Day 109

The National Mall (November 3, 2020)

It being election day here in the States, we decided it would be appropriate to walk along Constitution and Independence Avenues that border the National Mall. The Mall is not a shopping mall. Rather, it is a large landscaped park that is also home to a number of the city’s most famous buildings, museums and monuments.

Sitting at the center of the Mall is the iconic Washington Monument. Commemorating George Washington, it is the world’s tallest obelisk, standing at around 555 feet tall. When it was first built in 1884 it was the tallest structure in the world.

Various reporters were stationed around the city using the city’s monuments as backdrops as they reported on the election.

Sitting directly across Constitutional Avenue from the monument is the White House. It used to be that you could get relatively close to it but these days temporary fencing has been raised completed encircling it. More than one person has commented that the President has, successfully, constructed at least one wall.

A number of large government buildings line Constitution Avenue, including the headquarters of the following agencies

The Federal Reserve
The Environmental Protection Agency
The Department of Justice
The Internal Revenue Service
The Federal Trade Commission

Mal worked for many years at the Federal Trade Commission, including a few years working in the Headquarters building pictured above. On both sides of the FTC building are two monumental statues created by the American sculptor Michael Lantz. Standing about 12 feet tall, they both depict a man attempting to restrain a horse, symbolizing the FTC restraining runaway monopolies and trusts. Hence, they are called “Man Controlling Trade”.

Lining both sides of the Mall are a number of large museums and art galleries, including the following.

National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Museum of American History
National Museum of Natural History
National Archives Museum
The National Gallery of Art (West Wing)
The National Gallery of Art (East Wing)
National Museum of the American Indian
National Air and Space Museum (currently being renovated)
National Museum of African Art
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
National Museum of Asian Art

All of the above museums, apart from the National Gallery of Art, are part of the Smithsonian Institution. The fortune of the British scientist, James Smithson, passed to the United States to found at Washington “an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men”.

The first building constructed for the Institution was the Smithsonian Institution Building (“the Castle”) which was designed by architect James Renwick, Jr. and opened in 1855. Smithson’s crypt now stands in the Castle.

Smithsonian Institution Building

The Institution now consists of 20 museums and galleries as well as the National Zoo. Eleven are on the Mall. They are truly an amazing part of the City, particularly since they are all have free entry.

Sitting directly across from the Castle is a completely different type of building, housing the United States Department of Energy.

We stopped in a the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden for lunch in it’s Pavilion cafe. The Garden is home to an incredible collection of modern sculpture including “Graft” a life size metal tree sculpture by Roxy Paine.

“Amor”, by Robert Indiana

And a beautiful stone and glass mosaic by Marc Chagall called “Orphee”.

The smallest and oldest building on the Mall is the Lock Keeper’s House. Erected about 1835 it stood at the eastern terminal of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The canal now terminates in Georgetown but back then continued on as far as the Mall before flowing into the Potomac River.

Just off of the Mall on Independence Avenue is Washington’s newest memorial, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. Designed by Frank Gehry, its main features are a series of bronze statues by Sergey Eylanbekov and a large transparent tapestry by Tomas Osinski.

At the eastern end of the Mall is the United States Capitol. It is the home of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the United States federal government. The original building was completed in 1800 but was damaged during the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States. It was fully restored and enlarged later on, including the addition of its massive dome.

Day 108

Dupont Circle / Logan Circle / Shaw (October 27, 2020)

During our walk today we noticed that many of the row houses had pleasant front gardens. These gardens have become more used during these Covid times. People want to get out of their houses where they have been confined for months and also meet with friends and family more safely outdoors. Here are some of our favorites.

On T Street we passed by a building where Todd Duncan lived from 1935 to 1960. Duncan was a renowned baritone during the middle part of the twentieth century. He is most famous for his role as Porgy in George Gershwin’s opera, Porgy and Bess. He refused to perform that role at the District’s segregated National Theatre until the venue changed its policy for the production’s brief run in 1935.

The area has seen massive growth during the last twenty years with apartment blocks springing up on what seems a daily basis, particularly along 14th Street. We thought that this building was one of the more interesting.

