Posts Tagged ‘The Washington Post’

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Eastern Market

There used to be a city-wide system of public marketplaces in D.C. The system was part of Pierre L’Enfant’s original design plan for the city, which called for an Eastern, a Central and a Western Market. The markets were intended to supplement existing markets in Georgetown, and across the Potomac River in Alexandria, and provide a steady and orderly supply of goods to urban residents. One of those markets is still in operation today. Known as Eastern Market, it is located at 225 7th Street (MAP) in southeast D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and it was the destination for this lunchtime bike ride.

In 1805, President Thomas Jefferson issued a proclamation calling for Eastern Market to be set up at 7th and L Streets, near the Washington Navy Yard in southeast D.C. The original market received heavy damage during the British attack of 1814 known as the “Burning of Washington,” when many of the Federal government’s buildings, including the Department of the Treasury Building, the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building were burned. The market was repaired and remained active until a half a century later, when the Civil War caused a disruption in the availability and delivery of supplies. The market resumed normal operations after the war, but continued to struggle and fell into a state of disrepair. By 1871 Eastern Market was nearly abandoned, and was described in a local newspaper account as a “disgraceful shed.”

Eastern Market relocated in 1873 to its present location in a building designed by Adolf Cluss, a German-born American immigrant who became one of the most important architects in the national capitol city by designing dozens of local post-Civil War buildings, among them the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall, Calvary Baptist Church, and the Franklin and Sumner Schools. Enjoying a renewed success as Capitol’s Hill’s population increased in the early 20th century, the market needed to expand. So the city’s Office of Public Works, under architect Snowden Ashford, designed the new addition containing the Center and North Halls in 1908.  Eastern Market was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

In the years since, Eastern Market has had more than its share of difficulties, but it has continued to not only persevere, but thrive. In the early 1900’s, the market had to ward off D.C. Health Department, which had made numerous findings of deficiencies with its sanitation. But Eastern Market survived. In the 1920’s a chain supermarket opened right across the street from the market. It cut into its business, but the market survived. Then in the 1940’s, D.C. bureaucrats proposed transforming Eastern Market into a supermarket. And a decade later, a congressional bill envisioned turning a revamped market into a national children’s theater. Neither of these proposals was successful, and the market survived. In the 1950’s, the city license bureau criticized the market as uneconomical, and in 1960’s the D.C. health commissioner declared Eastern Market “a menace to public health.” But the criticisms of the market were no more successful in shutting down Eastern Market than the proposals to change it. Additional challenges could not bring an end to Eastern Market either, such as vendors having to work without leases when the city refused to renew expired leases, a proposal for a freeway to run through the site, and the urban economic downturn after riots in 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Eastern Market’s continued existence occurred in 2007, when the building was badly damaged by an early-morning 3-alarm fire. Part of the roof collapsed, and The Washington Post has described the South Hall as “gutted so badly that birds can now fly in through the front windows and out the back ones.” Following the fire the Mayor vowed to rebuild Eastern Market, and even provided a temporary market annex, known as the “East Hall,” across the street on the grounds of Hine Junior High School to be used during the rebuilding process. After two years of reconstruction work, Eastern Market reopened its doors in June of 2009, ending the only extended hiatus in the market’s 210 years of continuous operation.

The other city markets are now long gone. Center Market, where the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration Building is today, was razed in 1931. And Western Market, which was located at 21st and K streets in northwest D.C., was closed in 1961. But when the D.C. government closed the other public markets, Charles Glasgow, Sr., who operated two stalls at Eastern Market, suggested that he assume management responsibility for the market. The Eastern Market Corporation was formed and leased the South and Center Halls, now managed by Eastern Market Ventures. So Eastern Market remains open, and continues to host a thriving farmers’ market.

Everything from finest meats, poultry and seafood, to pasta, delicatessen, baked goods and cheeses from around the world are sold from indoor stalls during the week.  There is also a lunch counter where you can get a bite to eat while you shop.  And on the weekends, recently-harvested produce direct from farms in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are sold outside along the covered sidewalk.  Artisans and antiques dealers also sell their goods outside the market on weekends, while live music adds some entertainment, making Eastern Market a popular stop for locals as well as tourists.

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

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The National Fire Dog Memorial

On this bike ride I went by one of the few local monuments that are not dedicated to either a person or an event. On permanent display at the corner of 5th and F Streets just outside D.C. Fire Department Station #2, the National Fire Dog Monument is located at 500 5th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.

