Washington, DC history

The lost and untold history of Washington, DC.

Jerry Garcia at Winterland in 1972

Grateful Dead Play Free Show at American University

I don’t know if you’re a fan of the Dead. I am. Let’s add another concert post on top of Hendrix, the Doors, U2 and Chuck Berry. In their heyday, they passed through down in the...

Tivoli Theater (photo by Flickr user dbking)

If Walls Could Talk: Tivoli Theater Was “The Temple of the Arts”

You can’t walk past the Tivoli Theater in Columbia Heights and not admire it, imagining what the surrounding streets were like in the late 1920s. The arrival of Harry Crandall’s new theater was a big deal...

Trombone Shorty at the Howard Theatre

Titanic, Napoleon, Air Force One, Mafia Wars, Knights Templar and Petworth

Good week? Nah, this was a great week.  We had some really popular posts that made the rounds on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere at large. Here were the top three from this Titanic-centric week. 100...

Weller’s Pharmacy: Capitol Hill’s Connection to the Knights Templar

Here’s a great photo from Shorpy. This is the inside of Weller’s Pharmacy, located at 755 8th St. SE. Franklin Pierce Weller was a long serving druggist on Capitol Hill, starting in the 1890s, operating his...

Sanborn fire insurance map circa 1903

Petworth is Like Omaha

Petworth was not always full of hipsters that resemble Officer Sprinkle (J.L. Sprinkle was such a badass, he was a hipster before being a hipster was even invented). At one time it was rural … yes, rural....

Inside the District jail during Christmas around 1920 (Library of Congress)

Herbert Copeland: The Last Person Hanged in D.C.

A brief article tells the tale of the last execution by hanging in the District. Copeland was a cop killer and had murdered three policemen in cold blood in May 1918. He shot and killed Officer...

Alligators in their enclosure in the original Animal House, also known as the Carnivora House, which opened in 1892 and was the first permanent building at the National Zoological Park. The alligators are housed in the "temporary" wooden wing of the structure (Smithsonian)

Proposed National Zoo in Rock Creek Park

We are a great nation and Americans in the 1880s were proud of their rapidly growing and dominant country. But how can you truly be a great nation without a national zoo to show off all...

Air Force One lands in Dallas, November 22nd, 1963

President’s Jet Breaks 15 Records to Moscow

The new Air Force One, and the first jet in service for the president, set a new record in 1963. The Soviets claimed that the United States did not have any aircraft that could fly non-stop...

Chinatown Gate

Washington’s Chinese Mafia Wars

The opium den post of last week was the first foray into old Chinatown research, but I’ve uncovered a gold mine of fascinating local history. You probably were unaware of this, but in the 1920s, there...

Statue of Duke Ellington outside Howard Theatre

The Original Opening Night at the Howard Theatre

“Over one thousand of Washington’s elite attending opening performance … Audience one of the most brilliant ever seen at theatre in nation’s capital … best appointed theatre of its kind in the country.” These are quotes...

100 Years Ago Today: Major Archibald Butt, D.C. Resident, Boards Titanic for Transatlantic Crossing

This post went up at exactly 8 a.m. this morning local time, which is twelve noon Greenwich Mean Time. Exactly 100 years ago at this very moment, on April 12th, 1912, the Titanic set off from Southampton, England,...

Illustration of Mr. Hammond's hair loss (Washington Times)

Why Bother Shaving? X-Ray Away Your Unwanted Hair

This is clearly not sound medical advice, but this is a humorous article I dug up in the Washington Times. It’s from December 2nd, 1896. “The X-rays won’t take out hair, won’t they?” asked W. B....

Napoleon Bonaparte painting

If Walls Could Talk: Napoleon Relatives Lived on K Street?

You read that correctly. As in Napoleon Bonaparte … that is, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte III, the great-grandson of Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s youngest brother. Oh, Jerome III was also the great-grandson of Daniel Webster. Impressive lineage. What...

Officer Sprinkle

Officer Sprinkle, Opium, Murder, Suicide, Herbert Hoover, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Springsteen and Washington Senators Baseball … What a Week!

Our first full week with the new design and it was quite a success. We had a strong week on the blog with a good (potentially predictable) top three posts. A “Bomb” is Found and Officer...

1913 Washington Senators

A Tribute to Baseball and the Washington Senators

I love baseball — my first post ever was baseball-related — and baseball is back! Opening Day has passed (go Nats!) and the home opener is just around the corner. There is not better way to...

Franklin MacVeagh in 1909 (Wikipedia)

All Ideas of Beauty and Order Are Forgotten in the Suburbs

Secretary of the Treasury Franklin MacVeagh was a man that appreciated beauty and the aesthetics of architecture. He was also a clear supporter of urban planning with an eye towards maintaining or enhancing the appeal of...

Inside of lodging house and opium den in San Francisco, 1890s (Wikipedia)

There Was an Opium Den on Pennsylvania Avenue?

You may be aware of the blight that lined Pennsylvania Avenue in the 1970s with the proliferation of sleezy strip clubs and porn shops, but did you know that over 100 years ago, you could head...

The Inauguration of Herbert Hoover in 1929

This is an excellent silent film from 1929. It begins with outgoing president Calvin Coolidge and Hoover entering a vehicle and being taken to the Capitol Building down Pennsylvania Avenue. The members of the Supreme Court...