October 30, 2012

....Places: 2

The narrowest house in Georgetown - 8 feet wide.

I loved the variety and change in the neighborhoods of Washington.  From the small clapboard houses in Georgetown to the giant homes of the rich now often used for embassy’s, the only repetitions I saw are those of the Federalist structures.  I like the façade easements I saw in the downtown area that preserve a pre-WWII feeling to the neighborhoods.  I like the green of the trees and the beauty of them as they turn.

But this is another city where no one can afford to live; it is another city with big pockets of the poor.

Façade Easements: Five buildings facades now remain a part of the DC landscapes.

Not many ethnic neighborhoods remain in the central part of the city.  We did find an arch indicating that once a large Chinese population lived here.  The churches remain though.  Almost every other block, you can find a stone church structure, and topping them all is the grand National Cathedral.

The Chinese Gate and a neighborhood stone church.

We were lucky enough to tour a famous federal structure twice thanks to our Senator and ThomaS’s Senator.  Each time we entered the White House, I was surprised by the size of the rooms and the brilliance of the colors.  With this building in our news every other moment this election year, perhaps it has grown in size in our minds as it increases in stature.  It is a home.  One forgets that.  Offices too.  The rooms are not huge.  The first floor State Dining Room will seat a lot of people, but the colors are gentle and the fabrics all blend more than well.  The biggest room used for major events of State, the East Room, is a comfortable size but not a huge echoing chamber at all.  Every administration that uses this site must long for bigger rooms as well as a bigger budget.

No camera’s.  Darn.  Please stop in at this wonderful site that gives you glimpses of each room as it changes through the ages:  The White House Museum.

We exited out the main entrance and walked out the drive.

We came in through the east wing past the library and the dish room.  At the end of this hall, George and I were led away from the tour Past a privacy barriers for the Obama’s.  Both times we were guided in different directions to a small elevator just off the kitchen.  There on the wall, with a chip like the glass on our bathroom walls had, were heavy 12x12 blocks of white Corning glass tiling the walls.  Our Secret Service guide didn’t know any of this.  I just hope he was interested.  Up on the first floor, we were guided across the main entrance where the Tiffany Glass used to fill between the pillars to the East Room. 

Outside after an excellent tour.

Through both the Cross Hall and the Entrance Hall, we were let into the East room.  Here the fireplaces are a dark, red marble that contrasts strongly with the golden glow of the room.  In each room on this floor was a well instructed Secret Service person.  They were able to tell us all about the contents of the rooms with a certain special interest that comes from passion. 

Through the Green, Blue, Red, and State Dining Room, we were let out of all this magnificence into the fresh air to a portable ramp.  Most folks whipped out their phones and took pictures as we left.  ThomaS headed home into the storm from here.  We had enjoyed his company no end.

The previous day, we had also toured the Capitol with ThomaS….walking up, and down, and all around this stunning structure.  Great security.  The toughest, actually, letting us out in a new Visitor Center that’s designed to process hundreds at a time.   Dramatic domes.  A design for secret whispers….that the heavy curtains were installed to stop but didn’t.  Old Chambers and the Rotunda.  That’s all we got to see.

Walking up the path to the new Visitor’s Center.

Left: View of the Capitol Dome from the Visitor Center.  Right:  Looking down into the waiting area.  The statue is the original working model for the bronze on top of the dome. 

Left: Rotunda.  Right: Dome with Washington in Roman dress.

Around the fenced park area we rolled and walked asking our way to the nearest Metro Elevator.  Closed, and Closed, and lost be us.  Eventually we made our way, very tiringly for G and ThomaS to an entrance and for a quick glimpse of modern art before dinner.

The Last White House day, we had a fast food Chinese lunch with ThomaS, while he headed to his car, we found ourselves at the Hirshhorn Museum…and what a treat it was.

Left:  Hirshhorn exterior.  Right:  Interior of the courtyard.

The Hirshhorn energized us.  We took our time.  Much of it was truly exciting stuff or I began to understand it after I’d been with it for a while.  Then we rolled up the mall to the Museum of the American Indian.  Again, an outstanding museum and George’s favorite, but not enough time to see it really well. 

The last day we woke late, we packed, then we made our way to the magnificent Union Station, and we had another meal with some wonderful folks. 

Union Station façade.

Left: Covered walk on the stations front.  Right:  In the old boarding area now a three story space for shops and restaurants.

The last thing we did was visit the Holocaust Museum.  Everyone needs to do this at least once.  Again, no photographs allowed. They were not needed as the images are seared into our brains.


  1. I feel I really missed out by not visiting Washington. What an eye opener.
    I had no idea there was so much to the White House.
    Gosh you must be pretty tired.

  2. I wish I'd been in your pocket. What a tour.

  3. This makes me long for another visit to Washington; which is not difficult because I live in central Virginia. Actually, I lived along the Beltway years ago and have been to some of the places you visited, one of which was the Holocaust Museum. You are so right about the images seared onto your brain.

    Where is your next postcard coming from! :)

  4. Thank you for taking us along on your trip. I really enjoyed it. I must confess, as often as I have been in DC I've never visited the White House. I spend all of my time in the art museums.

  5. So wonderful, Mage. DC has changed so much since I saw it in 1987. Glad you had a good time.


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