But the area still consists mainly of row houses. Here are some of our favorites from today’s walk.

We passed a building that was once the home of Frelinghuysen University. Named for a U.S. Senator from New Jersey who was a civil rights activist during Reconstruction during the 1860s and 1870s, the school provided education, religious training and social services for black working-class adults. Unfortunately, it closed its doors for good in the late 1950s. The home, known as the Edwin P. Goodwin House after its first owner, was built in 1879 in Queen Anne style and was designed by Diller B. Groff. Over the years it gradually fell into disrepair until it was bought in 1992 for $90,000. Now it has been beautifully renovated.

Recently, we have found ourselves on a number of one-block streets that we have found quiet and inviting. Westminster Street is another example. It had the added advantage of having a beautiful small children’s playground set between the homes.

The playground included a large colorful mural called “Community” that was painted by Anne Marchand who Lauren, coincidentally, used to dance with in days gone by.

We are not sure how we would feel about using this ATM machine.

Day 107

Shaw / Chinatown / Penn Quarter (October 21, 2020)

Today we mainly walked along 7th and 9th streets running through Shaw, Chinatown and the Penn Quarter.

Recently, we discussed Banneker High School when we were walking through Columbia Heights. What we didn’t mention is that Banneker is scheduled to move to a new location in Shaw. After a fierce debate, Washington D.C.’s Council voted to swap the locations of Banneker and Shaw Junior High and renovate or rebuild them both. We walked by the construction of new Banneker and it looked very impressive.

Recently, we posted about 12th Place, a pretty and colorful block-long street in Columbia Heights. We came across a similar block-long street during today’s walk. French Street may not be quite as colorful as 12th Place but it is just as beautiful.

It is not just the school’s that the District has been feverishly renovating and rebuilding but also the libraries. We passed Shaw Library which was extensively renovated in 2010. With its distinctive translucent facade, glass enclosure, and light flooded interior, it has been hailed as a model for future libraries.

At the moment, you can see large white boxes outside the District’s libraries. They are for District residents to drop off their ballots for the upcoming election. Please vote everyone!

Walking down 7th Street we crossed from Shaw into Chinatown / Penn Quarter. At the center of Chinatown on the corner of 7th and H Streets is a traditional Chinese gate also known as the Friendship Archway. Designed by local architect Alfred Liu, the archway was built in 1986 to commemorate the newly-established sister cities relationship between the District and Beijing, China. The arch has been very recently renovated so the colors are particularly popping.

Next to the archway and anchoring the neighborhood is the Capital One Arena, where Washington D.C.’s professional basketball (Wizards) and ice hockey (Capitals) play.

The Arena was built in 1997 and was the impetus to a complete turnaround for the surrounding area. Mal used to work near the center and can remember 7th Street being mostly boarded up buildings, with the occasional adult video store and Chinese restaurant. The area is unrecognizable from those days. It is now a vibrant area full of restaurants, bars, theaters and apartment buildings.

We were joined on today’s walk by our good friend Ross. Here he is standing in front of a sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky aptly named “Man with a Briefcase”.

Down on Pennsylvania Avenue we passed by the National Archives Building.

Like many of the buildings along this part of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Archives building was built during the 1930s as part of a massive public buildings program. It holds the three main formative documents of the United States and its government: the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution; and the Bill of Rights. All three are on display in the building’s main chamber, called the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

Next to Archives and also built during the 1930’s is the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building. Comprising seven floors and 1.2 million square feet, it houses the headquarters of the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the office of the United States Attorney General.

Directly across from the DOJ Building is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It is named for former FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover.

Although it was widely praised when it was first completed in 1975, the brutalist building has subsequently become one of Washington’s least loved buildings. Among other things, it has been called “Orwellian”, “an urban sin”, “disastrous”, “insensitive”, “hostile” and a “dreary 1970s behmoth”. Currently, the FBI is searching for new headquarters, so the building’s future is uncertain.

By this stage, it was after five which pre-pandemic would see the streets jammed with the cars of workers heading home. Instead, this is what we saw.

