• Filene Center in 1980
    It Almost Didn't Happen
     
     
    Today, Wolf Trap is a cultural hub of the DC area but opposition from Maryland congressmen almost shut down the project before it started.
  • Queen Elizabeth II at University of Maryland football game, October 19, 1957. (Source: Library of Congress)
    Strange But True
     
     
    Queen Elizabeth II caused quite a stir at a West Hyattsville, Maryland Giant Food store when she made a surprise visit in October 1957.
  • Francis Blackwell Mayer's painting of the burning of the Peggy Stewart during the Annapolis Tea Party in 1774. (Source: Maryland State Archives)
    Colonial Days
     
     
    The Boston Tea party wasn't the only colonial protest against British taxation. Annapolis residents had their own dramatic demonstration in 1774.
  • Vietnam War Protest, 1967
     
     
    Jan Rose Kasmir's stare down with soldiers at the Pentagon in 1967 was captured by photographer Marc Riboud and his image circled the globe. Meanwhile, Kasmir had no idea for almost 20 years.
  • President John F. Kennedy meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on June 3, 1961 in Vienna, Austria (Photo Source: US Department of State Website)
    Strange But True
     
     
    On October 26, 1962, an American journalist and a counselor for the Soviet Embassy met for lunch at the Occidental Restaurant--a meal that would help end the Cuban Missle Crisis.

Bomb Rocks U.S. Capitol

Washington Post cartoon March 1, 1971.

In the wee hours of the morning on March 1, 1971, a disturbing phone call came in to the Senate telephone switchboard. A man “with a hard low voice” told the operator that the U.S. Capitol would blow up in 30 minutes.

In the past, operators had fielded similar threatening calls from time to time, but all of them had turned out to be false alarms or pranks. This one, however, would be different.

Two bison in front of the Smithsonian Castle, downtown Washington, D.C., circa 1880's. The bison were used as models for Smithsonian Institution taxidermists and were part of the Live Animal Collection, forerunner to the National Zoo. (Photo source: Smithsonian Archives)

Happy Birthday, National Zoo!

On March 2, 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed legislation establishing a zoological park along Rock Creek in Northwest Washington “for the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people.” But, of course, the backstory began years before.

Prior to the creation of the Zoo park, the Smithsonian kept a large collection of animals in pens and cages on the National Mall. Washingtonians flocked to see the motley collection which included a jaguar, grizzly bear, lynx and buffalo.

Buffalo grazing on the National Mall! Can you imagine?

Little Known Victims of the Lincoln Assassination

Currier and Ives, The Assassination of Lincoln at Ford's Theater, April 14, 1865. (Photo Source: Library of Congress)

The events of April 14, 1865 at Ford's Theatre in Washington are well know. Actor John Wilkes Booth went into President Lincoln's box and shot him. The President was mortally wounded and died the next morning. Meanwhile, Booth led authorities on a 12 day chase that ended with his own death in Virginia. What you may not know, however, is that there were others were victimized that April night. This is their haunting story.

The Seneca Stone Ring Scandal

We're happy to have a guest post from local historian and friend of the blog, Garrett Peck who is the author of  The Smithsonian Castle and the Seneca Quarry, just released from The History Press.

Garrett's book tells the story of a (until recently!) largely-forgotten quarry in Seneca, Maryland, which provided the stone for the Smithsonian Castle and a host of other local landmarks. As he explains, the quarry also proved to be a source of scandal for President U.S. Grant in the 1870s.

Did Led Zeppelin play at the Wheaton Youth Center on January 20, 1969? (Photo: Jeff Krulik)

Did Led Zeppelin Play Here?

Led Zeppelin's first live show in the DC area may have been at the Wheaton Youth Center — a nondescript gymnasium in a Maryland suburb on January 20, 1969, in front of 50 confused teens. But there are no photos, articles or a paper trail of any sort to prove it.

Surely this must be an urban legend. Or is it?

Local filmmaker Jeff Krulik has spent 5 years trying to find out if this concert ever really happened. The result of this investigation is his new film, Led Zeppelin Played Here. We caught up with Jeff after a recent screening to ask about this intriguing project.

On February 2, 1959 (l-r) Michael Jones, Gloria Thompson, Ronald Deskins and Lance Newman became the first black students to break the color line in Virginia's public schools. (Source: Washington Post website)

It Happened Here First: Arlington Students Integrate Virginia Schools

On February 2, 1959, Stratford Junior High School (now H-B Woodlawn High School) in Arlington was the first public school in Virginia to be integrated. That morning, four African American seventh graders – Ronald Deskins, Lance Newman, Michael Jones and Gloria Thompson – started classes at the school with over 100 Arlington County police officers in riot gear standing guard. To the great relief of the community, there was no violence or disorder (though two students were sent home for setting off a firecracker in a school bathroom)

The day had been a long time coming.

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