My Favorite City

Forget politics. They have nothing to do with this post. This is just a day to share some photos of some lovely days spent having fun in Washington, DC.

A former insurance company now houses a coffee shop on the main floor. Guess which chain.

The old Fireman’s Insurance Company.

This is the oldest bank in DC. They don’t build them like this anymore, do they?

The oldest bank in DC

This photo is for my Australian pen pal and blog buddies. According to my pen pal, the kangaroo and emu were chosen for the country’s seal because neither can move backward.

Outside the Australian embassy

There was a period in the 1800s when the Second French Empire style was popular in the US. This is one of the best examples. As you might guess, DC also goes for impressive monuments.

Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the First Division Monument

Something about baseball on the Fourth of July says “America.” The area around Nationals Park is seeing new development and renewal.

Nationals Park

And Christmas in English-speaking countries wouldn’t be complete without “A Christmas Carol,” right?

Ford’s Theater for “A Christmas Carol”

In mild years, you can see flowers blooming the day after Christmas.

Winter flowers

Still, DC is also a place where we can gather to express our diverse views about the country. We should never take that right for granted. Or abuse it.

Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Rally

More of the rally

I hope your weekend will be spent somewhere you enjoy with good company.

44 thoughts on “My Favorite City

    • Well, my pen pal is a school teacher and administrator, so she probably has to know these things! 😉 It’s just too bad that the embassy dates to around the 1970s—a period of ugly architectural design!

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  1. JM, it is a beautiful city! Love that sculpture from Austrailia and especially the symbolism. I think D.C. has a gorgeous train station. It is so architecturally beautiful and so well organized. I think Penn could take a cue from it! Glad you enjoyed it and I bet the weather was perfect for some sight-seeing. (The museums are great too, huh?) Thanks for sharing with us.

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    • If only the Metro stations were a tenth as nice. 😉 They are ugly, dirty, dark caverns from the 1970s, desperately in need of massive renovation. We try to choose nice days for our trips, so it’s easy to have a good setting for photos. And, of course, there are so many sights that are camera-worthy. We try to find some that aren’t as obvious as others.

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  2. We visited DC a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Arlington Cemetery was quite a moving site. We’re thinking of going back again soon (maybe this year or next). There are a few places we didn’t get to really enjoy and I’d love to go to the MLK museum. Have a great weekend, JM!

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    • So many people try to see everything in one two-week vacation. It’s impossible if you really want to see what you’re looking at. I usually suggest people focus on a few things and really take them in first. Then, if they have the time, hit some other highlights. You have a great weekend, too!

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    • If I’d grown up around here, I might have taken it for granted and ignored it—much as I did Chicago. But I think there’s something about moving to an area that leads us to explore it more. And there’s always more to explore. I doubt these are the last photos I’ll post of the city. 😉

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  3. D.C. is one of the prettiest places on earth!
    I remember seeing the EOB for the first time and standing there with my jaw dropping to my knees! Can you imagine finding artisans and tradespeople today to build anything like that!?
    D.C. is full of great architecture from the Georgetown Rowhouses to Union Station and everywhere in between.
    Do you get down Embassy Row much? Loved the diverse buildings there, too!

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    • I’m not sure anyone has the skill today to put up a building like this—let alone the financial resources! Georgetown, Capitol Hill, Eastern Market…there are some great architectural areas. Then there are the “vibes” to go with the neighborhoods. So much fun to explore. 🙂

      We don’t get up to Embassy Row too often, but next time I have to bring the camera. (My cell phone is ancient and worthless for photos.) Those beautiful old mansions are stunning. Then there are the ugly ones scattered around from the 50s – ’80s age of ugly architecture. There are some depressing federal buildings around, too—FBI, GSA NCR, DOT…. Not aesthetically pleasing places to spend your work day!

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      • When you get to Embassy Row, you’ll see where I lived if you get to the corner of Mass and Wisconsin. The name of the building is Alban Towers, and from what I can tell from Google, it’s still there! Greatest apt I EVER rented!!

