Washington, D.C. Journals

Washington, D.C., an American Anomaly

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An August 2001 trip to Washington, D.C. by Overlander

Welcome to the USA! Photo, Washington, D.C., United States More Photos
Quote: To me, Washington, D.C., is a most un-American city. Low-rise, with no structures higher than the Capitol permitted, it feels much more like Berlin or Vienna than Chicago or Cleveland. Filled with world-class museums, chi-chi shops, and imposing public edifices, this is a city to be reckoned with – and visited.

Washington, D.C., an American Anomaly

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Overview

Welcome to the USA! Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
With so much to see, it's hard to know where to begin. My suggestion is to spend your first two or three days around The National Mall, the superb boulevard stretching between The Capitol and The Lincoln Memorial. Along its length you will find the principal museums and public buildings in the city. The Smithsonian Institution This is not just one museum but several. Consider starting with The Castle for an overview of the museum system. The Air & Space Museum This is possibly the best aeronautical museum on the planet and forms another part of the Smithsonian. You'll find the Wright Brothers' first flyable aircraft, Lindbergh's Spi...Read More

S. Dillon Ripley Center

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Attraction | ""The Castle" - An introduction to the Smithsonian"

S. Dillon Ripley Center Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
"The Castle": The original Smithsonian Visitors' Center.This is the place to go for the necessary overview of the vast storehouse of artefacts and knowledge that the institution possesses, but however well done the Visitors' Center is, the building is really much more interesting from the outside as an example of mid-19th century Romanesque Revival architecture. The original contents of the Smithsonian were housed here; however, the public precincts of the building are now largely devoted to the task of introducing visitors to the Smithsonian Museums. The rest of the building houses administrative offices. Historical Note The world-r...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 13, 2001

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Washington, D.C., United States 2002
(202) 633-1000

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

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Attraction | "The National Air & Space Museum"

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
To walk inside the Air & Space Museum is to enter a gigantic time capsule. All around you, whether suspended from the ceiling or parked at floor level, the visitor is surrounded by aircraft that each, in its own unique fashion, represents a mile stone in the history of flight. It's an extraordinary feeling to find yourself in this cavernous room surrounded by so much ground-breaking aviation history. You look up into the rafters of the building and there, suspended as in amber, is the recumbant figure of Wilbur Wright inside his "1903 Flyer", with which he accomplished the first sustained flight of a heavier-than-air vehicle. It looks fragile and skele...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 13, 2001

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
Independence Avenue At 4th Street SW
Washington, DC

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

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Attraction | "The National Museum of American History"

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
Few museums can match this one in its breadth and scope. Far from being merely a jingoistic celebration of America, it traces all the major streams of the country's historical and cultural development with wings devoted to agricultural advances, maritime and shipbuilding history, road and rail transport as well as electricity. A large section is also dedicated to the fundamental changes that took place during the American Industrial Revolution between 1790 and 1860. All this is in the East Wing of the ground floor. The West Wing of the ground floor is devoted to Science in American Life. This is an exhaustive look at American scientific history fr...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 15, 2001

Smithsonian National Museum of American History
14th Street And Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
(202) 357-1300

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Attraction | "The National Museum of Natural History"

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
Covering 16 acres with 300,000 square feet of exhibition space, this is one of the most inclusive museums anywhere. Considering its scale, you could never see -- let alone comprehend -- it all. Like the other museums of the Smithsonian Institution, this one also requires a plan of attack. Choose what you want to see and head for it immediately. Only after you've seen your own particular choices should you allow yourself to be distracted by its many other amazing exhibits. Visiting the Museum Starting from the rotunda, which you can't miss considering the gigantic African elephant at its center, you can easily find your way to the exhibition halls. You have the bewilde...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 15, 2001

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
10th Street & Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC
(202) 633-1000

Union Station Shops

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Attraction | "Union Station"

Union Station Shops Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
Anyone used, as I am, to modern, post-war, utilitarian European railway stations will find Washington's Union Station something of a revelation. This is not a place you necessarily want to get in and out of as quickly as possible. This is a monument to the railways and a celebration of turn-of-the-19th-century American power and wealth in all its Beaux Arts glory, for Daniel H. Burnham, Union Station's architect lived up to his oft-quoted dictum, "Make no little plans." His structure is a massive 760' x 344' with gigantic columns, arches, statues, gilded ceiling coffers, and solid mahogany woodwork. It cost a staggering $25,000,000 when it was built, and its refurbishment in the 80s hit $...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 16, 2001

Union Station Shops
50 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, District of Columbia 20002

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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Attraction | "The Viet Nam War Memorial"

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
It was perhaps inevitable that the memorial to the dead and missing soldiers in this most contentious and criticized of American wars should have been nearly as controversial during its design, construction, and the first year or two after its dedication as the war that it commemorates. The simplicity of the design, the absence of romantic, vainglorious statuary and paeans to heroic deeds -- so often part and parcel of such monuments -- are utterly absent. Except for a trio of splendid bronzes depicting the common soldiers involved that were added later as a kind of afterthought as a sop to those who disliked the principal elements of the monument, it is but a simple marble wall built into a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 17, 2001

Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Bacon Drive and Constitution Avenue
Washington, D.C., United States
(202) 426-6841

Korean War Veterans Memorial

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Attraction | "The Korean War Memorial"

Korean War Veterans Memorial Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
This most recent addition to Washington's catalog of monuments and war memorials, this one dedicated to the men and women who fought in the Korean War was built at the behest of an aging body of veterans who saw their conflict "lost" in the longer shadows of World War II and the Viet Nam War. The building project was approved by Congress in 1986 and dedicated nine years and $18,000,000 later by President Clinton. My wife and I approached the memorial along a path that passes through a fairly thick stand of trees to the southwest of the Lincoln Memorial. Turning a corner, we were met by a series of seven-foot tall stainless steel statues of soldiers dressed in raingear, rifle...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 18, 2001

Korean War Veterans Memorial
French Drive SW
Washington, D.C., United States 20024