Posts Tagged ‘Foggy Bottom’

Capital Harvest on the Plaza

During today’s lunch break I rode to the weekly farmer’s market, Capital Harvest on the Plaza (CHoP), located on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP) in Downtown, D.C.  Actually, instead of “during” today’s lunch break it would be more accurate to say “for” today’s lunch break.  Because I went there to eat lunch at one of the many eateries that sets up as part of the farmer’s market.

In addition to ready-to-eat, farm-fresh edibles and artisanal novelties, the weekly farmers market allows local farmers, artisans, and producers to sell home grown, fresh organic fruits, vegetables, meat, and other locally produced food, as well as flowers and canned and baked goods, at an affordable price.  You can also stop by their information booth and stock up on recipes and tips for maintaining a healthy and socially responsible lifestyle.

The CHoP Farmers Market is open Fridays, spring through fall, from May 3 to November 22, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and is accessible via metro by either the Federal Triangle (blue/orange/silver lines) or Metro Center (red/blue/orange/silver lines). Parking is available onsite in the Reagan Building’s underground parking garage.  But, of course, I prefer to ride a bike there.

There are also a number of other good farmer’s markets in the city that are also open during the workweek, including: the U.S. Department of Agriculture Outdoor Farmers Market, located next to the U.S.D.A. Headquarters at 12th and Independence Avenue in southwest D.C. (also open Fridays); the Freshfarm by the White House Market located at 812 Vermont Avenue in northwest, D.C. (open Thursdays); the Penn Quarter Market, located at 801 F Street in northwest D.C. (also open on Thursdays); the Foggy Bottom Market, located at 901 23rd Street in northwest, D.C. (open Wednesdays); the Rose Park Recreation Center Farmers Market, located at 1499 27th Street in Georgetown (also open on Wednesdays), and; the CityCenterDC Market, located at 1098 New York Avenue in northwest, D.C. (open Tuesdays).  There are additional farmers markets throughout the city that are open on the weekends as well.  Now, if I could just find a good farmers market open on Mondays.

[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

Harvard Field Hospital Unit Memorial

On this ride I discovered this small, of-the-beaten path memorial on the grounds behind the American National Red Cross Headquarters building (MAP), in D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.  The simplicity of the memorial naturally directs visitors to the plaque on top, which tells the story of the memorial.


This plaque acknowledges the public spirit of Harvard University and the dedication of the staff of the American Red Cross – Harvard Field Hospital Unit, who provided and staffed a pre-fabricated hospital sent to Salisbury, England, in the summer of 1941 to deal with the potential outbreak of communicable diseases.

In particular, homage is paid to the following – Reported missing and presumed lost’ on the voyage to Britain:
Ruth Breckenridge – Housemother
Nancie M. Prett, R.N.
Phylis L. Evans, R.N.
Phylis L. Evans, R.N.
Dorothea L. Koehn, R.N.
Dorothy C. Morse, R.N.

In July 1942 the hospital was transferred to the United States Army. Following the war, the facility reverted to the British Ministry of Health and was the site of the Common Cold Research Unit. It finally closed in 1990.

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]


Bernardo de Gálvez Statue

On today’s lunchtime bike ride I rode to Gálvez Park, a small park located at Virginia Avenue and 22nd Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, to see a statue entitled Bernardo de Gálvez.  The statue is part of a series, entitled “Statues of the Liberators,” honoring liberators and other national figures of western-hemisphere countries.  The statues can be found along Virginia Avenue between 18th and 25th Streets, near the Headquarters of the Organization of American States in northwest D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood. The statues were erected by various Latin American countries, and are maintained by the National Park Service.

Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Viscount of Galveston and Count of Gálvez, was the Spanish Governor of Louisiana from 1777-1785, prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. During his time as governor he staged a three-year military campaign that tied up significant numbers of British troops, allowing the . to capture British-controlled territories such as Baton Rouge, Pensacola, and Natchez. Gálvez also aided the American settlers with supplies and soldiers. Later he was among those who drafted the Treaty of Paris of 1783, negotiated between the United States and Great Britain, ended the Revolutionary War. In appreciation, America’s new president, George Washington, took Gálvez with him in the parade on July 4th. This is the reason that many U.S. cities and landmarks are named for him. Galveston, Texas, Galveston Bay, and St. Bernard Parish Louisiana are examples of these.

And on December 16, 2014, the United States Congress conferred honorary citizenship on Gálvez, citing him as a “hero of the Revolutionary War who risked his life for the freedom of the United States people and provided supplies, intelligence, and strong military support to the war effort.”

The statue, depicting Gálvez atop his horse, was sculpted by Juan de Ávalos of Spain, and sits atop a marble base that is inscribed, “Bernardo De Gálvez, the great Spanish soldier, carried out a courageous campaign in Lands bordering the lower Mississippi. This masterpiece of military strategy lightened the pressure of the English in the war against American settlers who were fighting for their independence. May this statue of Bernardo de Gálvez serve as a reminder that Spain offered the blood of her soldiers for the cause of American Independence.” It was installed in its current location on this day in 1976.

The bronze equestrian statue is idiosyncratic in that it both celebrates a Spanish loyalist and was paid for and donated by King Juan Carlos of Spain to the American people in celebration of the United States Bicentennial.  It is Gálvez’s role as a helper of the rebellious colonies during the Revolutionary War which the statue celebrates.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]


General John A. Rawlins Statue

On this lunchtime bike ride I visited Rawlins Park, which is located between 18th Street, 19th Street, E Street and New York Avenue (MAP), in northwest D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.  Located on the eastern end of the park is a statue of General John A Rawlins, and it is the a focal point of the park named after him.  The monument and park are owned and maintained by the National Park Service.  The statue was installed in 1874, and was relocated in 1880, and then again 1886, before eventually being located in Rawlins Park.  The bronze statue, which rests on a granite base, is part of a group entitled “The Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.” which are spread out through much of the central and northwest areas of the city.  They are listed as a group on the National Register of Historic Places.

John Aaron Rawlins was born on January 13, 1831, in Gelena, Illinois.  When his father left the family and departed for California for the great gold rush in 1849, the teenaged Rawlins became the head of the family.  Despite receiving little formal education,  he became a lawyer and was admitted to the Illinois State Bar a few years later in 1854.  He began practicing law, and  became involved in state politics.  This led t0 becoming the city attorney in the city of Galena beginning in 1857.

Rawlins was a Douglas Democrat, and was a successful politician with a passion for military life by the time the Civil War broke out on April 12, 1861, when troops attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.  Two days later, President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers, and a mass meeting was held in Galena to encourage recruitment. Recognized as a military professional for his prior service, an unassuming ex-captain of the Army, who also clerked for Rawlins’ brother in his leather store, was asked to lead the ensuing effort.  That man was named Ulysses S. Grant.  Grant would soon

Rawlins became Grant’s aide-de-camp and his principal staff officer throughout the Civil War.  Rawlins also became Grant’s most trusted advisor and , according to Grant, nearly indispensable.  But perhaps Rawlins’ greatest contribution was being instrumental in keeping Grant, who was known to be a heavy drinker, from excessive imbibing throughout the war.  Within eight years Grant would become President of the United States, and appoint Rawlins his Secretary of War.

However, Rawlins’ health declined after taking office.  and he would serve as Secretary of War for only five months.  Rawlins was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a disease that claimed the life of his first wife, Emily Smith, nearly eight years earlier.  He died in D.C. at the age of 38 on September 6, 1869.  He was survived by his second wife, Mary Hurlburt, and two of his three children.  He was originally buried in a friend’s vault in Congressional Cemetery, but was subsequently moved to Arlington National Cemetery.