To our minds, a much more successful Washington landmark is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The library was designed by legendary architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and was completed in 1972.

The building was recently re-opened after an extensive renovation. Before the renovation, there was some talk about pulling it down and rebuilding a new library. Fortunately, the building survived. It has now been designated a historic landmark and is a rare example of modernist architecture in the District.

Just up from the library and perhaps the foremost symbol of the resurgence of the area is the City Center mixed-use development. Covering more than five blocks, it include four residential buildings, two office buildings, a luxury hotel and some of the fanciest stores you will find in the District.

Having worked up an appetite, we headed back to Shaw where we had an enjoyable meal on the terrace of a Japanese restaurant with the unlikely name of Zeppelin. By the time we had finished dinner, the terrace was packed with young diners, many who had brought their dogs along. Walking though these trendy areas, we have noticed that millennials appear to have an affinity for dogs. It is almost Paris like, the way they take their pets with them everywhere.

We finished the evening on the roof deck of Ross’s building which offered a great view over the surrounding area.

Day 106

Downtown (October 19, 2020)

We were downtown again today and were struck by how empty it is. We passed by many closed restaurants that would normally be bustling.

Even those that had terraces open for business were empty.

We have to assume that the big old hotels like the St. Regis and the Hamilton are also suffering.

The National Geographic Headquarters were still boarded up from the riots, adding to the desolate feel.

Across from the National Geographic headquarters was an empty lot and the largest BLM sign we have seen so far, taking up the whole side of a building.

There are a number of political signs throughout the downtown area. We liked this tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Another normally bustling place is Lafayette Square directly across from the White House. It has now been completely fenced off.

Among the often nondescript concrete and glass boxes that dominate downtown we liked this building as being somewhat different.

Also standing among the buildings was the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church. Built in 1886, it is the oldest continuously black-owned property in Washington D.C.

We found ourselves briefly on Massachusetts Avenue, just enough time to pass one of the embassies that line the avenue. This time it was the Embassy of Peru.

Washington D.C. is a city full of statues but this is the first one we have come across honoring a poet.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet living from 1807 to 1882. He is known for such classic American poems as “Paul Revere’s Ride” and “The Song of Hiawatha.” The statue is by William Couper and Thomas Ball and was dedicated on May 7, 1909.

Standing across the street and above the Chase bank was the iconic Eighteenth Street Lounge.

Stepping through an unmarked door next to the bank, you walked up a long staircase and entered, in our opinion, the District’s best club. The ESL opened in 1995 and for twenty five years was hugely popular, offering world class DJs, as well as live music. It took up two floors and consisted of several rooms containing shabby chic furniture, velvet couches and fireplaces. It drew a diverse crowd of all ages to dance and enjoy the music which had a definite international vibe. Unfortunately, it is another victim of the pandemic and recently closed its doors. We will miss it immensely.

Day 105

Columbia Heights (October 17, 2020)

Our good friend Nick joined us on today’s walk as we continued making our way through Columbia Heights.

We passed by two schools with impressive front entrances, Banneker and Cardozo High Schools.

We have spoken about Cardozo in a previous blog entry but were surprised to find another public high school so close by. It turns out that Banneker, named for Benjamin Banneker, an African-American scientist, surveyor, almanac author and farmer, was originally the neighborhood Junior High School. Banneker who lived from 1731 to 1801 famously called out Thomas Jefferson for his ownership of slaves. In a letter written to Jefferson on August 19, 1791, Banneker wrote:

…. Sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that altho you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind, and of his equal and impartial distribution of those rights and privileges which he had conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the Same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to your Selves.

Banneker High School is now a magnet high school and is considered to be one of the top high schools in the region because of its strenuous curriculum and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. It currently has approximately 450 students.

We passed by the home of another anti-slavery activist, Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Shadd Cary (1823-1893) was an American-Canadian anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher, and lawyer. She was the first black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware but moved to Canada with her family after passage of The Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 which required that all escaped slaves, upon capture, be returned to their owners, even those living in free states. However, she returned to the United States during the American Civil War where she recruited soldiers for the Union. She taught, went to Howard University Law School, and continued advocacy for civil rights for African American and women for the rest of her life.