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        • Wow, that must have been an incredible location to live in! At times, my husband and I think we’d like to live in DC, but we would have to downsize A LOT to get something affordable and nice in a good area. But we’re happy to settle for hopping on the Metro every few weeks. 😉

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  4. These are great! It’s been a while since we’ve been to D.C. for anything other than a protest. Our brief junket to Philly is making me think perhaps we can handle a quick getaway to D.C. soon! You’re inspiring me, JM! xoxoM

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    • It’s a great place to visit, even when not making political statements. 🙂 The museums are incredible, of course, but so are the music venues, art scenes, theaters, restaurants…. And you never know who you might see. 😉 I’m pretty sure the motorcade that passed us last time we were there was Biden’s. I recommend at least one meal at Ambar for a modern take on Balkan cuisine. 🙂

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    • We have our de rigueur tourist photos of the Capitol, White House, Washington Monument…. 😉 But I like finding the views from unexpected angles or from off the beaten track. We’re working on a photo collage of architectural details from the city for our living room, even if we don’t have your photographic skills. 🙂

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  5. Great visual tour of some fun sights, JM. I love DC. We took a trip a couple of years ago, but of course couldn’t get it all in within a week. One of the things I like best about DC is that it’s so walkable. It reminds me of London in that way.

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    • It is so walkable. Although, a lot of tourists seem to be caught off-guard by the length of the Mall or the fact that the Smithsonian Museum is made up of a heck of a lot of separate—and big—buildings. 😉 One trip is not enough to really experience all the sights. Of course, that’s true of so many places, really.

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    • Some friends and family say, “Oh, I couldn’t take the politics.” I tell them you really don’t see that when you visit. Sure, you can visit the Hill and White House, but it’s not like watching the news or C-Span! Really, it’s like spending time in any big city. The next time you’re out this way, I recommend a dinner at Ambar. 😉

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    • There’s so much to see if you ever have the opportunity. And someday I’d love to see Australia, too. So many things to do and places to see. So little time and funds!

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  6. I’ve never been there, I like the look of those strong statement buildings (strong statement buildings?! I think I know what I mean…). I grew up in London, and much as I love living in a rural village now, I always feel drawn to cities.

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    • Sometimes I think I should take photos of the hideous buildings from the mid-20th century. What were people thinking? Honestly, some of DC’s buildings are as institutional and oppressive as anything in the former Soviet Union. I can’t image working in that setting, and yet people do it every day. I suspect even London, with its incredible architectural history, has some of those, too. But when I was growing up, I never realized how much I would enjoy spending time in a big city.

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  7. This makes me want to venture into the district more often. LOL.

    It’s definitely a cool city. The U Street corridor is one of my favorite areas. Full of ethnic food, heaps of live music venues, and Ben’s Chili Bowl, which is ALL THE NOMS.

    I don’t get down there much from the Maryland burbs, but I ought to.

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    • I love people watching when I’m there—the diversity is such a creative spark for me. To walk down a street and hear conversations in a dozen different languages is like nothing I grew up with in the Midwest. And oh yeah—the food and music are amazing. Something for everyone’s tastes. And places like Kramerbooks or Prose & Politics for writers and readers….. I love the inspiration they all bring. 🙂

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  8. I like your enthusiasm. I appreciate DC for the history and cultural sights, but I’ve always ended up there in the spring or summer and it’s always ghastly hot and humid. And then there’s the politicians who work there….

    But as I said, I do enjoy other people’s enthusiasm, as it can sometimes help me see things from a different viewpoint. DC is much nicer from your viewpoint.

    I liked the info about the kiwi and kanga. Whether apocryphal or not, that’s a neat story.

    I took a few pictures of the South Korean embassy in London one time, and a guy came out of the embassy to give me the stink-eye until I left. You obviously look like a more reputable character than I do.

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    • Summer can be brutal—weather and crowds. We tend not to go as often then. But fall and nice winter days are great. And you just have to tune out the politicians. I love the museums on the Mall, but it’s also fun to just walk around some of the neighborhoods and check out the local eateries and entertainment.

      I think security in London has been an issue for a far longer time than it has been here. (Remember all the IRA bombings, especially in the ’70s and ’80s.) And we took these photos on a Saturday afternoon, so maybe no one was around to care.

