Posts Tagged ‘Penn Quarter’

Today’s 24th Annual Blue Mass and Procession

During today’s bike ride I rode to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church to attend the 24th annual Blue Mass, which is an annual mass celebrated as an opportunity for the community to show gratitude to first responders and their families.  Celebrated each year by the Catholic Church, the Blue Mass is similar to the Red Mass, a service held to honor law enforcement officers and others in the public safety field who died in the line of duty during the past year, and to pray for the safety in the coming year of those still serving.  Here in D.C., the service is usually held shortly before the beginning of National Police Week

Located at 619 10th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood, St. Patrick’s is the oldest parish in the national capitol city.  It was founded in 1794 to minister to the needs of the stonemasons building the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building, and continues to serve the needs of downtown D.C. through daily Mass and confession, as well as adult education and cultural activities.

Before the beginning of the Mass, hundreds of law enforcement officers and public safety officials gather outside for the solemn processional into the church. Units from a variety of Federal, state, and local jurisdictions from the D.C. Metropolitan Area and around the country gather in official formation to pass under a huge American flag proudly hung over the street by two fire ladder trucks. Also gathered outside are officers on horseback, as well as bagpipe and drum corps units.

Inside the church, the principal celebrant and homilist again this year was His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. The Blue Mass included A Police Officers’ Prayer to Saint Michael, who as the Archangel of battle and defender of Heaven, is said to be the Patron Saint of policemen.

The police officers’ prayer to St. Michael is as follows:  “Dear Saint Michael, Your name means, “Who is Like a God”, and it indicates that You remained faithful when others rebelled against God. Help the police officers of our day who strive to stem the rebellion and evil that are rampant on all sides. Keep them faithful to their God as well as to their country and their fellow human beings.  Amen.”  The Mass also included the solemn playing of “Taps” in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the past year.

Today’s Blue Mass was a powerful reminder of that working in the public safety field is not only extremely difficult and dangerous, but also involves a willingness to sacrifice for others, even if they don’t appreciate it.

 

The Procession Leading Into the Church for Mass

 

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

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An Historic Elevator

On today’s lunchtime bike ride I stopped to pick up a submarine sandwich at a place called Potbelly Sandwich Works, which is a restaurant chain that began in 1977 in Illinois, but opened locations throughout the D.C. area only a few years ago.  The location I went to today is located in the Litwin Building at 637 Indiana Avenue (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood.  However, the chain is now worldwide. In addition to the United States, they also operate restaurant locations in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Canada and India.

As I waited for my sandwich to be made I took notice of a very old elevator.  It is not currently in use, but can be seen located behind a sheet of hazy plexiglass.  Later I checked into the old elevator, and I found out that at one time, locals claimed that it was installed by the Otis Elevator Company in 1853.  If true, that would have meant that the elevator not only pre-dated the Civil War, but would have made it one of the oldest elevators in the world.

The Litwin Building was so named after the family of Fred Litwin, who ran a furniture and antiques shop in the building for 52 years before retiring in 2003 due to health reasons.  In fact, I remember visiting his store a number of time earlier in my career and talking with him.  And because Mr. Litwin was enamored with the old elevator, and ran one of the most social business in the city where he would often talk with customers at length about a variety of topics, including about the elevator, information about it made its way into local newspapers.

The 19th-century elevator that was hand-operated with two heavy ropes. Its safety device, a carriage spring that latched into bars in the elevator shaft if either of the ropes gave way, made it unique. Elisha Graves Otis invented the device in the early 1850’s and patented it.   This is why locals thought the elevator was made by Otis.  But after extensive research by the an archivist for the Otis Elevator Company, it was determined that the elevator is actually a Bates elevator, most likely dating to the 1870’s or 1880’s.  So even though it’s not one of the oldest elevators in the world, it just might be the oldest operating elevator in this country.

