The symbol of the city of Washington DC, this 555-foot (169-meter) marble obelisk on the National Mall honors the nation's first president, George Washington. The cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid in 1848, but construction was not completed until 1884. About one-third of the way up the obelisk is a visible change in the marble, evidence of the onset of the Civil War. Construction was halted during the war, and when the builders returned to the same quarry to complete the project afterward, enough time had passed to cause a significant change in the color. An emblem of the United States and an icon of the nation, the Washington Monument is a moving sight, its elegant form mirrored in the Reflecting Pool of the Lincoln Monument nearby.
This monument is not only a memorial to the nation's 32nd president, but also to the people of his time. The monument stretches along the Tidal Basin with four outdoor gallery rooms and is connected by granite passageways. Each room exhibits aspects of Franklin D. Roosevelt's terms in office. The second room, for example, depicts the Great Depression with statues waiting in a bread line. Another room contains a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, the only memorial to honor a First Lady. The monument also features waterfalls and pools.
Spanning 538.55 acres (217.99 hectares) of land, Wheaton Regional Park is a natural oasis just north of Washington DC. The park, which was established in 1960, has three distinct sections that all offer different activities, from a train ride through the Shorefield area, to an informational nature walk at the Brookside Nature Center in the Glenallan area. The park also has many hiking trails that show off the park's natural beauty, as well as many picnic areas that are perfect for a sunny afternoon.
One of Washington's newest memorials, the Korean War Veterans Memorial pays tribute to the many who fought in the Korean War. Located near the Lincoln Memorial, this monument features statues of 19 soldiers carefully making their way through unknown terrain. Photographic images on a 164-foot granite wall pays tribute to the thousands of others who contributed to the war; nurses, mechanics, crew chiefs and support personnel. Inscribed on the wall are the words: "Freedom Is Not Free."
The elegant Main Hall, with its vaulted ceiling more than 90-feet high and marble floors, is one of the most attractive features of this station. Union Station opened in 1908 and fell into disrepair in the 1940s. It underwent a monumental restoration project and reopened in 1988. Restaurants, including an international food court, and more than 100 specialty shops draw visitors. Its proximity to the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol make it a perfect midday stop for lunch. Still a working train station, Amtrak has service from here to all points in the country.
Famous and distinguished Americans are honored at the National Portrait Gallery in portraits, photographs and other visual media. A wide variety of politicians, artists, scientists and social activists are represented. This gallery is a remarkable testimony to the diverse figures the United States has produced, from Grace Kelly and Boris Karloff to George Washington, Mickey Mantle and Gertrude Stein. Photographs, prints, drawings and sculptures supplement the paintings. Of particular interest is the Hall of Presidents, which features a portrait or sculpture of each chief executive.
Joyce Muis Lowery, the director, leads this gallery and studio in its mission to celebrate the work of disabled students in a vocational arts program. A charming glass replica of the Washington Monument sits in front of the building. Inside, view a wonderful variety of art from beginning children, apprentices and full-fledged artists. Worth noting is the Christmas inventory sale (30 percent off), which is an annual highlight.
This artist-centered non-profit seeks to provide a platform from which emerging artists can find and cultivate their place in the art community, while also exposing the public to new forms of contemporary visual art. The art space, which has a storefront on P Street for increased exposure, hosts six to seven exhibitions each season, and is constantly expanding their outreach to local artists. Visitors to Transformer can explore current exhibitions, attend special events like the annual art auction, and may even be able to speak with the artists.
To provide a glimpse into how one of the top U.S. newspapers is produced, The Washington Post offers a weekly 45-minute tour. Printing technology from before the computer age is demonstrated in a museum, along with a brief history of this well-respected news organization. The tour highlights all the major stages of newspaper production, from newsroom mayhem to the intricacies of the giant presses. Call one to two months in advance to register for tours. Visitors must be 11 years or older.
This famous square is often the site of protests and rallies, primarily because of its proximity to the White House. Do not be surprised to find protestors on any given day, no matter what the weather. The square was named after the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general and a hero in the American Revolution. The park is beautifully landscaped and meticulously maintained. Of special interest is a statue of Andrew Jackson riding his horse.
Designed by architect James Renwick, who also designed the Smithsonian Castle, this gallery was the home of the Corcoran Art Collection until it outgrew the building. Currently, the Renwick is among the foremost craft museums in the country. It includes a full array of the art form, from handwoven rugs to Shaker furniture. The museum shop is a treasure trove of art and books honoring fine craftsmanship. The place reopened in 2015 after undergoing 2 years of renovations.
The L. Ron Hubbard House, which is also known as the Original Founding Church of Scientology, is perched between embassies on Washington DC's famous Embassy Row. L. Ron Hubbard, the author and founder of Scientology, turned this building into the first Founding Church back in 1955. Today, visitors can learn about this creative individual, and the religion he founded, through exhibits and tours that explore the building.