First of all I've found the name "Foggy Bottom" quite funny. I had to cross this surprisingly sunny, not foggy Washington's neighbourhood, on foot because their wealthier, good and friendly neighbours from Georgetown had refused both districts linked up by metro line.
MY LITTLE SURPRISE
So, being amusing on holiday and walking along loong streets I looked around and... my first surprise was that I saw many more human faces on sidewalks than car bodies on roads. In most US cities I had visited before it worked quite opposite.
Then I saw quite many young people, mostly dressed a bit formally and being in a hurry. Add small groups of young people gathering and busy studying, discussing something, making notes or sitting on a bench and using those smart half-laptop size (or double palmtop size) computers which were not yet that popular in Poland that time. Were they Yuppies or future Yuppies from nearby George Washington University? Middle-age and older generation tended to dress up even when they went out only to walk their fancy dogs. This picture of Foggy Bottom street before the evening wouldn't be complete if I didn't add some unusual human beings showing off and looking strange, unusual, artisty etc. which might have shocked some visitors. Add 2 badly and poorly looking guys in a backstreet who proudly presented me the writings hang on their chests: work for food.
I was not surprised to see each house in a row along a street diffirent in style. It's an American street, not "well-ordered" European one. But after seeing all those gigantic office buildings in downtown it was very refreshing to see smaller houses including some pretty and modern ones (open my next pictures).
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
"I hope you're all Republicans"
By coincidence I passed by Georgtown University Hospital (3800 Reservoir Road, NW) where U.S. President Ronald Reagan underwent serious surgery on his chest after assassination attempt outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981.
Reagan turned what could have been a low point in his first 100 days into another high point by joking, "I hope you're all Republicans," to his surgeons (while they were not, he received the reply, "We're all Republicans today" from Dr. Joseph Giordano) and "Honey, I forgot to duck" to his wife. Reagan also said that he forgave Hinckley, who shot him, and hoped he would ask for God's forgiveness as well.
I could not have remembered that event unless I had seen the large sign on the hospital wall: "Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine." As I got to know the Reagan Institute is completing the final phase of a multi-year program to develop health care training center in my country, Poland.
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
St Stephen Martyr Church
Citizens of the oldest and upclass neighbourhood of Georgetown were so worried about their fancy streets that they succesfully resisted the plan to prolong metro line to their wealthy district. Thanks to their persistance I had to take longer walk and see also the other district called Foggy Bottom where I entered St. Stephen Martyr Roman catholic church (2436 Pennsylvania Ave NW; corner 25th St. NW), not because I was religious but just to see something new.
The holy mass inside the modern church edifice was about to end. There were only a few surprisingly young prayers. Well, it's the parish of nearby George Washington University.
As soon as the service ended the priest approached me and gently asked where I was from. When he got to know that I was from a country of pope John Paul II he wanted to invite me for a chat and show me pictures from his meeting with the pope during his visit in the USA. Being a bit in a hurry I had to politely refuse. Well, we had a few minute interesting chat.
- Hiking and Walking
- Religious Travel
The Exorcist & Those Creepy Stairs
The 1973 film "The Exorcist" was filmed here in Georgetown using several local scenes including a few buildings on Georgetown University's campus and a house on Prospect Street. The most famous location is the dark set of stairs squished between the old Car Barn and a huge stone wall near the Exxon Station.
The Exorcist was written and produced by William Peter Blatty, who graduated from Georgetown University. The story is supposedly based on a 1949 exorcism Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown. In the book and movie the possessed girl lives in the house above the steps, and one horrific scene takes place on these very steps. Even though the book was a work of fiction, many people still claim the steps are haunted.
They steps are attached to the Car Barn that was constructed in 1897, so the steps probably date back to this same approximate time.
The Georgetown Car Barn
Other than the towers of Georgetown University, perhaps the most distinct building in town is the old Georetown Car Barn. The site of the Georgetown Car Barn was a tobacco warehouse built in 1761. Around the time of the Civil War, this same facility was named the car barn because it was used to house the city's horses and horse-drawn trolley cars.
The present facility was envisioned as "A Union Station For The Use Of All Roads That Might Terminate At That Point." It was authorized in 1894, construction began in 1895, and the facility was in use by 1897. The three story building was well designed as the meeting place for numerous rail lines: the first floor for the Washington and Georgetown trolleys that used M Street, the second and third floors for trains from Virginia crossing the Potomac from Rosslyn, and the roof was designated for the Metropolitan Railroad. The building contained waiting rooms, offices, and maintenance and storage facilities for the various trains, as well as elevators connecting the floors. Unfortunately, the only rail transportation that ever used the building was the city's M Street Trolley Line, whose tracks are still visible coming out of the building's large doors. The building was continually used for this purpose until 1956 when it was saved from demolition and renovated.