Sometimes we come across a building that stands out as being somewhat different than its neighbors. The Manhattan is one of those buildings.

Feeling a little hungry by this stage we dropped by Washington’s top rated middle eastern restaurant, Maydan.

During the pandemic many of the District’s restaurants have opened outdoor tables where patrons can dine more safely. Maydan has the added advantage of being located at the end of an alley that it has appropriated for diners.

Unfortunately, Maydan was not open so we headed to nearby Franklin Hall for what can best be described as bar food.

The find of the day was, undoubtedly, a one-block street, running between Florida Avenue and W Street. 12th Place is perhaps the prettiest and certainly the most colorful block we have come across during our walks. We spoke to a friendly resident who gave us some of its history. He said that the small houses were originally built for staff from nearby Howard University but at some stage it had become mainly Jewish. However, after the 1968 riots, many residents departed for the safety of the suburbs. The street, like much of the surrounding area, became run down and was known as a place to acquire illegal drugs. Now the street has seen a resurgence. So much so, that despite their small size, houses on the street can sell for as much as $800,000. The neighbor told us that the street is sometimes known as Skittles Place, after the popular colorful candies. It’s definitely an appropriate nickname.

Speaking of colorful, we liked this home’s front steps.

And this home’s front door.

Day 104

Columbia Heights (October 15, 2020)

We were back in Columbia Heights today on a beautiful sunny day. There are many majestic row houses in the neighborhood. Here are some of our favorites.

There were also the usual assortment of brightly colored homes, including this lilac one.

We walked by the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School. The school is named for a Puerto Rican activist who lived in the District and was the first head of the Spanish Community Advisory Committee. The Committee is now called the Office on Latino Affairs of the District of Columbia and acts as an intermediary between governmental agencies and the private sector to improve the quality of life of the Latino population. The school, which was the first adult charter school established in the United States, teaches numerous international student oriented classes, including: English as a Second Language; culinary arts; and technology. The school has two campuses, including the one we passed on Harvard Street that was formerly the home of James Ormond Wilson Normal School. It was designed in Elizabethan Revival style by Snowden Ashford and built in 1912. Ashford was the District’s first municipal architect serving from 1895 through 1921. His fingerprints are on numerous public buildings from that time including Eastern Market, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and a number of schools and fire stations.

Two quiet, one block long, streets that run along either side of Harvard St. between Sherman and Georgia Avenues are remarkably different. Hobart Place is tree lined and shady. It even had an empty lot that had been turned into an idyllic little park.

Gresham Place on the other hand was almost completely devoid of trees. It gave us an appreciation of how lucky we are to live in an urban environment where treelined streets are the norm.

There are also a number of old and new apartment buildings in the area and we passed many currently under construction. This building provided an interesting juxtaposition between the old and new.

Day 103

Park View (October 13, 2020)

Today, we finished our exploration of Park View. The neighborhood is aptly named because it does, indeed, have a view over a park.

But it is not a public park.

Instead the 272 acres that border Park View are owned by the U.S. Government and are for the benefit of approximately 340 veterans that live in the Old Soldiers’ Home, a retirement facility on the grounds. The Home was founded in 1851, a few years after U.S. General Winfield Scott and his troops routed their Mexican counterparts in the Mexican-American War. The Mexican government paid Scott $150,000 not to sack Mexico City and the General asked that Congress put the money into a trust fund for old soldiers. Anyone over the age of 60 who has served for 20 years or more of active duty is eligible to live there, along with those with a service-related disability or combat-zone service that makes it unable for them to earn a livelihood. The veterans who live there get all of their meals and 24-hour medical care. The grounds include a golf course and two ponds stocked with fish. Other facilities include a bowling alley, art studios, a theater, a gym, and even a bar where residents drink for free.

In our last blog entry we noted that most of the renovated row houses that we come across are painted some combination of grey and off-white. Here are some examples from today’s walk.

We expect that this place will be grey and off-white when we next see it.