Mr. Litwin tried to sell the elevator at the time he retired.  In an article in The Washington Post he is quoted as saying, “It’s awful when you have a love affair with a machine and find that nobody wants it … We’ve called a lot of people involved with elevators to try to make a home for this.”  But despite being unable to, the elevator has survived.  The building was awarded National Historic status, so when The Potbelly Corporation bought the property, the restaurant was told they could not remove the historic elevator.

As I often say, there’s always something to see in D.C.  And from just looking around while I was standing in line waiting for their signature sandwich named “The Wreck” (salami, Angus roast beef, oven roasted turkey, hickory smoked ham with melted Swiss cheese topped with fresh lettuce, tomato and mayo on a multigrain roll), I was able to see, and later learn about, a small but unique part of this city’s history.

The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly

In this country we do not have a king or royalty.  Instead, we have an elected president. And unlike a king, our president does not have a throne.  But if our president did have a throne, today I saw the one upon which our current president would probably sit.  The throne looks like something that might have come directly out of President Trump’s private home or office.  However, it is instead located in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which is located at 8th and F Streets (MAP), in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of northwest D.C.

The throne is named “The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly”, and it is a piece of folk art created by an African-American janitor and outsider or naïve artist named James Hampton.

Hampton was born in Elloree, South Carolina, in 1909.  In 1928, he moved to D.C. and shared an apartment with his older brother, Lee.  Hampton subsequently worked as a short order cook, served in the Air Force where he worked as a carpenter, and eventually became a night janitor with the General Services Administration.

Hampton never worked as an artist, or even had any formal training in art techniques, art history, or art theory.  But shortly after his brother’s death he began spending his time during his off-hours in a rented garage secretly creating a large assemblage of religious art, including the throne, as a monument to God.  However, he was a man of extremely modest means.  So he created his art, and built the throne, out of various old and recycled materials like aluminum and gold foil, old furniture, pieces of cardboard, old light bulbs, shards of mirror, jelly jars, coffee cans, and old desk blotters, which he bound together using tacks, pins, tape and glue.

It is unknown if Hampton, who also referred to himself as Saint James, Director of Special Projects for the State of Eternity, ever thought of himself as an artist.  He created the Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly in complete obscurity.  In fact, it was only upon his death in 1964, when the owner of the garage which he rented sought to rent the space out again, that Hampton’s work was discovered.  As best can be determined by art historians, Saint James dedicated his off-work hours from about 1950 until his death fourteen years later to assembling The Throne.

The Throne eventually landed in the possession of the Smithsonian and, thankfully, became part of our national folk art heritage instead of our modern political tradition and culture.

         

         

         

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

Note:  These photographs do not begin do The Throne justice.  In person it is absolutely massive sitting in it’s dark purple alcove.  And the play of light off the foil and mirrors not only makes it shine, but it seems to actually glow.  I highly recommend seeing it in person to experience its full effect.

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The Annual Blue Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

On this bike ride I rode to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, which is located at 619 10th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood. The oldest parish in the national capitol city, St. Patrick’s Church was founded in 1794 to minister to the needs of the stonemasons building the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building. The parish continues to serve the needs of downtown D.C. through daily Mass and confession, as well as adult education and cultural activities. It was for one of these activities, the Annual Blue Mass, that I chose today to ride to St. Patrick’s Church.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week. And each year prior to the beginning of National Police Week, St. Patrick’s Church holds The Blue Mass to pray for those in law enforcement and fire safety, to remember those who have fallen, and to show support for those who continue to serve.

Before the beginning of the Mass, hundreds of law enforcement officers and public safety officials gather outside for the solemn processional into the church. Units from a variety of Federal, state, and local jurisidictions from the D.C. Metropolitan Area and around the country gather in official formation to pass under a huge American flag proudly hung over the street by two fire ladder trucks. Also gathered outside are officers on horseback, as well as pipe and drum corps units.

