Historical Events

These posts are about historical events in Washington, D.C.

British Troops Regret Burning Washington; Madison’s Cabinet Slow to React

We’re coming up on the 200th anniversary of the Burning of Washington. On the 100th anniversary, the Washington Times wrote a long retrospect on what happened, along with reactions from some of the players. The Times...

Geronimo Participates in Roosevelt’s Inaugural Parade

Here’s a great old photo. I was unaware that Geronimo came to Washington in 1905 and participated in Teddy Roosevelt‘s inaugural parade (see some amazing photos¬†of the inauguration). Click on the image for a much larger...
The assassination of President Lincoln: at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C., April 14th, 1865

Playbill from Ford’s Theatre on the Night of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination

April 14, 1865 at Ford’s Theater began with a showing of Our American Cousin, and ended with an assassinated President Lincoln. The Library of Congress has the program from that evening. Pretty incredible to think that...
Walter Johnson in 1907

The Time Walter Johnson Pitched 18 Innings in One Game!

Walter Johnson is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and on May 15, 1918, he delivered a performance that stood out from any of his other games. He pitched a total of 18 innings...

Sketches of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination

The Library of Congress has a large collection of graphic arts created over the course of two centuries. They depict famous locations and subjects. There are a large number dedicated to capturing the assassination and aftermath...
Japanese lantern stone statue in West Potomac Park

Japan Donates Cherry Trees to DC

We’re back to a few days of cold, nasty weather. This seems like a good time to think back to the gorgeous weekend we just had, and talk about cherry blossoms. In 1912, the Mayor of...

Soviet Diplomat Testifies on the Hill

So here is a headline you certainly won’t see every day, and you certainly wouldn’t see something like this in the 1980s. In the Cold War edition of Ghosts of DC, here’s a cool article that...

D.C. Emancipation Act: April 16th, 1862

This week celebrates the 152nd anniversary of the D.C. Emancipation Act, which ended slavery in the District of Columbia and came eight months before President Abraham Lincoln wrote and delivered the Emancipation Proclamation. It ultimately freed...

Baltimore Mayor Protests Future Dulles Airport (1949)

This is a great story to cross-post with our sister site, Ghosts of Baltimore. Airline traffic was getting too heavy for National Airport to handle by the end of the 1940s. The region’s second airport was...
Lincoln's second inauguration

Extremely Rare 1865 Photo of Lincoln’s Second Inauguration

This photo was taken on March 4th, 1865 on the day Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated for a second time. A little over a month later, President Lincoln would be assassinated in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes...
1857 Inauguration

First Known Photo of Presidential Inauguration (1857)

This is an extremely rare photograph of James Buchanan‘s Inauguration at the East Front of the Capitol Building on March 4th, 1857. It’s a little blurry and not the highest resolution, but amazing nevertheless. The exposure...
Marion Barry arrested by the FBI

How Post Photographer Got Picture of Mayor Barry’s Cocaine Bust

Sometimes the story behind the story is almost as sensational as the original news. Nearly everyone remembers when former Mayor Marion Barry was arrested for possession and use of crack cocaine back in 1990. But until...
Women marchers organized by country, state, occupation, and organization, led by Miss Inez Milholland and Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, during the suffrage march, March 3, 1913, Washington, D.C.

Drawing of Suffrage March Line (1913)

Here’s an interesting drawing that we dug up. It shows the suffrage march line from March 4th, 1913. Source: Library of Congress
Knickerbocker Theater disaster

Footage of 1922 Knickerbocker Theatre Disaster Aftermath

Many of you will be familiar with these images from the Knickerbocker Theater disaster. We haven’t yet written about it, but there’s an excellent write-up on it at here and at Greater Greater Washington.
1873 Inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant

1873 View of Ulysses Grant’s Second Inauguration

Here’s an old print from 1873, showing Ulysses Grant’s second inauguration, looking down Pennsylvania Ave. Source: Library of Congress
James Madison

1817 Presidential Proclamation: Outer Walls of All Houses Shall be Built of Brick or Stone

Here’s an interesting bit of old history. This is a presidential proclamation suspending certain building regulations for Washington on January 1st, 1817. January 1, 1817 By the President of the United States Whereas by the first...
President Reagan signing National Minimum Drinking Age Act into law

History of the Drinking Age in Washington, D.C.

When did DC raise the drinking age to 21? The story goes back to 1984 with Ronald Reagan, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, and highways.
1978 Washington Bullets

“Warm Up the Fat Lady” The Night the Bullets Won the NBA Title

Elvin ‘The Big E’ Hayes and Bobby Dandridge were in the house at the Verizon Center the other night to watch the struggling Washington Wizards lose in overtime to the Boston Celtics. Before the game, this...
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