Note: If you stop by Rawlins Park soon, you will have the added benefit of seeing the statue of General John A. Rawlins flanked by a grove of some of the most beautiful magnolia trees in our nation’s capital.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]


The American Meridian Memorial

As I was riding around the campus of George Washington University on this lunchtime bike ride, I happened upon a marker that I hadn’t seen before. As I would come to find out, it is The American Meridian Memorial.  Located on a small bluff near the corner of 24th and H Streets (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Foggy Bottom Neighborhood, it was once considered by some to be the center of the world, establishing a geographical line that separated the Eastern and Western hemispheres. 

Prior to 1850, different countries measured longitude from different meridians. Because there was no agreement for a prime meridian, the way there is with latitude and the Equator, prime meridians and associated maps were identified in Greenwich, Paris, Rome, and various other European centers. American navigators tended to use either the French meridian at Paris or the British meridian at Greenwich.

Beginning in 1850, the United States established and began to measure distance from the American Meridian. The Federal government officially used this line, which ran along 24th Street, to measure distances on land, survey the West, coordinate the nation’s clocks, and record the start of new days.

However, few navigators at that time adopted the American Meridian, as they owned charts that gave distances relative to Paris or London, rather than 24th Street in D.C.  In fact, the United States continued to utilize the Greenwich Meridian for longitude at sea. But land surveyors welcomed the ability to measure from the new American Meridian rather that a line that lay across a broad ocean.  So as teams of American surveyors and mapmakers ventured steadily westward, those square boundaries of the Western states were all measured in appealing round numbers from the American Meridian.

Oregon would be the first to use the American Meridian in 1859 when it became a state. The southeastern border of the new state would be exactly 42 degrees West of the American Meridian. Colorado Territory in 1861 would be next to use the Meridian, establishing it’s eastern (27°W, Am) and western (34°W, Am) borders with the newly established meridian. The eastern border of Wyoming is exactly 27 degrees west of 24th Street, Arizona is 32 degrees west, and the Utah-Nevada border is 36 degrees west

The United States, via an act of Congress, officially abandoned the American Meridian in 1912, when it accepted the meridian at Greenwich as the international standard. Thus, the American Meridian was relegated to history. Today, the meridian marker is one of three reminders in D.C. of the evolution of cartography in this country. Meridian Hill Park was named for a stone obelisk that was erected there along the original prime meridian in 1804.  The stone marker there is long gone, but the park named after it remains.  And the third remnant of the pre-Greenwich Meridian age is The Zero Milestone, which is located on The Ellipse directly south of The White House.  With the advancement of technology, one day the Greenwich Meridian may be a thing of the past as well.

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Statue of the Prophet Daniel

There are a number of different public works of art on the grounds of the Headquarters of the Organization of American States, located at 200 17th Street (MAP) in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of northwest D.C.  And on this lunchtime bike ride I went there to see a statue entitled The Prophet Daniel, which is located north of the building and behind some trees near the corner of 17th Street and C Street.

The eight-foot statue depicts the prophet Daniel, one of four Major Prophets in Hebrew Scripture, along with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Daniel was the hero and traditional author of the book which bears his name, and nearly all that is known about him is derived from the book ascribed to him, making the book more than a treasure of prophetic literature but also one that paints a picture of Daniel as a man of God.

Daniel was  born around the 6th century B.C.  Although there is not much known about the early years of Daniel’s life, it is thought that he came from an upper class family, perhaps even from a royal family. His lifetime spans the whole of Jewish captivity in Babylon, where as a teenager Daniel was taken, along with other hostages, on the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel and the other hostages were taken into the Babylonian court and the account given in the book of Daniel begins to unfold.

The statue of Daniel was a gift from the Brazilian government in 1962.  The statue is made of concrete, and shows significant signs of weathering and age, with many of its details faded and cracked. It is a replica of a soapstone statue sculpted in 1804 by a prominent Brazilian sculptor named Antônio Francisco Lisboa, also known as Aleijadinho, which translates as “The Little Cripple.”