Inside the church, the principal celebrant and homilist for this year’s Mass was His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. The Blue Mass included Police Officers’ Prayer to Saint Michael, who as the Archangel of battle and defender of Heaven, is said to be the Patron Saint of policemen, and the Firefighters’ Prayer to Saint Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, as well as chimney sweeps, soapmakers, and the city of Linz, Austria. The Mass also included an honor guard, bagpipers, and the solemn playing of “Taps” in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the past year.

Being a police officer or first responder is not only an extremely difficult and dangerous job, but also involves a willingness to sacrifice for others, even if they don’t appreciate it.   Today’s Blue Mass was a powerful reminder of that.

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[Click on photos above to view full size versions]

Police Officers’ Prayer to St. Michael, the Archangel

Dear Saint Michael, Your name means, “Who is Like a God”, and it indicates that You remained faithful when others rebelled against God. Help the police officers of our day who strive to stem the rebellion and evil that are rampant on all sides. Keep them faithful to their God as well as to their country and their fellow human beings. Amen.

Firefighters’ Prayer to Saint Florian

Dear God, through the intercession of our patron, Saint Florian, have mercy on the souls of our comrades who have made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty, and on all who have gone before us after years of faithful discharge of their responsibilities which now rest on ourselves. Give us Grace to prepare each day for our own summons to Your tribunal of justice. Into Your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit. Whenever You call me, I am ready to go. Merciful Father of all men and women, save me from all bodily harm, if it be Your will, but above all, help me to be loyal and true, respectful and honorable, obedient and valiant. Thus fortified by virtue, I shall have no fear, for I shall then belong to You and shall never be separated from You. Amen.

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The Capitol City Brewing Company

The Capitol City Brewing Company (CCBC) opened its doors in 1992, and that’s about how long I’ve been going there. And I haven’t had a bad experience yet. So for this bike ride, as well as my traditional end-of-the-month restaurant review for April, I decided to ride there and have lunch. I patronized the original location, at 1100 New York Avenue (MAP), near the corner of 11th and H Streets in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood. But the CCBC has become so popular that it has expanded to a second location across the river in Virginia, which is just off of the pedestrian promenade of the village in the Shirlington area of Arlington.

When it started just 23 years ago, CCBC became the first brewery in our nation’s capitol since prohibition ended in 1933. The current brew master is Kristi Matthews Griner, who is one of only a few female brew masters in the area. She is also a member of The Pink Boots Society, an 800-member-strong organization of women beer professionals. After completed the Draft Master Program at the Siebel Institute of Technology, Kristi got her experience at Hops Grill and Brewery in Alexandria, and Vintage 50 in Leesburg before moving to CCBC.

Kristi currently oversees the brewing of a number of great ales, lagers and pilsners, and ensures that CCBC always has at least seven or eight brews on tap. The four award-winning signature brews consist of a classic German-style blonde ale named Capitol Kolsch; an American-style Amber ale with a lovely red hue and citrusy aroma named Amber Waves; an American pale ale named Pale Rider, and; Prohibition Porter Traditional, an English style ruby-brown ale with a pronounced chocolate malt character. In addition to the signature brews, there are also a variety of seasonal choices which bring English, Belgian, and German style brews to the line-up. I’ve enjoyed a number of their different brews over the years but, of course, since my employee has a strict policy about alcohol consumption while on duty, never on a day like today when I was returning to work.

Luckily for me, the food at CCBC makes it a worthwhile destination with or without an accompanying libation. Starting right off the bat are their free hot pretzels with horseradish mustard. I must confess that I am a sucker for a hot pretzel, and it’s a perfect appetizer to start out a meal at CCBC. And yes, you read that correctly. They’re free. So you can’t beat the price. There are other appetizers available as well, including many of the pub standards such as wings, nachos, and beer-battered onion rings. I recommend the BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp. But if you can’t make up your mind, they have a sampler platter too. Other appetizers aren’t really necessary though, because the hot pretzels are not to be missed.

