• The "stage" at Wheaton Youth Center as it looks today. (Photo: Jeff Krulik)
    Myth or Mishap?
     
     
    Led Zeppelin Played Here
    Did Led Zeppelin really make its Washington-area debut in front of 50 confused teens at the Wheaton Youth Center on Jan. 20, 1969?
  • It Happened Here
     
     
    In 1916, renowned pacifist Jeannette Rankin made history as the first woman elected to Congress. At age 87, Rankin made one final push for peace by leading an anti-Vietnam march: the Jeannette Rankin Brigade.
  • The Robert Portner Brewing Company's main brewery at St. Asaph & Pendelton Streets in Alexandria. Known as the "Tivoli" Brewery, it operated from 1869 until 1916. Photo courtesy of the Portner Brewhouse.
    Robert Portner Brewing Company
     
     
    From the closing years of the Civil War until prohibition, the Robert Portner Brewing Company of Alexandria, Virginia was the leading brewery and distributor in the southeastern United States.
  • Ice skating on the Reflecting Pool in January 1922. (Image source: Library of Congress)
    Winter Fun
     
     
    Ice Carnival at the Tidal Basin
    In January 1912, 15,000 people showed up for an evening of costumed skating on the Tidal Basin.
  • Edgar Allan Poe, 1849
    Mysterious Poe
     
     
    Seeking a stable government job, Edgar Allan Poe embarked on an ill-fated trip to Washington in 1843
Stephen Decatur

Every Second Counts: The Decatur-Barron Duel of 1820

In the early 19th century, taking a life was as easy as taking offense. Just ask Commodore Stephen Decatur. On this day in 1820, he was killed in a duel leaving (as some claim) his spirit to wander and perhaps seek retribution from the parties that coldly arranged his death.

Decatur was born in 1779 and had a mostly praise-worthy navy career, earning “the heart of a nation” and the malice of a few whose careers he stepped over to achieve his own greatness. One of these was Commodore James Barron.

Things got ugly between the two men with the help of two others who apparently wanted a piece of Decatur, too.

The District's Claim to the Daiquiri

Though it may not really feel like it when you go outside lately, spring is almost here. It won't be long before people all over the DMV are sipping drinks by the pool. Pina coladas... mojitos... and, of course, everyone's favorite homegrown cocktail, the daiquiri.

Ummm...?

Okay, okay, the daiquiri is not truly a Washington creation -- it was first mixed in Cuba -- but it has a strong early connection to the District. So, we have some basis to claim it. Read on!

The Washington Post Gets Snarky in 1891

Around these parts it’s pretty common to have buildings named after politicians. The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the Rayburn House Office Building, the Tip O’Neill Building, the Clinton E.P.A. Building – the list goes on and on.

Well, back in the 1890s, the Washington Post felt that Rep. Joseph G. Cannon (R – Illinois) deserved a different kind of recognition for his work on the National Zoo project.

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.

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