to the first location of the WRC radio station, which is the oldest, continuously operating radio station in the city and is now known as WTEM. The building is also named for builder, businessman and engineer Charles Hook Tompkins, who specialized in reinforced concrete construction and erected around 500 buildings in the city by the early 1930s. An excellent example of Classical Revival architecture, the Riggs-Tomkins Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
This memorial honors electrical engineer and inventor of the wireless telegraph, Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), whose work in the field of wireless telegraphy established the basis for radio communication. In 1901, Marconi was the first to broadcast a radio signal across the Atlantic Ocean from Cornwall in England to St. John's in Newfoundland, Canada. He shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in physics for his work with German scientist Karl Ferdinand Braun. The memorial consists of a granite base, a bronze bust of Marconi, and a bronze sculpture of a female figure sitting on a globe amidst clouds with her legs stretched backward. Her left arm points forward, her hair flows backward, and her right arm is bent at the elbow. Her posture, hair, and the drapery around her legs symbolize, according to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form, the "concepts of speed and dynamism." The memorial is a contributing property of the Mount Pleasant Historic District.
Joshua Peirce built this house in 1823 overlooking the Rock Creek valley, and converted some of the estate into an 82-acre commercial nursery, the first in the nation's capital. In honor of Swedish naturalist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, Peirce named the mansion and nursery Linnaean Hill, and locally it is known as the Klingle Mansion. After Peirce's death in 1869, his nephew, Joshua Peirce Klingle, lived there with his wife. He sold the mansion and land to the federal government for the creation of Rock Creek Park in 1890. During the twentieth century it served as a nature center, and now it is the park's headquarters.