Many of the entrees on their fairly expansive menu were developed specifically with their beer in mind, and some actually utilize their brews in the preparation of the dishes. Menu offerings include everything from sandwiches and burgers to pizza and more formal entrees, with a focus on regional cuisine using fresh ingredients cultivated in the Mid-Atlantic area and delivered daily.

With so many good pizza places in the city, I have to confess that I’ve never tried their pizza. And I’m not much of a salad guy, and haven’t gone with the salad option their either. Since I most frequently go at lunchtime, I don’t usually go for the full-on meal from the entrée selection. However, I have tried the Prohibition Porter Bratwurst, which is excellent. I usually have a sandwich or a burger. The Hickory Burger is one of my favorites because it’s very flavorful, with just the right tang from the chipotle barbeque sauce. But the Steakhouse Burger with the porter-infused A1 sauce is excellent as well, as is the simple Brew Master Burger. If you are looking for something lighter, I recommend the Grilled Fish Tacos or the Grilled Chicken Wrap. And for vegetarians, or anyone else, they also have a Black Bean Burger which I’ve heard is excellent.

My usual, go-to meal at CCBC, however, is the Amber Chicken Sandwich.  First, they take a bonelss chicken breast and marinate it in their fresh-brewed Amber Waves Ale.  Then they grill it just long enough to cook it through but not too long so it looses it juiciness.  Then they top it with melted Swiss cheese, thick-cut bacon, lettuce, tomato and red onion, and serve it on a fresh-baked brioche bun.  It’s the sandwich I had the first time I went to CCBC and it got me going back.  And it’s the sandwich I had today.

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The Stephenson Grand Army of the Republic Memorial

The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial

Many of the statues and memorials in D.C. seem as though they are permanent.  But this is often not the case, with many of them being moved around, placed in storage, or changed as necessary to accommodate new construction or development.  This is the case for The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial, which was the destination of this lunchtime bike ride.

The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial is presently located across the street from The National Archives and Records Administration Building and adjacent to the U.S. Navy Memorial in Indiana Plaza, at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood.  The memorial was moved in 1987 from it’s original location, which was just a few yards away where The Temperance Fountain is now located.  The fountain was moved from its original location a few blocks away during the renewal of Pennsylvania Avenue by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation.

Shortly after the conclusion of the American Civil War, groups of men began joining together in fraternal organizations. These organizations were first formed for camaraderie, but eventually evolved into groups which possessed and wielded significant political influence.  Emerging most powerful among the various organizations would be The Grand Army of the Republic.

Founded in Decatur, Illinois on April 6, 1866 by Dr. Benjamin F. Stephenson, membership in the Grand Army of the Republic was limited to honorably discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps or the Revenue Cutter Service, who had served between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865. The organization became among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, lobbying the U.S. Congress to establish veterans’ pensions, advocating for voting rights for black veterans, and supporting Republican political candidates.  As one of the more powerful political organizations in the late 19th century, it also helped to establish The Old Soldiers’ Home, which would later become The Department of Veterans Affairs.  Also, under the leadership of John Alexander Logan, the organization was largely responsible for establishing the Memorial Day holiday at the end of May, as part of their Decoration Day campaign.

At it’s height in 1890, it would number almost 500,000 veterans of the “War of the Rebellion,” with chapters or “posts” in every state except Hawaii, even those of the former Confederacy.  But the organization continued to allow only Union veterans of the Civil War, and through attrition it grew smaller each year.  It was finally dissolved in 1956 when its last surviving member, Albert Henry Woolson, passed away.

Memorials to the Grand Army of the Republic include a commemorative postage stamp, a U.S. Federal highway, and various statues and physical memorials in hundreds of communities throughout the country. The D.C. memorial was erected by the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Foundation using funds that the U.S. Congress appropriated in 1907, and was dedicated in 1909.