Aleijadinho was born in 1738, and for the first half of his exceptionally long life was perfectly healthy, and considered a man-about-town and a womanizer, despite his religious upbringing and beliefs. As a talented artist, he was much in demand and set up a workshop with apprentices while still a young man. But in the late 1770s, Aleijadinho’s entire life changed. He began to suffer from a progressively debilitating disease, thought to have been either leprosy, scleroderma or syphilis.

As the progressively severe effects of his disease took its toll, Aleijadinho became a recluse and would only venture out in the dark. His physical condition became so bad that he lost his fingers, toes and the use of his lower legs. It is said that at times the pain would get so unbareable that his apprentices had to stop him hacking away at the offending part of his body with a chisel.

In spite of his physical disabilities he also became increasingly obsessed with his work. In fact, working with hammer and chisel strapped to his wrists by his apprentices, who moved him about on a wooden trolley, he actually increased his productivity.  And it was under these conditions that he sculpted what is widely considered to be his masterpiece, the 12 massive figures of the prophets and the 64 life-size Passion figures for the Basílica do Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinhos. The Twelve Prophets are arranged around the courtyard and stairway in front of the church.  The statue here in D.C. is a replica of the figure Daniel from that series.

Unfortunately, the series of figures was his swansong, as failing eyesight finally forced him to stop working. Aleijadinho died in 1814 at the age of 76, impoverished, forgotten and a recluse. He is buried in a simple grave in the church he attended all his life, Nossa Senhora da Conceição, in Ouro Preto, the Brazilian town where he was born and spent his entire life. 

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

The Story of Daniel in the Lions Den

What is perhaps the best known story about Daniel is that of him in the den of lions, which took place near the end of his life when he was in his 80’s. Through a long life of hard work and obedience to God, Daniel had risen through the political ranks as a one of the administrators of a pagan kingdom.  In fact, Daniel was so honest and hardworking that the other government officials were jealous of him and wanted to remove him from office.  So they tried to use Daniel’s faith in God against him. They tricked the king into passing a decree that during a 30-day period, anyone who prayed to another god or man besides the king would be thrown into the lions’ den.  Daniel learned of the decree but continued to pray and worship God.  So the other government officials turned him in, and at sundown they threw Daniel into the den of lions.

At dawn the king found Daniel still alive and asked him if God had protected him.  Daniel replied, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” (Daniel 6:22, NIV).  The king then had the men arrested who falsely accused Daniel, and along with their wives and children, they were all thrown into the lions’ den, where they were immediately killed by the beasts.   Then the king issued another decree, ordering the people to fear and show reverence to the God of Daniel.


Amerigo Vespucci Statue

With the holiday weekend celebrating America’s birthday now over, I decided on this lunchtime bike ride to visit a statue of our country’s namesake.  So during this ride I visited the grounds of the Pan American Union Building, which serves as The Headquarters for the Organization of American States, located on 17th Street between C Street and Constitution Avenue (MAP) in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of northwest D.C.  One of the sculptures there is of an early Italian explorer named Amerigo Vespucci, who is the namesake of the continents of North and South America, and subsequently the United States of America.

The stone sculpture depicts a bust of Amerigo wearing a sea-farer hat of his era, and stands on a circular stone pedestal base with a relief of the globe inscribed on it. The base also contains an inscription which reads, “Amerigo Vespucci, 1454 – 1512.”

Amerigo Vespucci was born on March 9, 1454, in Ognissanti, Florence, Italy, the third son of Ser Nastagio Anastasio and Lisabetta Mini, members of a prominent Florentine family comprised of statesmen, philosophers, and clergy, which intermarried with the renowned Medici family who ruled Italy for more than 300 years. After being educated by his uncle, Amerigo worked for the Medicis as a banker, and later as a supervisor of their ship-outfitting business in Seville, Spain, where he moved in 1492. Amerigo’s position allowed him to see great explorers’ ships being prepared before they sailed off in search of new discoveries. In fact, Amerigo’s business helped outfit one of Christopher Columbus’ voyages, giving him the opportunity to talk with the explorer with whom he would one day be compared.