Also named “Ashes to Answers,” the National Fire Dog Monument is a life-size bronze sculpture depicting an arson dog, with his handler gazing down at his four-legged partner after a job well done. The monument, which was co-sponsored by the State Farm Insurance Company and the American Humane Association, honors the incredible and heroic work that certified accelerant-detection canine teams do to investigate suspicious fires in homes and businesses around the country. Unveiled in late 2013 after an eight-city cross country tour, the monument was sculpted by a Denver area artist named Austin Weishel, who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue in Colorado.

The main subject depicted in the monument was modeled after a black Labrador canine agent named Sadie, who in 2011 was named by the American Humane Association as the Hero Dog of the Year. Sadie retired in 2014, leaving only 81 certified arson canine teams at the present time in the United States and Canada. And the D.C. Fire Department is fortunate enough to have two of those teams. The State Farm Insurance Company sponsors the program that trains them.

In a city replete with monuments and memorials, the National Fire Dog Monument has quickly gained popularity, especially among local residents. In a “Monument Madness Contest” held by The Washington Post, 32 different statues and monuments competed against each other for the distinction of the most popular in D.C. There were four categories of competitors entitled: “Presidents and Founding Fathers”; “Arts and Sciences”; “War and Peace”, and; the grouping in which the National Fire Dog Monument was categorized, named “What the Heck is That?” In a come-from-behind, Cinderella-story victory, the monument took home the top prize in the tournament, receiving more votes than any of its more famous competitors, including The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, and The Iwo Jima Memorial, as well as more obscure but worthy contenders such as The Maine Lobsterman and The Titanic Memorial.

Despite its popularity, the sculpture is only half of the monument, which remains as yet unfinished.  The plan for the second half of the monument is comprised of a bronze fire hydrant with water coming out of it that goes to a dish, so that dogs walking by will have a place to get a drink and chill out.  Donations to help complete the National Fire Dog Monument, and to support heroic arson dogs like Sadie and her colleagues, can be made through the American Humane Association.

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

Martha's Table

Martha’s Table

Two years ago today The Washington Post published a very interesting and uplifting article about Patty Stonesifer, former Chief Executive Officer of The Gates Foundation, who had agreed to lead a local food pantry here in D.C. named Martha’s Table.  Patty, who had previously overseen The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s endowment of $39 billion and a staff of more than 500 for nearly a decade, chose to manage Martha’s Table’s comparably small $6 million budget, 81 paid employees, three vans and a thrift shop.

Martha’s Table is a well-regarded but decidedly local food pantry and family-services nonprofit organization. Beginning with humble roots in 1980, Martha’s Table was originally a place for children to receive free sandwiches and food after school. It gradually grew to address the additional needs of the community by finding solutions to poverty in the short and long term. They also address emergency needs with food and clothing programs and break the long cycle of poverty with education and family support services. The organization impacts over 1,100 people a day with its programs, including those for children and youths from ages 3 months to 22 years old, and their families.

Anyway, after reading the newpaper article, I decided to ride to Martha’s Table to check it out on this lunchtime bike ride.  Their main office and their thrift store are located at 2114 14th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Shaw / Uptown neighborhood.  It is not very far from my office, so after riding there I had a some extra time before I had to be back at my office and decided to wander around a little on my way back.  As I was riding several blocks away I saw a commotion cause by a large number of people in a small alley. I paused to watch from a distance and, when it appeared to be benign, I rode down the alley to see what was going on.

I could barely believe the coincidence when I found out that the commotion was the result of food distribution of the Emergency Food Program of Martha’s Table. As I later found out from their web site, the last Thursday of every month is Pantry Day at Martha’s Table, when they offer emergency food to anyone.  The grocery bag give-away is held between noon and 1:00 pm only, and I just happened to be riding by when it was taking palce. As I stopped to watch what was going on, I noticed one of the volunteers because she looked oddly familiar. After watching for a little while it struck me that I recognized her from The Washington Post article.  It was Patty Stonesifer.  She was there, working on the front lines with the employee’s and volunteers, and handing out groceries to those in need.

