August 2014

Filed Under:DC

When the Washington Monument Suffered from "Geological Tuberculosis"

The unfinished Washington Monument, circa 1860. Source: Library of CongressThe Washington Monument reopened this spring, after being closed for repairs needed to repair damage suffered during an earthquake three years ago this week. The latter included cracks that developed in the monument's marble panels and damage to the mortar that holds the approminately 555-foot-tall structure together.

But those problems aren't the first woes that have plagued the monument, which will mark the 130th anniverary of its completion in December. Back in 1911, for example, some believed that monument was afflicted with an even more peculiar problem, trumpeted in a December 1911 article in Popular Mechanics magazine by John S. Mosby, Jr., which bore the provocative title: Washington Monument Attacked by 'Geological Tuberculosis.'" Mosley wrote that the monument "is suffering from a disintegration that, while not immediately fatal, will materially shorten its life."

Filed Under:DC

D.C.'s Illustrious Brewing Past and Present

It's D.C. Beer Week, the annual "celebration of good beer in the National Capital Region from conception to consumption and everyone and everything in between." The fact that (1) such a celebration exists and (2) there are events all over town; is an indication of Washington's growing reputation for quality suds. Indeed, the last few years have seen a huge increase in the number of local breweries and they are doing some very interesting things with America's favorite alcoholic beverage.

Needless to say, the scene hasn't always been so bustling, and we wanted to learn more about the history of brewing in our fair city. So, we sat down with two people who should know: beer historian Garrett Peck, author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. (available at Amazon.com and fine booksellers everywhere) and Kristi Griner, head brewer at Capital City Brewing Company.

Filed Under:DC

Robin Williams Crashes the D.C. Improv, 1996

Robin Williams and Steve Wonder at Democratic Party fundraiser in Washington, May 8, 1996. (Source: Getty)

As the world mourns the passing of actor-comedian Robin Williams, we thought we'd turn back the clock to happier times.

In May of 1996, the Democratic National Committee invited Williams to D.C. to perform at a party fundraiser at the old Washington Convention Center. The event was scheduled for Wednesday, May 8, but Mork came to town a day early. After dinner with Vice President Gore, the comedian made his way over to the D.C. Improv on Connecticut Ave. where he surprised the audience -- and perhaps the previously scheduled acts -- with a late-night stand up routine. As would-be headliner Tom Kenny said jokingly, movie star Williams "got off his big bag of money" to swing by the club and get some attention from a real, live audience.

Filed Under:DC

The Scurlocks Photograph Washington's Secret City

Addison Scurlock dressed in a suit and tie whenever he held a camera. Confident and serious about his work and his appearance, he presented himself to the world the same way that he presented his subjects.

Scurlock was only 17 when he moved to Washington and listed “photographer” as his profession in the 1900 census. He apprenticed with a white photographer for three years before opening his own studio in his parents’ house. By 1911 he had a studio in northwest Washington, and soon he had two apprentices of his own: his sons, Robert and George. As adults, they joined him in the photography business. 

“I would describe my father as very intense, in all of his endeavors,” Robert Scurlock said in a 2003 interview. “He had a lot of drive to him. If he saw something he wanted to explore, he would find all means of doing it.”

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