Fascinated with books and maps since he was young, his meeting with Columbus further fueled a fire burning inside him for travel and exploration. The fact that his business was struggling helped Amerigo, already in his forties, decide to leave the business behind and set out on his own voyage to see the “New World” while he still could.

Although historians are unsure of exactly how many voyages he embarked on, through his travels Amerigo was the first to be able to demonstrate that South America and the West Indies did not represent Asia’s eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus’ voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate and previously unknown landmass. Based on the work of a German clergyman and amateur cartographer named Martin Waldseemüller, he labeled a portion of what is today Brazil as “America”, deriving its name from Americus, the Latin version of his name. Later, in 1538, a mapmaker named Gerardus Mercator applied the name “America” to all of the northern and southern landmasses of the New World.  The continents have been known as such ever since.

So here in the District of Columbia, a name which references Christopher Columbus and was chosen at a time when many people were still upset that we hadn’t actually named our new nation Columbia, I visited the statue of Amerigo Vespucci.  And although he never visited here on any of his voyages, Amerigo’s name is forever associated with our 239-year old country.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]


An Inuksuk

As I was riding my bike down Constitution Avenue on this lunchtime ride, I saw what looked like an unusual pile of rocks on the grounds of the Organization of American States, which is located at 200 17th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.  As I stopped to explore it further, I realized that it was, in fact, a pile of rocks. However, it was not just a random pile of rocks. It was actually an inuksuk.

An inuksuk (also spelled inukshuk, plural inuksuit) is a man-made stone landmark or cairn, which can vary in shape, size and complexity. Historically, the most common type of inuksuk is a single stone positioned in an upright manner, although the appearance of some inuksuit suggest that their construction was likely the effort of many, if not an entire community. The inuksuit have their ancient roots in the Inuit culture, but they are also used by the Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. This region, above the Arctic Circle, is dominated by the tundra biome and, therefore, has few natural landmarks.

The word inuksuk means “something which acts for or performs the function of a person.” The word comes from Inuk, meaning “person,” and suk, meaning “substitute.” Inuksuit are used for a variety of purposes, including a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, holy grounds, or to mark a food cache. There are even examples of Inupiat in northern Alaska using inuksuit as drift fences to assist in the herding of caribou into contained areas for slaughter.

The inuksuk I saw on this ride serves as public art, and an Inuit cultural symbol. It was a gift from Canada to the Organization of American States to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the country’s admission to the Organization. The inuksuk was built in April 2010 by Peter Taqtu Irniq, an Inuk artist and Canadian politician.

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Full Count

With the unusual amount of snow and ice and the bitter cold temperatures we have had to endure here in the D.C. area this winter, it sometimes feels as though summer will never arrive. But it is, indeed, coming. And one sure sign of summer’s impending arrival is baseball season’s opening day. So take heart, because one month from tomorrow is the official start of the 2015 season.

To celebrate this fact I chose to ride to the Federal Reserve Annex on this lunchtime bike ride. Now that may seem like an odd choice, but I chose it because of an art installation entitled “Full Count,” which may be found on the north lawn of the grounds of the annex, located near the intersection of Virginia Avenue and 20th Street (MAP) in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of northwest D.C.

Full Count is a collection of four life-size bronze figures depicting a baseball pitcher, a catcher, a batter and a home plate umpire. Created by American sculptor John Dreyfuss, the statues are arranged to capture the pinnacle moment of America’s official pastime – a moment when anything is possible. As the pitcher contemplates what pitch he will throw to home plate, 60 feet and 6 inches away, the batter stands tall as he prepares to take his stance to await the pitch and a chance to take a swing. The catcher and umpire lean in close. It’s not just the batter’s turn at the plate that is at stake. The entire game can hinge on this moment. It’s a full count, and the next pitch could be the most important of the game. Will the batter foul it off and prolong the drama? Or maybe it will be a strike, and the batter’s team will go down in defeat. Perhaps it will be every little leaguers dream – a walk-off homerun. It is all up to your imagination in the moments that you experience “Full Count.”

