Our Best Posts From 2012

1917. Arlington, Virginia. "Fort Myer officer training camp mess." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.

It’s hard to believe, but Ghosts of DC was born over seven years ago. We first started posting on January 4th, 2012 with a piece about Nick Altrock, former Washington Senators baseball player and Columbia Heights resident. That month we cranked out 87 posts and began an incredible journey of discovering the lost and untold stories of Washington, DC. We wrapped the year with a total of 735 pieces of content, which seems astounding.

It’s been difficult over the last several years to keep up the posts because, well, life gets in the way. It turns out that having little children is fairly time-consuming. I can barely crank out 735 words in a year, let alone 735 pieces of content.

To do a little reflection of all the incredible stuff we’ve surfaced over the years, we’re going to do a review of each year and highlight the best from that year. So, without further ado, here’s what happened with Ghosts of DC in 2012.

Some cool stories

President Wilson's funeral at Washington National Cathedral
President Wilson’s funeral at Washington National Cathedral

President Woodrow Wilson died in 1924. The National Cathedral was in the early days of construction, which wouldn’t complete until President George Bush’s term in 1989. He was a large proponent of the Cathedral and was buried in Bethlehem Chapel, ultimately being moved to the nave in 1956. His grandson, the Very Rev. Francis Sayre Jr. was born in the White House and served as the dean of the Cathedral from 1951 until 1976.

We uncovered a cool Doors concert at the Washington Hilton (i.e., Hinkley Hilton on Connecticut Ave.) and that same day learned why Syracuse University has a building in Woodley Park.

Two Concordes parked nose to nose at Dulles after arrival (1976)
Two Concordes parked nose to nose at Dulles after arrival (1976)

We learned that the first commercial Concorde flight landed at Dulles Airport instead of New York. This was largely a political kerfuffle and issue of community resistance. It also helped to have a large, then-modern airport far from the city and population centers.

We also discovered long-lost neighborhoods like Swampoodle, Hell’s Bottom (which had a “king”), and Murder Bay. Learning about Swampoodle and the rough Irish crowd that lived there is also how we came across our patron saint, Officer Joshua L. Sprinkle. He quickly became the face of the blog.

Babe Ruth signs up for the New York National Guard
Babe Ruth signs up for the New York National Guard

We also found out that the only person to have (allegedly) escaped from Alcatraz was a D.C. native and his name was Frank Morris. We learned about the Mormon Temple in Maryland, that Babe Ruth enlisted in the National Guard, and that suite 870 in the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park is haunted.

Do you know why it’s named Montgomery County? If you read this post, you do. How about Arlington County, Constitution Avenue, or Hains Point? Do you know why Chain Bridge doesn’t have any chains on it?

Susan Ford gettin' down in the East Room with her date
Susan Ford gettin’ down in the East Room with her date

There was a prom held in the White House in 1975 by President Gerald Ford’s daughter, Susan Ford. Members of her class from Holton Arms were in attendance in the East Room for the prom of a lifetime. Vanity Fair had a good piece about it a few years ago.

Oh, the year before, in 1974, the San Diego Padres moved to Washington. At least they committed to it after the lousy Senators left following the 1971 season. Needless to say, the deal fell apart, and we had no Major League Baseball here until 1987 when the Mets played the Phillies in an exhibition game. You were expecting me to say 2005 right when the Expos became the Nationals?

Speaking of 2012 and baseball, that was the year of the incredible Jayson Werth walk-off home run. The single best baseball experience ever on October 11th.

2012 was a great year to learn a ton about the District and surrounding neighborhoods. We had so much fun researching all of these posts, and it’s been fun going back over them.

soldiers stand guard on Chain Bridge during the Civil War (Library of Congress)
soldiers stand guard on Chain Bridge during the Civil War (Library of Congress)

Cool old photos

We dug up some incredible old images to share with our early readers. Here’s a small sample of our favorites from 2012. There were far too many to share, but these are great.

Walter Johnson in 1907
Walter Johnson in 1907
Washington, D.C., circa 1925. "Ford Motor Co. truck, John H. Wilkins Co." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. (Shorpy)
Washington, D.C., circa 1925. “Ford Motor Co. truck, John H. Wilkins Co.” National Photo Company Collection glass negative. (Shorpy)
Washington, D.C., circa 1918. "Old house, Mass. Ave. N.E. Built by Thomas Taylor in 1876."
Washington, D.C., circa 1918. “Old house, Mass. Ave. N.E. Built by Thomas Taylor in 1876.”
1917. Arlington, Virginia. "Fort Myer officer training camp mess." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
1917. Arlington, Virginia. “Fort Myer officer training camp mess.” Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
N and Union St. SW (1942)
Washington, D.C., circa 1917. "Devereux child in chariot." Late for the toga party. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. (Shorpy)
Washington, D.C., circa 1917. “Devereux child in chariot.” Late for the toga party. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. (Shorpy)
Smartly dressed couple seated on an 1886-model bicycle for two. The South Portico of the White House, Washington, D.C., in the background. 77-RP-7347-4. (National Archives)
Smartly dressed couple seated on an 1886-model bicycle for two. The South Portico of the White House, Washington, D.C., in the background. 77-RP-7347-4. (National Archives)
1916 Slaves reunion. Lewis Martin, age 100; Martha Elizabeth Banks, age 104; Amy Ware, age 103; Rev. Simon P. Drew, born free." Cosmopolitan Baptist Church, 921 N Street N.W. (Shorpy)
1916 Slaves reunion. Lewis Martin, age 100; Martha Elizabeth Banks, age 104; Amy Ware, age 103; Rev. Simon P. Drew, born free.” Cosmopolitan Baptist Church, 921 N Street N.W. (Shorpy)
January 23, 1924. Washington, D.C. "Midget." News item, Jan. 20: "The first organized touring Coolidge Marching Club to work for the nomination of the president comes to Washington Sunday morning. It is composed of 25 European midgets, headed by I.S. Rose, New Englander and impresario. The midgets wear buttons and ribbons on which is inscribed 'Coolidge 1925.
January 23, 1924. Washington, D.C. “Midget.” News item, Jan. 20: “The first organized touring Coolidge Marching Club to work for the nomination of the president comes to Washington Sunday morning. It is composed of 25 European midgets, headed by I.S. Rose, New Englander and impresario. The midgets wear buttons and ribbons on which is inscribed ‘Coolidge 1925.

Uncovering Cool Film Footage

We came across some fascinating historical footage. Here is a sample of some of the greatest hits.

Terrific streetcar footage from the early 1900s.

Early 1900s streetcar footage from Washington, DC

Teddy Roosevelt outside the White House, going for a short walk.

President Teddy Roosevelt goes for a walk outside the White House.

Presidents Wilson and Harding paying respect the the Unknown Soldier in 1921.

Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding pay respect to the Unknown Soldier

The horrible aftermath of the 1968 riots in Washington following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April of that year.

The Washington riots in April, 1968

Some film footage of Franklin Roosevelt’s funeral in 1945.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral in 1945

2012 was an incredible year for the blog. We’re happy to remember these old stories and share them with you again, whether you’re an original GoDCer or new to the blog. This content lasts forever and that’s the best part of our content. You can get lost in it and spend far too much time digging through fascinating stories.

Stay tuned for our 2013 review coming up soon!