Our friends Carlos and Naera used to live in this building before they moved to Pittsburgh. They had an amazing roof deck where we spent an enjoyable July 4th one year watching fireworks exploding all around the city.

We have passed a number of beautiful fire houses during our walks but this is the first charming police station we have come across.

Day 102

Park View (October 8, 2020)

It’s hard to describe exactly why, but there is something about Park View that distinguishes it from the surrounding neighborhoods. Maybe, it’s that we definitely felt as though we were on an elevated point in the City as we walked through the neighborhood. Maybe it’s that the row houses that constitute most of the neighborhood are more varied than usual. Particularly on Warder Street, which was wide and unusually bare of trees, it was almost as if we weren’t in Washington at all.

The other day, we posted photos of green houses. Today we are going with blue.

However, we couldn’t resist just one more green house.

As we have walked through Columbia Heights and Park View we have noticed many of the row houses are being renovated. You can usually tell these because they are inevitably painted some combination of grey and off-white.

We really liked this modern and simple brick home with its dark trim.

For a small neighborhood, Park View has more than its fair share of corner groceries.

It’s been a while since we have seen a community garden. You can’t tell from the photos, but this one, called Wangari Gardens, seemed particularly urban tucked in between busy roads, with Washington Hospital Center looming over it. The gardens are named for Professor Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan social, environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Among other things, she founded the Greenbelt Movement which planted over 51 million trees in her home country. Sadly, she died in 2001 from ovarian cancer.

Here are a couple of examples of the public art that we enjoyed in the neighborhood.

We also walked by the most formidable elementary school that we have seen so far during our travels.

Bruce-Monroe Elementary School is a bilingual (English/Spanish) public school with approximately 450 students. It is named for Blanche Bruce and James Monroe. Bruce was born into slavery in Virginia in 1841 but went on to become a politician who represented Mississippi in the United States Senate from 1875 to 1881. Monroe was the fifth president of the United States. The gothic school was designed by Snowden Ashford and built in 1916.

Day 101

Columbia Heights / Shaw (October 6, 2020)

Today we started our walk on Georgia Avenue. It’s an interesting avenue with a varied streetscape. There you’ll find everything from Covid ready nightclubs . . .

to “Gospel Spreading” bible book stores.

But mainly, it’s an assortment of small restaurants, bars, grocery stores, barber shops, nail salons, and other neighborhood serving establishments. Some of have been renovated and others not so much.

This mid-century diner looked as if it would be more at home in California than in the District.

We passed by a metroPCS store, which retails mainly cell phones but oddly also sells go-go music. It has been in the news recently. The store has been blasting go-go music since it first opened back in 1995. But for a short time a year or so back the store was ordered by T-Mobile to stop playing the music after a neighbor from a nearby luxury apartment building complained. However, after demonstrations in support of the store, and a petition that gathered more than 61,000 signatures, the company reversed its decision and we are happy to report that normality has been restored.

Go-go is a popular subgenre of funk that is indigenous to D.C. and, in fact, became the city’s official music this year. It started in the seventies here but has never taken off anywhere else. That being said, we first came across go-go music back in the eighties on the other side of the World in New Zealand when Mal bought a go-go compilation album called “Go-go Crankin’: Paint the White House Black”. Little did we know at the time that we would one day end up living in the hometown of go-go.

Just around the corner from the MetroPCS store is the historic Howard Theatre. Opened in 1910, the theatre has played host to many of the great Black musical artists of the twentieth century.

During the seventies and eighties it was a popular venue for go-go acts and Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go, features in the Howard Theatre Walk of Fame.

Not far from the Howard Theatre is another iconic Washington music venue, the 9:30 club.

We’ve been around long enough to remember the original 9:30 club which got its name from its location at 930 F Street NW. That venue was small with a pole in the middle of the room that always seemed to get in the way when you were trying to watch an act. It also had an interesting smell of urine and bleach that fit in nicely with the whole punk and indie vibe of the place.