The memorial’s pink granite centerpiece was designed by the firm of Rankin, Kellogg and Crane, and P.R. Pullman and Company, was responsible for the foundation of the monument, which had to be specially made due to the significant weight of the granite column. Scottish-American sculptor J. Massey Rhind sculpted the bronze statue and inlays for the memorial.

Also known as The Dr. Benjamin F. Stephenson Memorial, it is part of a group of statues entitled “The Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.” which are spread out through much of the central and northwest areas of the city, and are listed as a group on the National Register of Historic Places.  With the dissolution of the organization, the memorial is now owned and maintained by the National Park Service.

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Calvary Baptist Church

Calvary Baptist Church

On this day in 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. It should be noted that the consumption of alcohol was never illegal under federal law. Prohibition focused on the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. However, exceptions were made for medicinal and religious uses. Nationwide prohibition did not begin until 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution went into effect.  Thirteen years later, what President Woodrow Wilson referred to as “America’s noble experiment” ended.

The movement for the interdiction of alcohol that eventually resulted in Prohibition actually started much earlier – in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late part of the century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for national liquor abstinence. The Anti-Saloon League was one of the most prominent of these organizations, and eventually spearheaded the lobbying for prohibition in this country.  Calvary Baptist Church, a bright red brick church located at 755 8th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood, is where the first Anti-Saloon League meeting was held. It was also one of my destinations on today’s lunchtime bike ride.

On this ride I also went by a couple of other D.C. locations with connections to Prohibition – The Woodrow Wilson House and D.C.’s Temperance Fountain – despite the fact that I have been to and written in this blog about these locations previously.

While most presidents at that time happily retired back to their home state, Wilson decided to stick around and continued to live in the national Capitol city after leaving office. His second wife, Edith, had lived in D.C. before they met and received a small fortune when her former husband, a prosperous local jeweler, passed away. Woodrow and Edith moved into their newly-acquired Embassy Row home at 2340 S Street (MAP) in 1921.  But it wasn’t an easy move. Prohibition was in effect at the time, and since it forbade the transportation of alcohol, it presented a problem for Wilson, who did not want to leave his fine wine collection behind in the White House for his successor, especially since the recently elected Warren G. Harding was known to be a heavy drinker.  Wilson appealed to Congress, and Congress passed a special law just for him that allowed one person on one specific day “to transport alcohol from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to 2340 S Street.”

My last destination for this prohibition-themed bike ride was the Temperance Fountain, located at the corner of Seventh Street and Indiana Avenue in downtown D.C. (MAP).  A temperance fountain was a fountain that was set up, usually by a private benefactor, to encourage people not to drink alcohol by providing safe and free water instead. During the earlier temperance movement, beer was the main alternative to water, and generally safer. The temperance societies had no real alternative as tea and coffee were too expensive, so water fountains were very attractive. One such fountain still exists in D.C. It was one of the ones built by Henry Cogswell, a dentist and a crusader in the temperance movement. It was his dream to construct one temperance fountain for every 100 saloons in the U.S. It is unknown exactly how many Cogswell actually built, but the fountain in D.C. is one of only four that still remain.

After the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933, some states continued Prohibition by maintaining statewide temperance laws. Mississippi, the last “dry” state, didn’t end Prohibition until 1966. To this day there continue to be areas within states where prohibition remains in effect, commonly referred to as “dry counties.” There are currently more than 500 counties and municipalities in the U.S. that are dry, including 83 in Alaska. Nearly one half of Mississippi’s counties are dry. And in Florida, four of its 67 counties are dry, all of which are located in the northern part of the state, an area that has cultural ties to the Deep South. And although Moore County, Tennessee, is the home of Jack Daniel’s, a major operational distillery of whiskey, it is also a dry county, so the product is not available at stores or restaurants within the county.

By comparison, D.C. is not dry, and it is very different place today than it was when the Anti-Saloon League was meeting at Calvary Baptist Church and people were drinking water from the Temperance Fountain.  There are currently over 1,900 establishments and businesses that possess liquor licenses to sell alcohol to the 646,449 residents in the 68-square-mile area known as the District of Columbia.  This works out to a bar or liquor store for every 340 residents of our nation’s capitol.