It was near their closing time as I was standing around in the alley watching the activity when Patty noticed me dressed in several layers of old sweatshirts and sweatpants to brace myself against the cold during my ride.  I probably looked hungry too, since it was lunchtime and I hadn’t eaten yet.  So she thought I was there for some food but was too apprehensive to ask.  She came over to me and offered me a bag of groceries.  I declined but thanked her, and then I was able to talk with her for a few minutes.  I told her about my bike rides and how I had gone by their building on today’s ride because I had read about her in the newspaper.

She’s a very interesting woman, who is now leading a very worthwhile organization.  In addition to her previous position as the former chief executive of the largest philanthropic institution in the world, Patty has an impressive résumé. She was a senior vice president at Microsoft responsible for developing MSNBC, Encarta and Slate magazine. Patty was also asked by President Obama to chair the White House Council for Community Solutions, was the chairman of the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents, and sits on the Board of Directors for Amazon.com.

So with what would have been a lot of corner-office options to sift through, including a university presidency and the top jobs at a national charity and an international development agency, why did she chose a shift in scale comparable to the coach of an NFL football team deciding to coach high school football instead? After moving to D.C., Patty began exploring the city by foot and Metro, much like I do by bike. During these explorations she was astounded by the level and extent of poverty and hunger, especially among children that she saw. So the answer is simple – she saw a need and decided to do something about it. I think that’s a lesson from which we can all learn.

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Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

I recently had a craving for a doughnut. But I was not looking for the kind of generic, mass-produced doughnut that you usually get in a supermarket, a convenience store, or even one of the national doughnut shop chains. I wanted a fresh specialty gourmet doughnut. The kind you can only get in a local bakery or restaurant. During its recent “Dozen Weeks of Doughnuts Contest,” The Washington Post named the Crème Brûlée doughnut, the signature treat at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, the best in the city.  Astro actually had two of the top three doughnuts in D.C., with its Peanut Butter and Jelly version coming in third place. So with two of the top three doughnuts in the city, Astro seemed like the place to go to satisfy my craving. It also seemed like a good choice for my traditional end-of-the-month restaurant review for the month of October.

Part of Metro Center in northwest D.C.’s Downtown neighborhood, Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken is conveniently located at 1308 G Street (MAP), across the street from the Church of the Epiphany, and just a little over a block away from the White House. Opened just last year by longtime friends and native Washingtonians Elliot Spaisman and Jeff Halpern, they were inspired to open the shop by their longstanding tradition of enjoying a doughnut after playing hockey together.

Halpern went on to become a professional hockey player, and was the first native Washingtonian to play for the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League (NHL). Currently an unrestricted free agent, Halpern has also played in the NHL for the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and most recently, the Phoenix Coyotes. However, despite a successful career in sports, he may be better known in the long run for doughnuts if the ones I’ve tried are an indicator.

The creative force behind the doughnuts at Astro is Chef Jason Gehring, who has cooked in kitchens ranging from D.C.’s own Fiola and Poste to Baltimore’s Charleston and New York City’s famous Payard Bakery. Utilizing seasonal fruit and produce from local farmers, and high-end ingredients, the standard flavors each day include the Crème Brûlée and PB&J, along with Maple Bacon and Vanilla Bean Glaze. There are also various flavors that rotate onto the menu, depending on the season and availability of fresh ingredients. They include Piña Colada, Carrot Cake, Pink Grapefruit, Creamsicle, Banana Nut, Applesauce, Coconut Cake, Passionfruit Berry, Salted Caramel, Pistachio, Pumpkin Latte, and one called Brooklyn Blackout, which is devil’s food cake with chocolate glaze and cookie crumbs.

My favorite by far, however, is the one I had on this bike ride, the Key Lime Pie doughnut. It was actually the best doughnut I’ve ever eaten. Dense and moist, it was deliciously tart, with a strip of candied lime to top it off. The taste was spot on to the legendary dessert, making it easy to imagine being transported to southern Florida and having breakfast with the Key West locals, or as they’re called there, “conchs.”

And the chicken at Astro is almost as good as the doughnuts, which is saying a lot. The classic fried chicken is tender, succulent and flavorful, with just the right amount of crunchiness and seasoning.  They also offer a variety of flavors and different kinds of chicken, from the Sriracha or spicy garlic chicken wings, to the Old Bay or Buffalo chicken sandwiches, they are all good enough to cause making a decision to be difficult.

Like several other restaurants I have reviewed here on this blog in the past, Astro has no seating and are a business only. And if I had to come up with a criticism of Astro, it would be that different doughnuts and kinds of chicken are only available on certain days.  Also, there is a potential for them to run out of certain menu items, particularly the most popular choices. But these are first-world problems which are easily remedied if you follow my advice, which is, “Definitely go there, know what you want, and the earlier you get there the better.”