In 1996, the club moved to its current location and it is now ranked as one of the premier locations in the country to see indie music. Back in 1996, the gentrification of Shaw was still a few years distant and the area had a decidedly dangerous feel. On one particularly memorable night, at a Billy Bragg concert, an English tourist we met at the club asked us if it was safe to walk back to his hotel in Dupont Circle. We assured him that it was and told him that he could join us as we were walking back that way ourselves. However, no sooner had we left the club, when a fleet of police cars with lights flashing and sirens blaring flew by. We could tell that he was already doubting whether he should have taken our advice. His anxiety heightened a little further along when we had to walk out into the traffic on U street to avoid a fight that had broken out on the sidewalk in front of us. But the last straw came when a rat, not much smaller than a cat, ran across his shoes. He turned to us and said something along the lines of, if this is a safe neighborhood, I’d hate to see the unsafe ones. But now the Club is surrounded by luxury apartment buildings. How quickly things can change.

Speaking of apartment buildings, we came across this renovated one we liked with its black and white color scheme.

As well as this newly built one.

We also passed by Capital Checkers, where dedicated checkers players have been gathering for over 30 years to enjoy their love of the game.

Day 100

Downtown (September 30, 2020)

Today marked our hundredth exploring the streets of Washington D.C. by foot.  So far, we have walked for over three hundred miles.  To put that in perspective, if we were walking from Washington D.C. to Boston, we would already be well past New York City.  During our days of urban hiking we have come to realize how much we have previously missed when traveling by car or even by bike.  There really is something to be said for slowing down and smelling the roses. Every day we come across something of interest. It might be a particularly captivating house or beautiful garden.  Sometimes it’s a school named after an interesting person that we knew nothing about until we got home and did some googling. Getting out on the streets has also helped us to counter the feeling of isolation that these pandemic days have caused.

Speaking of which, nowhere is the effect of the pandemic more visible than downtown. Today we walked along the K and L street corridors. The two streets are the homes of numerous legal, consulting and lobbying firms. In fact, some would argue that the true power in Washington resides on these two thoroughfares rather than on Capitol Hill. Normally, on a Wednesday afternoon downtown would be bustling with suits but on this day there was barely anyone to be seen.

It didn’t help that many of the restaurants and stores were closed and some were still boarded up after the recent riots.

The streets are not very interesting visually, consisting mainly of modern concrete and glass buildings. However, every once in a while you across something more interesting. Such a building is the Almas Temple, a Masonic building with a beautiful Moorish facade facing Franklin Square. The building was constructed in 1929 and moved a hundred feet westward to its current location in 1987 to make way for a new office complex.

Another fascinating building overlooking Franklin Square is the Franklin School. Built in 1869, the school was the flagship building of eight modern urban public school buildings constructed in the District during 1860s and 1870s. Unexpectedly, the building has an important place in the history of telecommunications. On June 3, 1880, Alexander Graham Bell sent the world’s first wireless telephone message from the top floor of the building to his nearby laboratory on L Street.

Follow K Street east from downtown and you eventually run into Mount Vernon Square. Sitting in the middle of the square is beautiful Carnegie Library. Built in Beaux-Arts style, the library was donated by Andrew Carnegie and was opened in 1903. It operated for almost seventy years as a public library before it became overcrowded and the central library moved to the nearby MLK Memorial Library. The building now contains what may be the world’s most lavish Apple Store.

Across the road from the Apple store is the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The 2.3 million square foot convention center was opened in 2003 and is named for the District’s first (and aptly named) home rule mayor.

Next to the Convention Center is Washington’s largest hotel, the Marriott Marquis, with 1,175 rooms. It was another woeful reminder of the effects of the pandemic to see no sign of life outside of what is normally a hectic hotel.

Walking along L Street we passed the iconic Post Pub that recently closed its doors. For many years the pub had been a favorite of Washington Post journalists who worked just around the corner. However, the pub found it hard to survive the impact when the Post moved its headquarters in 2015 and the advent of the pandemic led to its ultimate demise.

We passed numerous newly constructed buildings along L Street that appeared empty. Somehow this lonely tree appeared symbolic of the quiet times downtown.