In the midst of the final countdown to the new millennium at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 1999, people were waiting for more than confetti to fly and the ball to drop. Eyes around the world were locked on computer systems to see if the technology would advance with the clock. As news outlets had warned the public for months, the so-called Y2K bug was expected to affect, and potentially paralyze thousands of computer systems worldwide, and WMATA was taking no chances when it came to making sure Metro would be running when the year 2000 arrived.
On June 11, 1989, 8,000 WHFS 99.1 listeners crowded into the parking lot in front of Joe’s Record Paradise in Wheaton, Maryland for an eight hour concert to protest, station owner, Duchossois Inc.’s, decision to remove Damian Einstein from the airways. Damian introduced the DMV to the newest music before it exploded on the national scene, and his sudden absence from the airways shocked WHFS’s most loyal fans who feared that Duchossois intended to move on from the progressive rock format. Centered on the freewheeling deejay, the progressive rock format defined WHFS defined the station since 1968.
Fans were right to be concerned. Over the course of the next decade, WHFS ditched the deejay for “gold-throated “on-air personalities who aired songs from corporately manufactured playlists. While these changes initially earned the station a score of new fans, by the end of the decade, it was clear that WHFS lost the loyal support of their “bumper-stickered fans” who felt as if they lost a friend.
December 28, 1991 marked an important milestone for the Metro and for Washington: the long-awaited Green Line finally opened for business. On that Saturday, complete with official speeches, balloons and plenty of pomp and circumstance, the Anacostia, Navy Yard and Waterfront stations opened their fare gates for the first time. Getting to this celebration was anything but easy, however. For many years, it had seemed that the Green Line would never become a reality, as the last color of the Metrorail project faced countless setbacks due to budgeting, route disputes, and construction methods.
“Now this is no easy thing — naming a sports team,” Washington Post reporter Bob Addie wrote in the spring of 1973. Naming anything can have complications: the right name is memorable, hopefully catchy, and looks good on jerseys, while a bad name becomes a joke — or worse, an embarrassment. That was why there was such surprise that Abe Pollin, who had recently become owner of the new — and still unnamed — NHL hockey team that was coming to the D.C. area was “toying with the idea of having a contest to name the baby.”
The first five Metrorail stations opened March 27, 1976, so that means today is Metro’s birthday! We thought we'd celebrate the occasion with a new Metro-inspired interactive here on the blog. In our Historical D.C. Metro Map, we’ve re-named all the stations in the system according to historical events and sometimes quirky stories from the surrounding neighborhoods. America's Toilet, Dead Man's Hollow, Xenu's Landing... What's your stop?
When one thinks of the gambling scene in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, the likes of Al Capone, Frank Costello, and Bugsy Siegel immediately spring to mind. However, the District had its own gambling godfather — Jimmy Lafontaine. He couldn’t have been further from the American gangster archetype. Though his extralegal line of work inevitably brought him unwelcome brushes with mobsters and the law, his story is not one of bootlegged booze or mysterious murders. Rather, he’s most often remembered for his charity and reputation as Washington’s “gentleman gambler.”
In the 19th century, before chains like Macy’s and Sears-Roebuck, Washington, D.C. had Woodward & Lothrop. Known affectionately as “Woodies,” it was among the first department stores in the District, and remained the leading retailer in the city for nearly a century. It pioneered modern retailing from returns policies down to the department store choir, revolutionizing the way goods were sold and the culture of department stores.
In the summer of 1969, thousands of young people gathered together to attend a festival showcasing many of the greatest musicians of their generation. Huddled around each other in the mud, these counterculture youth engaged in a capstone event to the rebellious and liberating 1960s. This event, of course, was Maryland’s Laurel Pop Festival.
When it comes to music, Washington D.C is known as the birthplace of Go-Go, and a foundational city for Hardcore Punk. However, the city’s musical presence doesn’t end there. Perhaps less well known is D.C’s importance for American Primitive Guitar, a somewhat more obscure though nevertheless highly influential genre.
Few people in history have skipped their senior prom for the opportunity to play baseball in Hagerstown, Maryland. Few people in history have also hit 660 home runs, played in 24 All-Star games, and won 13 Gold Glove Awards. As far as we know, there’s only one who has done both.