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

William O. Douglas Statue

William O. Douglas Statue

Nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, William Orville Douglas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the age of 40, becoming one of the youngest justices appointed to the court. His subsequent tenure on the court lasted over 36 years, making his the longest term in the history of the Supreme Court. Douglas also holds a number of other records, including for the most decisions, for making more speeches than any other Justice, and for sidebar productivity.  Douglas also holds the record among Justices for having had the most wives (four) and the most divorces (three) while on the bench.

However, it was not for his judicial career, but rather his environmental legacy, that a statue of Douglas was erected near the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal and Towpath where it intersects with 30th Street (MAP) in the Georgetown neighborhood of northwest D.C. It was this statue that was the destination of this lunchtime bike ride.

Douglas was a self-professed outdoorsman, and wrote prolifically on his love of the outdoors. His love for the environment was so strong that it even carried through to his judicial reasoning. For example, in his dissenting opinion in the 1972 landmark environmental law case entitled Sierra Club verses Morton, Justice Douglas famously argued that “inanimate objects” such as “alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air” should have the legal standing to sue in court. In addition to his opinions and dissenting opinions, he also wrote some thirty books.

While serving as a Supreme Court Justice, Douglas also served on the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club from 1960 to 1962. Douglas’ other environmental activities and credentials include hiking the entire 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, helping to launch the nation’s first law review dedicated solely to environmental issues, and swaying his fellow justices on the court to preserve the Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky when a proposal to build a dam and flood the gorge reached the court. In fact, based on Douglas’ activism in advocating for the preservation and protection of natural areas and resources across the country, he was given the nickname “Wild Bill.”

But perhaps his best known contribution as an environmentalist was his role in helping to save the C&O Canal Towpath, and inspiring its subsequent designation as a National Park. He was at his D.C. home one morning in 1954 when he read a Washington Post editorial backing a plan to build a highway over or along the historic canal. Incensed, Douglas issued a challenge to the Post editorial writers to walk with him the entire length of the canal, and then decide whether it should be preserved. His efforts convinced the editorial board to change its stance, and helped save the canal.

After that, in the 1960s and early 1970s, Douglas and his wife Cathleen “Cathy” Douglas, whom he married when she was 22 and he was 67, would go for hikes along the canal every Sunday morning. Douglas was also known to take solitary walks on the towpath “when he wanted to think deeply about a case” before the court. Today, five million people a year visit the canal, making it the ninth most popular park in the U.S.

John Philip Sousa's Birthplace

John Philip Sousa’s Birthplace

On this bike ride I went by some of the places in D.C. that have a connection to “The American March King”, John Philip Sousa.  Because the bandmaster and composer was born in D.C., spent much of his career here, and eventually was buried in D.C., there are many connections between him and the national capitol city.

John Philip Sousa was born to Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus, a Bavarian immigrant, and John Antonio Sousa, a Spanish immigrant of Portuguese descent.  His parents moved to D.C. in 1854 where his father became a trombonist with the U.S. Marine Band. John Philip Sousa was born later that year, on November 6th.  At one point in time Sousa aspired to be a baker, but a career in music was almost inevitable.  Besides having a father who was a musician, Sousa started his music education by playing the violin as a pupil of John Esputa and George Felix Benkert for harmony and musical composition at the age of six. He was found to have absolute pitch. During his childhood, Sousa studied voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone horn, trombone and alto horn.

His early education and training would serve him well throughout the rest of his life.  Sousa was enlisted at the age of 13 by his father as an aprectice in the Marine Corps in order to prevent him from running away and joining a circus band.  He stayed in the Marine Corps for seven years, but at the age of 20, Sousa received a special discharge from the Marines and embarked on a career as a professional musician.  He toured with two companies and a vaudeville show, worked at two Philadelphia theaters, taught music, composed operettas, and even corrected proofs at a publishing company.  In 1879, Sousa conducted Gilbert and Sullivan’s immensely popular H.M.S. Pinafore. Under his masterful orchestration, the amateur company at his command was able to turn professional.  Its success led to a season on Broadway where famous composers took in Sousa’s production.

