Day 112

Downtown / Federal Triangle / National Mall (November 13, 2020)

After two days of heavy rain, the skies finally cleared and we headed downtown on a gorgeous Autumn day.

This weekend, there is a Trump rally here in the District. In this predominantly Democrat town it was strange to see people wandering around wearing Trump shirts and no masks while trucks drove by bearing Trump signs and blasting YMCA. It seems to us to be an unlikely song to be adopted by the Trump community as its theme song. However, there is a lot about the Trump movement that we find hard to explain.

We are not sure if this dog was a Trump supporter but it definitely was the most extravagantly pampered dog that we have come across during our walks.

With the possibility of riots breaking out between Trump supporters and counter-protesters at the upcoming rally, many of the buildings downtown continued to be boarded up.

We saw “Fire Control Room” written at a number of places and thought that it would make a good name for a band.

We passed by a couple of Washington’s most iconic establishments. The Old Ebbitt Grill is a historic bar and restaurant. In one form or other the Grill has been around since the early 1800s but has been at its current location since 1983.

The Willard Hotel has been at its current location since 1847. The present Beaux-Arts style hotel, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, opened in 1901. Many Presidents have stayed at the hotel over the years. Faced with several assassination threats, Abraham Lincoln was smuggled in to the hotel where he stayed for a couple of weeks until his inauguration in 1861. In April 1922, the Vice President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, was staying in the hotel when fire broke out and guests were evacuated. When he attempted to re-enter the hotel he was asked to identify himself by a fire marshall to which his response was “I’m the Vice President”. The unimpressed fire marshall relied “What are you Vice President of?” Other famous guests have included Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, The Duke of Windsor, Harry Houdini, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens and Martin Luther King Jr. who wrote his famous “I have a Dream” speech in his room at the hotel in 1963.

We liked the look of this bank with its ornate decoration.

We passed a number of massive Federal Government buildings, including the Commerce Department building

The Department of the Treasury

and the Department of Agriculture

The largest of them all was the Ronald Reagan building. At 3.1 million square feet it is the second largest federal building in the United States. Only the Pentagon is bigger.

In front of the Ronald Reagan building is the Oscar S. Straus Memorial, commemorating the accomplishments of the first Jew to serve in the cabinet of a U.S. president. Straus was the Secretary of Commerce and Labor under Theodore Roosevelt from 1906 to 1909. The memorial consists of a fountain and four statues.

One of the statues contains a quote by Joseph Addison (1672-1719), the English essayist, poet, playwright and politician. The full quote reads “The voice of reason is more to be regarded than the bent of any present inclination; since inclination will at length come over to reason, though we can never force reason to comply with inclination.” It seemed an apt quote for these times, when reason often seems to come a distant second to inclination.

Sitting on Freedom Plaza is another impressive government building. The Wilson Building houses the municipal offices and chambers of the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia. It is named for a long term Council member and former Council Chair, John A. Wilson. Wilson was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Malcolm X once called Wilson “one of the funniest guys in the movement.” Wilson wrote the District’s tough anti-hate crimes laws as well as its human rights law, which is one of the most comprehensive in the country. Tragically, he committed suicide in 1993.

We also passed one of the District’s most important museums. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the United States’ official memorial to the Holocaust. The museum opened in 1993 and provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history.

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