FDR

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.

Commissioner Melvin Hazen and William Van Duzer, putting the first nickel in the parking meters ordered by Congress for a test in Washington in November 1938. (Source: Library of Congress)

When Parking Meters Were a Hot Controversy in Washington

Washington, D.C., has 17,000 parking meters, and the necessity of feeding them is one of those annoyances that urban drivers grudgingly accept.  Though it may be difficult to fathom today, there was a time in the early 20th century when the idea of collecting fees for parking spaces was opposed by the American Automobile Assocation and motorists who saw it as unfair taxation. As a result, it took several years to get approval to install the first meters on District streets.

 

 

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Bonus Marchers

In 1932, as the nation lingered in the desperate depths of the Great Depression, thousands of World War I veterans and their families marched on Washington to demand immediate lump-sum payment of their military pensions. To the consternation of President Herbert Hoover, who was about to embark upon a difficult reelection campaign, the ragtag army camped in tents and shacks along the Anacostia River, and began trying to pressure the White House and Congress by marching up and down Pennsylvania Avenue. Unfortunately, the bill to pay them their benefits passed the House but was overwhelmingly defeated in the Senate in June.

The marchers stubbornly stayed, and rebuffed the Hoover administration's offer of train fare out of town. In response, Hoover decided to evict them by force. On July 28, in one of the most disturbing moments in the history of Washington, U.S. horse cavalry wearing gas masks and steel helmets, and backed by five tanks, descended upon the bonus marchers, scattering them and their wives and children and burning their campsites. 

Mr. Ford Goes to Washington

Tonight at 9pm on WETA Television, American Experience premieres a new documentary about Henry Ford, so we thought we’d look back upon one of Henry Ford’s more anticipated trips to D.C.

In April 1938, the country was still trying to pull itself out of the Depression and there was a lot of conversation and debate about the role of government in business. (Hmmm… Sound familiar?) So, when car magnate – and frequent critic of FDR’s regulatory New Deal policies – Henry Ford accepted the President’s invitation to come to the White House for a private luncheon and discussion, it was big news -- especially for one local Ford Motor Company super-fan.