Word of the young music director’s accomplishments did not escape the attention of his former employer; and in 1880, the 25-year-old Sousa returned to the U.S. Marine Band when he was named its 14th leader.  He remained as its conductor for the next dozen years.  Sousa led “The President’s Own” band under five presidents from Rutherford B. Hayes to Benjamin Harrison, and played at two Inaugural Balls, those of James A. Garfield in 1881, and Benjamin Harrison in 1889.  He left the Marine Corps again the following year.

After leaving the military, Sousa organized and started his own band in 1892 , named The Sousa Band.  He and his band spent the next 39 years touring and playing concerts in America and around the world.  It was during this time that Sousa composed the vast majority of works in his voluminous musical portfolio, which included 136 marches, such as:  “The Washington Post,” for the celebrated newspaper of the same name; “Semper Fidelis”, the official march of the United States Marine Corps, and; “Stars and Stripes Forever”, officially designated by an act of Congress as the national march of the United States.  It was also during this period, in 1917, that Sousa became the leader of the U.S. Navy Band and directed concerts to raise money for World War I.  The Sousa Band performed at 15,623 concerts, including at the World Exposition in Paris, at which time the Sousa Band marched through the streets to the Arc de Triomphe – one of only eight parades the band marched in over its nearly forty years.

Interestingly, Sousa held a very low opinion of the emerging and upstart recording industry. Using an epithet coined by Mark Twain, he derided recordings as “canned” music.  In fact, Sousa’s antipathy to recording was so strong that he almost never conducted his band when it was being recorded.

For the first stop on my bike ride I went by the house, located at 636 G Street (MAP), in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Southeast D.C., where Sousa was born.  Over the years the house has gone through a number of private owners. It was most recently purchased in 2008 by Gunnery Sergeant Regino Madrid, a violinist with “The President’s Own.” Founded in 1798 by an Act of Congress, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Today, “The President’s Own” is celebrated for its role at the White House and its dynamic public performances. “The President’s Own” encompasses the United States Marine Band, Marine Chamber Orchestra, and Marine Chamber Ensembles, and performs regularly at the White House and at more than 500 public performances across the nation each year.

On this bike ride I also road over and back across The John Philip Sousa Bridge, which carries Pennsylvania Avenue across the Anacostia River in Southeast D.C. (MAP).  It has partial interchanges with unsigned Interstate 695 at its western terminus and with District of Columbia Route 295 at its eastern terminus. The first bridge at that location was built in 1804.  Later, it was replaced by an iron, underslung truss bridge on masonry piers which was built between 1887 and 1890. The same masonry piers were used in the construction of the present bridge, which was named after Sousa in 1939, and completed in 1940.

Lastly, I stopped by Sousa’s final resting place at Historic Congressional Cemetery, located at 1801 E Street (MAP), which is also in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Southeast D.C.  Sousa’s gravestone is inscribed with a fragmant of his greatest march, “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and is located within a family plot that includes graves for his wife and three children.   Although he lived a full life and had enjoyed an incredibly successful career that took him all over the world, his gravesite is located within sight of the bridge named in his honor, and just a mere mile away from the house where he was born.

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

Statue of Benjamin Franklin

Statue of Benjamin Franklin

On this bike ride I stopped by The Old Post Office Pavilion, to see a statue of Benjamin Franklin. The statue, which was designed by Ernst Plassman and sculpted by American artist Jacques Jouvenal, stands on a pedestal in front of the building located at the southeast corner of the intersection of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP) in the downtown section of northwest D.C.

The Carrara marble statue was a gift of Stilson Hutchins, one of the founders of The Washington Post newspaper, and was dedicated on January 17, 1889, at 10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. It was eventually moved to its current site in 1982. The statue is part of group of fourteen statues called “American Revolution Statuary.”  The statues are scattered across the city, mainly in squares and traffic circles, and are listed as a group on the National Register of Historic Places.

Franklin was born in 1706 in Boston, the 10th of 17 children of soap maker Josiah Franklin, and his second wife, Abiah Folger. His father wanted him to attend school with the clergy, but he was unable to afford more than two years. Instead, Franklin attended the Boston Latin School, but dropped out at the age of ten. Although he never returned to formal schooling, Franklin continued his education through voracious reading, teaching himself to read French, Spanish, Latin, German and Italian.  Later in life, however, he received honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, the University of St. Andrews, the University of Oxford, and the University of Edinburgh.