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Pershing Park

Pershing Park

On this bike ride I went to Pershing Park. Located at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP), the park is in the heart of downtown D.C., directly in front of the historic Willard Hotel and just a block or so sourtheast of the White House.  The small park serves as a memorial dedicated to and named after General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing.

Pershing is the only person to be promoted in his own lifetime to the highest rank ever held in the United States Army – General of the Armies – a capacity in which he served during World War I.  In fact, since the rank had never before been achieved, there was no prescribed insignia and Pershing had to design his own for his uniform.  Later, a retroactive Congressional edict passed in 1976 promoted George Washington to the same rank but with higher seniority. Pershing holds the disctinction of holding the first United States officer service number (O-1).  He was regarded as a mentor by the generation of American generals who led the United States Army in Europe during World War II, including George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley, and George S. Patton.

Pershing got the nickname “Black Jack” while serving as an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Because of his strictness and rigidity, Pershing was unpopular with the cadets, who took to calling him “Nigger Jack” because of his service with the 10th Cavalry Regiment, a now famous unit formed as a segregated African-American unit and one of the original “Buffalo Soldier” regiments. Over time, the epithet was softened to “Black Jack,” and although the intent remained hostile the nickname stuck with him for the rest of his life.

The site was occupied by a variety of 19th-century structures until circa 1930, when the federal government demolished the entire block. Legislation officially designating the plot as a Pershing Square subsequently was adopted by Congress later that year. How to develop the square proved controversial, however, as different groups offered competing proposals for memorials to Pershing.

In November 1963, the President’s Council on Pennsylvania Avenue proposed a master plan for the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the U.S. Capitol Building. The plan proposed constructing a National Plaza which would have required the demolition of the Pershing Square, the Willard Hotel north of the square, and the two blocks of buildings and street east of these tracts. During this time, all plans for Pershing Park were suspended until such time as the Pennsylvania Avenue master plan could be finalized.

In the end, National Plaza was never constructed. Instead, a much smaller Freedom Plaza was built which did not require the demolition of the area which would become Pershing Park.  The memorial statue was created by architect Wallace Harrison, and the design of the park was finalized in the 1970s by M. Paul Friedberg and Partners.  The multi-level park was constructed simultaneously with Freedom Plaza from 1979 to 1981, and was finally opened to the public on May 14, 1981.

Today, Pershing Park contains a statue of Black Jack Pershing, as well as a flower beds, amphitheatre-style seating oriented around the park’s plaza, a waterfall and fountain, and  a pond which turns into an ice skating rink during the winter.  The park also contains a small structure that houses a café, restrooms and changing area for skating.  Enjoyed year round by those who have discovered it, the park is still unknown by many, especially tourists.

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General Winfield Scott Hancock Memorial

General Winfield Scott Hancock Memorial

This bike ride took me to the General Winfield Scott Hancock Memorial, which is located at 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP) in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of northwest D.C. The equestrian statue was created by American sculptor Henry Jackson Ellicott together with architect Paul J. Pelz. It was commissioned on March 2, 1889, and dedicated on May 12, 1896, by President Grover Cleveland. The memorial is part of a group of statues 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.

Winfield Scott Hancock and his identical twin brother Hilary Baker Hancock were born on February 14, 1824. The twins were the sons of Benjamin Franklin Hancock and Elizabeth Hoxworth Hancock. Indications of Winfield’s future military career started early. He was named after Winfield Scott, a prominent general in the War of 1812. He also attended the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Winfield Scott Hancock was a career U.S. Army officer and was known to his Army colleagues as “Hancock the Superb”. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican-American War and as a Union general in the Civil War. He was noted in particular for his personal leadership at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was also wounded twice.