Today the Car Barn is used for the Georgetown University MBA program, and it is home to the spooky Exorcist Steps.
Georgetown University's Heyden Observatory
The Heyden "Astronomical Observatory" was completed around 1843 or1844. In its earliest days, it was used for weather reports and to determine the exact latitude and longitude of important buildings and other Washington, DC locations. In 1888 the 12 inch telescope was installed which is still in use today.
In the 1970s the astronomy department was closed, and the building classrooms were used for biology labs. In 1972, however, a physics professor founded the Georgetown University Astronomical Society, and in 1973 the observatory was designated a national historical landmark.
Holy Trinity Cathloic Church & St. Ignatius Chapel
Holy Trinity Church and St. Ignatius Chapel are part of the same church and are located on the same block near the university in Georgetown. The chapel is a beautiful white building with a square tower leading up tot an octagonal belfry. The original church here was founded by Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in America and a cousin of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Archbishop Carroll also established Georgetown University in 1789.
The Chapel of St. Ignatius is known as the first Roman Catholic house of worship to existing the area that is now Washington DC. It was established in 1794 just before the capitol city was established, and it is the oldest church in continuous operation in Washington. The chapel was expanded in 1870 and converted to a school; it was not until 1999 that the chapel was restored to nearly its original design.
Holy Trinity's main church was built from 1849 to 1851 in an unusual Greco-Roman style. It was later used as a hospital during the Civil War, and it is now famous as Kennedy's local church while he was a member of the House of Representatives and during his time as a Senator. This is also where he attended his last mass in the city before his assassination in 1963.
It is also said that Vice President Joe Biden occasionally attends church services here.
Georgetown's other canal - the Alexandria Canal
While the C&O Canal was being built in Georgetown, neighboring Alexandria, a huge port city, was feeling the economic pinch. While most regional cargo had previously used Alexandria's port, now cargo was continuing upriver to the C&O canal so it could be shipped farther into Maryland. The solution was the Alexandria Canal.
This seven mile canal that connected Alexandria to the C&O Canal in Georgetown. It was built in 1843 and remained in operation until 1886. It included four locks to raise and lower ships 38 feet for this short journey.
The most impressive structure on this journey was the Aquaduct Bridge that spanned the Potomac between Georgetown and Rosslyn. This bridge, an engineering feat of its day, actually carried the Alexandria Canal over the Potomac River. It was constructed with eight huge stone piers that carried the canal, roadway bridge, and a roadway-only iron truss bridge. Between the piers, the canal itself was a suspended trough made of wood.
Today very few elements of the old Alexandria Canal are still visible. The most obvious is the end of the Aqueduct Bridge in Georgetown next to the boathouse; where the water used to sit is now grass. The last pier on the Virginia side of the Potomac is also visible near the base of the Key Bridge. Finally, in Alexandria, you can find the restored tidal lock, the last lock where the canal emptied into the Potomac.
Dumbarton Oaks, Montrose Park, Oak Hill Cemetery
Dumbarton Oaks, Montrose Park and Oak Hill Cemetery are side by side parks that separate the upper reaches of Georgetown from Embassy Row and DuPont Circle.
Dumbarton Oaks mansion was constructed in 1800 and was later the home of U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, Secretary of Ear, Vice President, and secessionist John C. Calhoun from South Carolina. From the 1920s to the 1940s the ten acres of formal gardens were created. In 1940 the house owners donated the ground and collection of historical artifacts and books to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection managed by Harvard University. Dumbarton Oaks might be most famous for the 1944 conference that laid the groundwork for the United Nations. The house is surrounded by a 27-acre park called Dumbarton Park.
Montrose Park lies between Dumbarton Oaks and Oak Hill Cemetery. It was created in 1911 from land owned by a man who made his fortune in the rope making business, Robert Parrott.
Oak Hill Cemetery is a 22 acre cemetery and park on the edge of Rock Creek Park. The cemetery was created in 1848, and its famous chapel was built in 1849 by the same architect who designed the Smithsonian Institution's "Castle" on the National Mall. The cemetery is the final resting place of numerous Senators and Representatives in Congress.