• The Big Chair in Anacostia (Source: Flickr user stgermh. Used via Creative Commons license.)
    Strange But True
     
     
    In one of D.C.'s more creative publicity stunts, an Anacostia furniture store built a giant dining room chair and paid a local model to live on top of it for six weeks in the summer of 1960.
  • Chuck Berry in 1973. (Source: Wikipedia)
    Strange But True
     
     
    As was his custom, Chuck Berry did not bring a backup band to his University of Maryland show in 1973, so he deputized a largely unknown Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to play alongside him.
  • (Photo by Flickr user I Like licensed via Creative Commons.)
    Local Tastes
     
     
    Before the days of Half Smokes and Jumbo Slices, D.C.’s collective stomach rumbled for a different delicacy: diamondback terrapin.
  •  Jimi Hendrix performs at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. (Photo Courtesy of © Ken Davidoff/Authentic Hendrix LLC)
    Music History
     
     
    No film record exists of the legendary guitarist's three performances in the D.C. area in 1967 and 1968, but those shows have become the stuff of local legend.
  • The National Mall
     
     
    The railroad station that stood on the National Mall in 1881 was already maligned by many, but the assassination of President Garfield there didn't help its reputation.

The Phantoms of North Fairfax Street

Black and white photograph of the 100 Block of North Fairfax Street, taken 1861-1865. (Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.)

When the Alexandria Gazette published a report about a "Fatal and Melancholy Affair" on June 29, 1868, editors probably didn't anticipate that the article would become the basis for one of Alexandria, Virginia's most infamous ghost stories. Maybe you've heard of the Bride of Old Town, or perhaps the name "Laura Schafer" rings a bell, but what's the full story? What really happened to the woman who supposedly burned to death on the night before her wedding day? What about her groom? And what if she never left Old Town?

Hostage Standoff at the D.C. Jail, October 11, 1972

Inmates shouting through D.C. Jail window during the hostage standoff on October 11, 1972. (Photo Credit: Unknown, Courtesy DC Public Library, Star Collection, © Washington Post, All Rights Reserved.)

In the wee hours of the morning on October 11, 1972 William Claiborne was doing what most other Washingtonians were doing: sleeping. When the phone rang at 4:15am, he answered groggily. A panicked voice on the other end of the line said that inmates at the D.C. Jail were holding guards hostage and had requested his presence.

A few minutes later, Corrections Director Kenneth L. Hardy called with a personal plea. “Mr. Claiborne, they have taken Cellblock 1 and they are holding nine of my men as hostages. They want to talk to you. Can you come down here?”

Washington Confronts the AIDS Crisis

March participants view the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall on October 11, 1987. (Photograph courtesy of The NAMES Project.)

On October 11, 1987, Washingtonians woke up to an elaborate quilt blanketing the National Mall, with 1,920 panels stitching together the memory of thousands of individuals who had succumbed to the AIDS epidemic in America. The AIDS Memorial Quilt helped push the disease into mainstream America's consciousness. But for Washington's gay community, the battle against AIDS had been raging for almost a decade.

A King at Mount Vernon

“Close up of President Roosevelt and King George VI as they drive from Union Station to the White House. June 8, 1939.” (Photo Source: FDR Presidential Library & Museum Flickr) https://www.flickr.com/photos/fdrlibrary/7366008204/in/album-72157630051202255/

On June 8, 1939, a royal train rolled into Track 20 at Union Station. The station had been cleaned and shined, the columns lining the track had a fresh coat of green and white paint, and a blue carpet was rolled out from the platform to the newly redecorated station reception room. The visitors arriving in Washington that day were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who made unprecedented history by becoming the first reigning British monarchs to ever set foot on American soil. Of the various activities that the King took part in during his stay, the irony of his visit to Mount Vernon was, quite possibly, the most intriguing.

The Hurricane That Created the Ocean City We Know Today

When readers of the Washington Evening Star opened their papers on August 25, 1933 they needed no reminder of what had just befallen the city. Two days earlier, the fiercest storm the nation’s capital had seen in decades pushed a wall of water up the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. In a matter of hours, over six inches of rain fell on D.C. 51-mph winds toppled trees. Floodwaters submerged highways. Roofs were torn off buildings. A train crossing the Anacostia River was swept off its tracks. The list went on… Damage was even worse in Ocean City, yet the storm was also a cause for celebration. Huh?

Chuting Books to the Congressional Library

“Washington D.C., Library of Congress 1897-1910.” (Photo Source: Library of Congress) Detroit Publishing Co., Copyright Claimant, and Publisher Detroit Publishing Co. Washington, D.C., Library of Congress. District of Columbia United States, Washington D.C, None. [Between 1897 and 1910] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/

By 1875, the old Congressional Library had completely exhausted its shelf space, and the Library's new building was not completed until February 1897. Although the 20 year wait for the physical structure was a long one, it seemed that the months between the building’s completion in February 1897 and its opening day on November 1, 1897 were the longest of all. Throughout these nine months, librarians and engineers joined together to try and solve one major problem: how would they move all of the Library’s contents the quarter of a mile distance from the Capitol to the new library without “loss, damage, and confusion.” The answer? Book chutes.

The Goodman League: Comedy, Cookout, Church, and Basketball

Capital Punishment - Goodman League vs. Drew League (Source: GAMEFACE-PHOTOS on flickr. Used via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.)

In the summer of 2011, basketball fans across the country weren't sure when they would ever get to see their favorite NBA players in action again due to labor strife. Luckily for those right here in the District, a community streetball league based in Southeast offered up the perfect solution to get some of the game's top talent on the court and competing again, and managed to turn a small gym in Northeast, D.C. into the center of the basketball universe for one special night.

"Laddie Boy" immediately catapulted to stardom as he captured hearts of local and national admirers alike. (Photo credit: Harris & Ewing Photography Collection, Library of Congress)

A Dog’s Life for Laddie Boy

It used to be that presidential pets were considered nothing special, but after World War I, Washingtonians were looking for happy news -- and they got it in the form of a happy-go-lucky dog that changed how Americans looked at animals who lived in the White House.

Poster commemorating the life of Chuck Brown (Source: DC Library's Go-Go Archive)

Call to all D.C. Go-Go Fans: Let’s Keep the Memory of D.C.’s Homegrown Sound Go-Going

Go-go music is a signature Washington, D.C. sound and the D.C. Public Library has started an archive to preserve its history. Archivist Derek Gray is leading the charge and is seeking heirlooms related to the D.C. go-go scene: CDs and audio recordings of Chuck Brown and other go-go artists, flyers, posters, event advertisements, photographs, videos, DVDs, and other memorabilia. Help preserve the legacy of D.C.’s homegrown sound for future generations!

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