Hancock was the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. Although he ran a strong campaign, Hancock was narrowly defeated by Republican James A. Garfield. Of almost nine million votes cast, Hancock lost by only thirty-nine thousand votes. Hancock took his electoral defeat in stride, however, and actually attended Garfield’s inauguration.

Some other interesting facts about Hancock include that at the close of the Civil War, he was assigned to supervise the execution of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, including Mary Surratt. Also, he was elected president of the National Rifle Association in 1881. Hancock’s last major public appearance was to preside over the funeral of President Ulysesses S. Grant in 1885.  And Hancock’s portrait adorns U.S. currency on the $2 Silver Certificate series of 1886.  It was also in 1886, in a manner that seems incongruous with the successful life he had led, Hancock died, the victim of an infected carbuncle.
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The Albert Einstein Memorial

Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” In reference to the theory of relativity, Einstein also said, “I thought of that while riding my bicycle.” So to commemorate his undeniable wisdom, as well as today’s anniversary of his birth in 1879, I went to The Albert Einstein Memorial on this afternoon’s bike ride.

The Einstein Memorial is a monumental bronze statue depicting Albert Einstein seated with manuscript papers in hand.  The bronze figure weighs approximately 4 tons, and measures 21 feet from the top of its head to the tip of its feet. The monument is supported by three caissons, totaling 135 tons, sunk in bedrock to a depth of 23 to 25 feet. The statue and bench are at one side of a circular dais, 28 feet in diameter. And embedded in the dais are more than 2,700 metal studs representing astronomical objects, including the sun, moon, planets, 4 asteroids, 5 galaxies, 10 quasars, and many stars in their relative celestial position at the exact time that the memorial was dedicated.

The memorial is situated in an elm and holly grove in the southwest corner on the grounds of the National Academy of Sciences on Constitution Avenue in D.C. (MAP).  Einstein was elected a foreign associate of the Academy in 1922 and became a member in 1942, two years after he became a naturalized United States citizen.

By the way, Einstein is known for more than just his quotes about bicycles. He’s also known for his theories of special and general relativity, which drastically altered man’s view of the universe, and for his work in particle and energy theory which helped make possible quantum mechanics and, ultimately, the atomic bomb.

If you go to see the memorial for this genius, keep in mind that it’s said if you rub the nose of the Albert Einstein statue, you’ll acquire some of his smarts.  And judging by the appearance of his nose, a lot of people believe this and have rubbed it.

But today, March 14, is not just the birthday of the famous German-born theoretical physicist and mathematician.  It is also National Pi Day.  National Pi Day is actually a U.S. holiday. The House of Representatives passed House Resolution 224 in 2009, designating March 14 as National Pi Day.

Pi (pronounced “pie”) is the ratio used to compute the circumference, area, and volume of circles, and is a mathematical constant.  It is an irrational number, continuing infinitely without repeating. It is usually estimated to the hundredths place (3.14), but with the use of computers, pi has been calculated to over 2 trillion digits past the decimal.  So today’s date, when expressed in the decimal format as 3.14, is is the rounded-off numerical equivalent of the value of Pi.  Extended out by its next three additional digits of 1, 5 and 9, and you have “Pi minute” at 1:59pm.

So to celebrate today’s double holiday, I first stopped by a restaurant named District of Pi, located at 910 F Street in Penn Quarter (MAP), where I got my order to go.  I got a thin crust pizza pie with mozzarella, Italian meatballs, red peppers, and basil.  It was then that I rode over to the Einstein Memorial, where I enjoyed a pizza pie picnic lunch on National Pi Day while relaxing at the memorial at Pi Minute.

Despite how fun today’s Pi Day ride was, next year’s National Pi Day will be even more exciting.  On that day, we will all get one, shining moment in which we can write the date as: 3/14/15; 9:26:53. Which, as everyone knows, are the first ten digits of Pi in perfect order.

AlbertEinstein02     AlbertEinstein04     AlbertEinstein03

AlbertEinstein05     DistrictOfPi01     DistrictOfPi02