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  9. I love DC too, especially your warmer weather and cherry blossoms. There so much history there and that must be really amazing to be able to see a play at Ford’s Theater. There’s a great international feeling there too. I hadn’t heard that about the kangaroo and emu – definitely a good symbol to have!

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    • We’ve taken in two plays so far at Ford’s Theater. It’s an interesting experience to look up at Lincoln’s presidential box and think about the events of that fateful night in 1865. I mentioned a few comments up that I love walking down a street and hearing conversations in a dozen different languages. It’s a great place for me to find inspiration.

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  10. I’ve been asked to visit friends in DC several times but had no inclination in that direction…until your post. The pictures are amazing and the history enticing. Thank you!

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    • It’s not too hard to tune out the modern political rhetoric and focus on the historical, cultural, and entertainment opportunities. And there are so many of those to choose from. Friends make the best guides and know the best off-the-tourist-radar places. Take advantage of one of those offers!

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  11. LOVE the pix! There’s so much stuff to see in DC – it would take a systematic plan with a grid system to cover it all – and that would take years. You can get some great views from the news museum and of course the available art work!
    There is politics and exhibit slant sometime, but just ignore that stuff and enjoy all the nooks and crannies…but not in summer or major holidays. (Someday I will manage the cherry blossoms even with the crowds)
    But I so agree about the metro – please do a WPA works program or something to update/make those places brighter and more inviting.
    Outside that, it’s an exciting energizing place.

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    • The Newseum is a fantastic place—we really enjoy that one. And the International Spy Museum is cool, too. And then there are all the Smithsonian branches and the National Gallery of Art…. And that doesn’t even get into the restaurants, theaters, and musical venues. Like any big, international city, there’s so much to see and do.

      There are supposed to be some great cherry blossom viewing areas that most tourists don’t know about. So they’re less crowded and offer spectacular sights. You still have to deal with the road traffic, and a lot of drivers who aren’t familiar with the city, but at least you can avoid hundreds of thousands of people trying to take photos of the same trees at the same time. 😉

      Fall is a great time to visit. The weather is still warm, but the big tourist crowds aren’t around. You can actually see the sites without being hurried. As for the Metro, well, there’s another reason to complain about Congress…. They’ve underfunded the District from the day it was created.

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  12. I love personal picture posts like these, JM. You do a great job of describing DC, too, which is a complex (and often complicated!) city. To me, it’s always felt as international as New York City, while still maintaining an air of high civility often lacking in those boroughs. I’d almost call it nobility, or reverence, except the connotations aren’t quite right. (I’m still struggling to get back into my reading/writing.) And, the city still knows how to party!

    One part of living in DC (well, Baltimore) I found so interesting was that, even if you yourself don’t have particularly strong political views, politics becomes such an integral part of your life, simply because you’re surrounded by it all the time. Conversations I might ordinarily have had about comic books or films became about Capitol Hill, even though I didn’t really have any vested interest! Like living in LA, where the business of Hollywood almost becomes second-nature. It’s a fascinating socio-cultural phenomenon.

    Thanks for posting these! They make me want to go back and visit. 😀

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    • It’s interesting that you mention the air of civility—it’s such a stark contrast to the nastiness of the political scene. Some of the civility may stem from the original “southern” character of the city. And part of it may be the importance of making contacts and establishing working relationships with wide groups of people from all over the world.

      And it’s hard not to talk about dealings “on the Hill” when so many of us work with the government in some capacity, either as employees or contractors. The company I work with does projects for a number of agencies. A coworker might meet with GSA officials on Tuesday and with someone from DoD on Thursday. It is such an interesting study for someone who’s degrees are in Anthropology!

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    • If you visit, give yourself plenty of time or select a few places you’d like to see in-depth. Although, a good option for orientation and getting around are some of the “hop on hop off” city bus tours, where you can buy a one- or two-day ticket and hop on and off whenever and wherever you’d like. Doing a complete loop on one to start lets you see a bunch of the highlights with a tour guide. Then you can ride around as you please. The Metro is easy, too, and it’s a great walking city. Gee, maybe they should pay me to promote tourism. 😉

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