But for now it’s back to reality, as the snow on the ground near the statues attests. It is still just over a month until opening day at Nationals Park and other ballparks around the country.  And the players are still far away, at spring training in warm locations like Florida or Arizona.  So for now, we just have to remember that like baseball and the boys of summer, the warm weather will be here soon enough.

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Statue of Aleksandr Pushkin

While on a bike ride on the campus of George Washington University I came across a statue of the Russian poet and author, Aleksandr Pushkin. This made me wonder whether or not there are any statues of American literary figures in Russia. Later, when I was trying to find out information about the statue from my ride, I got the answer to my question. The statue of Aleksandr Pushkin was a gift from the government of Moscow to the city of D.C. as part of a cultural exchange between the two cities. In return, a statue of American poet Walt Whitman was erected in Moscow.

Located at the corner of 22nd Street and H Street (MAP), in northwest D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, ground was broken for the statue on June 6, 1999, the 200th anniversary of Pushkin’s birth. The statue was completed over the forthcoming year, and dedicated on September 20, 2000. It depicts the author in front of a column on which stands the winged horse Pegasus, symbolically representing poetry and creative inspiration. The Pushkin statue is thought to be the first monument in the United States which commemorates a Russian literary figure.

Aleksander Sergeyevich Pushkin was born into Russian nobility on June 6, 1799, in Moscow. He published his first poem at the age of fifteen. And by the time he finished school as part of the first graduating class of the prestigious Imperial Lyceum near Saint Petersburg, his talent was already widely recognized within Russian literary circles. After completing school, Pushkin became committed to social reform and emerged as a spokesman for literary radicals. This angered the government, and led to his transfer from the capital.

After five years in exile, he was granted permission to personally petition Tsar Nicholas I for his release, which was granted. However, some of his writings were subsequently found in the possession of radicals after the Decembrist Uprising in Saint Petersburg, and Pushkin quickly found himself under the strict control of government censors, and was again unable to travel or publish at will.  But it was during this time that Pushkin wrote some of his now most famous works.

Pushkin eventually was able to regain favor with the Tsarist government. However, many including Pushkin speculated that it was because of his marriage to the young Nataliya Nikolaevna Goncharova, who he had met when he was almost 30 and she was only 16 years old.  Natalya had many admirers, among them the Tsar himself.  Natalya accepted Pushkin’s marriage proposal only after she received assurances that the government had no intentions to persecute the poet.  And later, when the Tsar gave Pushkin a court title, the poet became enraged, feeling that the Tsar intended to humiliate him by giving him the lowest court title solely so that his wife could properly attend court balls and events.

By 1837, Pushkin was faced with scandalous rumors that his wife had embarked on a love affair.  In response, the poet challenged Natalya’s alleged lover, her brother in-law Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthès, to a duel. Notoriously touchy about his honor, Pushkin fought as many as twenty-nine duels during his lifetime. The one with d’Anthès would be his last.  Although the other man was injured, Pushkin was shot through the spleen and died two days later, on February 10, 1837.

Although he was only 37 years old at the time of his death, Pushkin was somewhat prolific in his writing, particularly in comparison to more recent writers. He wrote narrative poems, verse novels, dramas, prose, and fairy tales in verse. And his writing is so complex that works which originally comprised only about a hundred pages would require two full volumes of material to translate and fully render its meaning in English.  Because of this difficulty in translation, Pushkin’s verse remains largely unknown to English readers. However, in his native Russia he is considered by many to be their greatest poet and the founder of modern Russian literature.

I doubt I will ever ride to Moscow State University in Russia to see the statue of Walt Whitman, which was unveiled by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in October of 1999. Perhaps I will be able to read more about it someday from a Russian blogger.  But there are places here in D.C. associated with Walt Whitman, who was a resident of the city for ten years.  I plan to ride to some of those places in the future.