Saturday, September 28, 2013

Playing Tourist in Our Nation’s Capital

(Ft. Meade, MD) Hi 70 Lo 50 – It was a spectacular day today, both weather-wise and sightseeing-wise! We drove 14 miles to the nearest Metro station and took the train to downtown D.C. The Washington Metro is one of the nicest subway systems in the country. It’s clean, efficient, and easy to negotiate. And nothing beats being dropped off within a block of your destination. Sure beats driving through downtown traffic and trying to find a place to park!

Everything we wanted to see today was within about a four block area. We started off by walking a short distance to Ford’s Theater, the site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge it.)

We were surprised at how “un-crowded” everything was today. There was no line at the ticket window to Ford’s Theater. We picked up our two (free) tickets and went up the spiral staircase to the balcony. This is the view toward the left side of the theater from the right-center section of the balcony.

And this view is toward the right side. The President’s box can be seen at the right side of the stage.

Here’s a closer look.

Our first thought on seeing the inside of the theater was how small it is. The theater is still used today for plays. In fact, they were closing it about a half hour after we arrived to prepare it for this evening’s production.

We went back downstairs and visited the small museum on the first floor. It was interesting, and had some of John Wilkes Booth’s personal items. Then we walked across the street to visit the home where Lincoln actually died. After he was shot he was carried down the stairs and out of the theater and into the nearest occupied home to be administered to. This pink house with the green shutters directly across the street from the theater is that home.

They let in only a few people at a time, and we got to walk into the bedroom where Lincoln spent his last hours.

As we exited through the gift shop (you ALWAYS exit through a gift shop!) we were amazed by this three-story high tower of books. Every book is about Abraham Lincoln! Anybody for a game of Jenga? Smile

We walked the few blocks back to Pennsylvania Avenue, which if you stand in the middle of the street gives you a terrific view of the Capitol Building.

The White House is at the other end of Pennsylvania Ave., but you can’t see it until you get almost to it. It was about a mile walk, and since we’ve seen the White House a couple of times before (and toured it), we didn’t make the walk. But we could see the Washington Monument peeking above the buildings. It’s still undergoing repairs from an August 2011 earthquake.

Our next destination was the National Archives. It sure is a beautiful building!

The Archives is the home of our national treasures, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They’re all on display in climate-controlled, bomb-proof cases in the rotunda. I managed to get this photo before I was reminded that no photos are allowed.

I must say, it was quite awe-inspiring to see the original documents created by our founding fathers! They’re faded to the point that you really can’t read them, but still… what an opportunity it was to lay eyes on the origins of our democracy. Quite an emotional experience!

Another block down Pennsylvania Avenue was our final destination for the day, the Newseum.

The Newseum was opened in 2007, and has been one of the most popular attractions in Washington ever since. It’s seven floors of exhibits are dedicated to a celebration of our first amendment, and a history of news media not only in the U.S., but around the world. On the outside wall of the building near the entrance are the current front pages of almost all of the major newspapers in the U.S. This is one half of them. The other half was on the other side of the entrance.

I couldn’t resist getting a photo of today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, with news of my Cardinals clinching their division with last night’s win over the Cubs.

The first thing on our agenda at the Newseum was to get some lunch at the food court. Our lunch, which consisted of a hot dog, fries, and Diet Coke (for me), and a panini sandwich and tap water (for Dee), cost us $18.00. Yikes!

After we “enjoyed” our lunch, we spent the next four hours covering the huge number of exhibits on the seven floors. A good portion of the place consists of hundreds of video screens. There are screens everywhere!

Including this monster, which happened to be showing a college football game. The gentleman at the lower right corner gives you an idea of the size of this screen.

Here’s another view of it, showing how it dominates the atrium area of the building. (Yes, that’s a helicopter in front of it.)

The Newseum has many different sections and rooms, all dedicated to different aspects of news gathering and reporting. There were many small theaters where you could watch programs about ethics in reporting, bias in the media, the impact of images in reporting the news, and all sorts of other aspects of media. One whole section had newspaper front pages from just about every historical event since the founding of our country.

A section about the Berlin Wall had some actual sections of the wall.

A section about the FBI had the actual cabin that Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) lived in in the wilds of Montana.

The 9-11 exhibit had a piece of the World Trade Center.

And this very moving three-story display of newspapers from all around the world on the day after 9-11.

On the top floor of the building is a terrace where you can get a beautiful view of the Capitol Building.

We finished about 15 minutes before closing time. We walked back to the Metro station for the ride back home. On the way we saw this statue.

Not sure what that’s all about, but it sure is different!
Our feet are sore and we’re very tired, but we’re not complaining. This was one of the best days of our summer travels. Nothing beats sightseeing in our Nation’s Capital.


Donna W. said...

Great blog. love the pics and narrative

Donna W. said...

oh yeah and GO CARDS!