After leaving school, Franklin became an apprentice to one of his brothers, James, who was a printer. Thus began a career which would include varying levels of success in multiple vocations and avocations. Eventually becoming one of the foremost of this country’s Founding Fathers, Franklin was one of five men who helped draft the Declaration of Independence and was one of its signers.  As a diplomat, he represented the newly emerging United States in France during the American Revolution. He was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Franklin was also a patriot, statesman, political theorist, and politician, as well as an author, printer, librarian, bookstore owner, scientist, inventor, composer and musician, soldier in the Philadelphia militia, volunteer firefighter, philosopher, abolitionist, and civic activist. An authentic and world-renowned polymath in the vein of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, and Nicolaus Copernicus, Franklin’s expertise spanned so many different subject areas that it is almost impossible to capture an accurate appreciation of his complexity and genius.

In addition to his many more well-known accomplishments, Franklin was also instrumental in founding the first hospital in America; establishing the colonies’ first circulation library, founding the University of Pennsylvania, and organizing the first insurance company in the colonies. And as a prolific inventor, Franklin invented the rocking chair, the concept of Daylight Savings Time, the odometer, the Pennsylvania fireplace which is now more commonly known as the “Franklin Stove,” the flexible urinary catheter, the lightning rod, swimming fins, writing chair school desks, a new kind of ship’s anchor, a musical instrument known as a glass armonica, bifocal eyeglasses, and a pulley system that enabled him to lock and unlock his bedroom door without getting out of his bed.

Although Franklin could have made enormous sums of money for many of his inventions, he purposefully chose not to patent any of his inventions.  He explained why in his autobiography, in which he wrote, “… as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”

Other interesting albeit unrelated facts about Franklin include that at the age of 16, after reading a book about vegetable diets, he decided to become a vegetarian.  He wrote the first known “pro vs. con” list as a method for contemplating and making a decision.  Franklin thought the turkey should be the national bird, rather than the bald eagle, because he thought the turkey was more respectable than eagles and a true native of the United States.  Also, while working in London, he was given the nickname “Water-American” because he would rather drink water than beer, unlike the vast majority of people at that time. Lastly, Franklin liked to take “air baths,” in which he would sit naked in his bathtub and let the cold air from an open window clean away germs.

Oddly, Franklin also had two birthdays during his lifetime. His birth certificate reads that he was born on January 6, 1706. However, in 1752, the British colonies changed to a different calendar. Over time, calendars no longer line up with seasons and adjustments must be made to help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year so that seasons happen in the right month. That is why we now have leap year.  Anyway, at midnight on September 2, 1752, it legally became September 14th, and previous dates were adjusted for the new calendar.  Franklin’s new birthday from that point forward became January 17th.

Franklin was also a postmaster, having been appointed the British postmaster for the colonies by King George III before the Revolutionary War. Then on July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established The United States Post Office and named Benjamin Franklin as the first U.S. Postmaster General. This may explain why the statue was placed in its current location in front of the Old Post Office building.

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The Watergate Garage

It is a short bike ride across the Potomac River and along the Mount Vernon Trail to get to the Rosslyn neighborhood in Arlington.  It is there that you will find a permanent historical marker outside the building located at 1400 Wilson Boulevard (MAP).  The historical marker, erected by Arlington County as part of its Historic Preservation Program, identifies a location most Americans have heard about, but very few could pinpoint.

The events that took place in parking space D-32 inside this building’s garage played a pivotal role in bringing down the presidency of Richard Nixon.  It was here that a young Washington Post reporter named Bob Woodward clandestinely met with an informant, FBI second in command, Mark “Deep Throat” Felt, to obtain information for a series  of news stories about what would eventually come to be known as the Watergate scandal.

The marker outside the unremarkable parking garage reads, “Mark Felt, second in command at the FBI, met Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward here in this parking garage to discuss the Watergate scandal. Felt provided Woodward information that exposed the Nixon administration’s obstruction of the FBI’s Watergate investigation. He chose the garage as an anonymous secure location. They met at this garage six times between October 1972 and November 1973. The Watergate scandal resulted in President Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Woodward’s managing editor, Howard Simons, gave Felt the code name “Deep Throat.” Woodward’s promise not to reveal his source was kept until Felt announced his role as Deep Throat in 2005.”

If you want to see for yourself the historic site where these clandestine meetings were held, you will need to hurry.  There are plans to tear down the aging office building within the next few years to make way for eventual redevelopment, and the marker may soon be all that remains.

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