Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Exploring DC

Sunday, September 2nd 2007:

Another day of exploration, this time in Washington, DC where we stumble upon some historic sites just wandering around, such as the Ford Theatre and the house where Lincoln died. Real coincidence since we were at Gettysburg the day before.

We also discover that the Bethesda Cinema Row has a sibling downtown, the E Street Cinema, with a Gifford's just next door as well.

This is a cool area known at the Navy Yard Memorial, with the globe designed on the concrete and bronze reliefs around the perimeter.

We decided to delve into more history by visiting the National Archives just across the street, which displays the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution for the public. We saw National Treasure with Nicholas Cage, so we had some idea of what to expect. But in the movie, the place was rather bright inside. Nope, in actuality, the lights have to be dim to reduce the amount of UV rays that will affect the non-archival paper and ink used for these extremely important documents.

The image on the left is more representative of what it looks like in the area of these historical documents. The right is more like what the movie portrays.

Anxiously waiting in line, with the security guard stressing that no flash or video light be used anywhere near the documents. She was very frustrated, because there were people who just didn't or weren't listening to her way back in the line.

The U.S. Constitution:

The Declaration of Independence:

The faded signatures:

The next group of visitors:

It's definitely unfortunate how faded and fragile these historic documents are, but I think it's amazing that we actually get to see them and be just inches from them.

We then venture into the new permanent collection called The Public Vaults, which taken from the website, "display at any given time about 1,100 records-originals or facsimiles of documents, photographs, maps, drawings, film or audio clips, allowing you to see the raw materials of our American democracy. Documents range from important treaties and legislation dealing with grave matters of state to snippets of the fascinating stories of individual citizens such as letters to the President and citations for military bravery."

Here are some photos of those items:

The space section...

Look at the end of entry #2

A fun interactive section, where you are given clues and have to guess what the item is

The best letter we saw there, at least from the few we read:

Because the weather outside was gorgeous, we ran through the exhibit relatively fast, but I plan to go back and look at this as well as other exhibits they have. It's so fascinating.

We walked across the street and relaxed in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden and Ice Rink, which held a large fountain instead of a rink. That's the front of the National Archives on the right, with Brian's pretzel in the foreground. We also had a tuna wrap to help with the hunger.

The flower on my right side as we sat.

We did some more exploring, moving away from the mall, but found ourselves alone and amidst large government/institutional buildings. Not much around nor people around at all. Granted it was a holiday weekend, but it felt very foreign for being in a city.

We did walk to Dupont Circle where we finally got a neighborhood feel or at least some place with personality and with people. It was getting late, and my barely supported feet were getting tired, so after walking up the hill and back down again, Dupont Circle was as far as we got. Looks like a fun place worth visiting again...

and that concludes our DC exploration for that day.

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