Washington D.C. History - the history of Washington D.C.
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Vacation 2 USA   >   Washington D.C.   >   History
Vacation 2 USA   >   History   >   Washington D.C. History


Washington D.C. History

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Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, DC

By J.D. Dickey

Released: 2015-11-01
Paperback (320 pages)

Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, DC
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Washington, DC, gleams with stately columns and neoclassical temples, a pulsing hub of political power and prowess. But for decades it was one of the worst excuses for a capital city the world had ever seen. Before America became a world power in the twentieth century, Washington City was an eyesore at best and a disgrace at worst. Unfilled swamps, filthy canals, and rutted horse trails littered its landscape. Political bosses hired hooligans and thugs to conduct the nation's affairs. Legendary madams entertained clients from all stations of society and politicians of every party. The police served and protected with the aid of bribes and protection money. Beneath pestilential air, the city’s muddy roads led to a stumpy, half-finished obelisk to Washington here, a domeless Capitol Building there. Lining the streets stood boarding houses, tanneries, and slums. Deadly horse races gouged dusty streets, and opposing factions of volunteer firefighters battled one another like violent gangs rather than life-saving heroes. The city’s turbulent history set a precedent for the dishonesty, corruption, and mismanagement that have led generations to look suspiciously on the various sin--both real and imagined--of Washington politicians. Empire of Mud unearths and untangles the roots of our capital’s story and explores how the city was tainted from the outset, nearly stifled from becoming the proud citadel of the republic that George Washington and Pierre L'Enfant envisioned more than two centuries ago.

Washington: A History of Our National City

By Tom Lewis

Basic Books
Released: 2015-10-13
Hardcover (560 pages)

Washington: A History of Our National City
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On January 24, 1791, President George Washington chose the site for the young nation's capital: ten miles square, it stretched from the highest point of navigation on the Potomac River, and encompassed the ports of Georgetown and Alexandria. From the moment the federal government moved to the District of Columbia in December 1800, Washington has been central to American identity and life. Shaped by politics and intrigue, poverty and largess, contradictions and compromises, Washington has been, from its beginnings, the stage on which our national dramas have played out.

In Washington, the historian Tom Lewis paints a sweeping portrait of the capital city whose internal conflicts and promise have mirrored those of America writ large. Breathing life into the men and women who struggled to help the city realize its full potential, he introduces us to the mercurial French artist who created an ornate plan for the city “en grande”; members of the nearly forgotten anti-Catholic political party who halted construction of the Washington monument for a quarter century; and the cadre of congressmen who maintained segregation and blocked the city's progress for decades. In the twentieth century Washington's Mall and streets would witness a Ku Klux Klan march, the violent end to the encampment of World War I “Bonus Army” veterans, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the painful rebuilding of the city in the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.

“It is our national center,” Frederick Douglass once said of Washington, DC; “it belongs to us, and whether it is mean or majestic, whether arrayed in glory or covered in shame, we cannot but share its character and its destiny.” Interweaving the story of the city's physical transformation with a nuanced account of its political, economic, and social evolution, Lewis tells the powerful history of Washington, DC—the site of our nation's highest ideals and some of our deepest failures.

A History Lover's Guide to Washington, D.C.: Designed for Democracy (History & Guide)

By Alison Fortier

The History Press
Released: 2014-05-06
Paperback (240 pages)

A History Lover s Guide to Washington, D.C.: Designed for Democracy (History & Guide)
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This tour of the nation's capital goes beyond the traditional guidebook to offer a historical journey through the federal district. Visit the White House, the only executive home in the world regularly open to the public. Travel to President Lincoln's Cottage and see where he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Look around lesser-known sites, such as the grave of Pierre L'Enfant, the city's Botanical Gardens, the Old Post Office and a host of historical homes throughout the capital. From George Washington's Mount Vernon to the Kennedy Center, trek through each era of Washington, D.C., for a tour of America's most beloved sites. Join author and Washington insider Alison Fortier as she carefully curates an expedition to our shining city on a hill.

Washington D.C. From A-Z

By Alan Schroeder

Holiday House
Released: 2018-02-20
Hardcover (32 pages)

Washington D.C. From A-Z
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See our nation's capital like never before!

In almost 100 entries from A to Z discover little-known lore, hidden history, and quotable quotes about Washington D.C.

Throughout the book, humorous full-color cartoons enhance the funny, strange, and intriguing details behind important landmarks and the people who have come to the capital to run the nation’s business, celebrate, protest, live in the thick of it or just visit.

From the aluminum tip of the towering Washington Monument to the marble bathtubs in the Capital building’s basement, this book offers a top to bottom look at Washington D.C. and its eclectic history that will enchant visitors and locals alike.

The end papers feature a comprehensive map of the District showing locations of key buildings including The White House, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and The Capitol building as well as many other important locations.

A Junior Library Guild selection!

Spy Sites of Washington, DC: A Guide to the Capital Region's Secret History

By Robert Wallace

Georgetown University Press
Paperback (320 pages)

Spy Sites of Washington, DC: A Guide to the Capital Region s Secret History
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Washington, DC, stands at the epicenter of world espionage. Mapping this history from the halls of government to tranquil suburban neighborhoods reveals scores
of dead drops, covert meeting places, and secret facilities ― a constellation of
clandestine sites unknown to even the most avid history buffs. Until now.

Spy Sites of Washington, DC traces more than two centuries of secret history from the Mount Vernon study of spymaster George Washington to the Cleveland Park apartment of the "Queen of Cuba." In 220 main entries as well as listings for dozens more spy sites, intelligence historians Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton weave incredible true stories of derring-do and double-crosses that put even the best spy fiction to shame. Maps and more than three hundred photos allow readers to follow in the winding footsteps of moles and sleuths, trace the covert operations that influenced wars hot and cold, and understand the tradecraft traitors and spies alike used in the do-or-die chess games that have changed the course of history.

Informing and entertaining, Spy Sites of Washington, DC is the comprehensive guidebook to the shadow history of our nation's capital.

Old Washington, D.C. in Early Photographs, 1846-1932

By Robert Reed

Dover Publications
Released: 1980-04-01
Paperback (176 pages)

Old Washington, D.C. in Early Photographs, 1846-1932
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The rise and growth of Washington, D. C., in the nineteenth century closely paralleled the invention and development of photography — a felicitous circumstance that made possible this valuable photographic record of the early years of the nation's capital. Culled from the archives of the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, Columbia Historical Society, and other sources, these 224 rare prints (including works by such Victorian-era cameramen as Brady, Bishop, Plumbe, Hiller, Peale, et al.) constitute a vivid and enduring record of a city in progress — from sparsely settled provincial southern town to majestic seat of national power and influence.
In spite of their vintage (over half are pre-1900; the earliest a striking 1846 daguerreotype of the Capitol under construction), these priceless views retain an undiminished precision and clarity of detail that brings old Washington into sharp focus — timeless reminders of how a city and its people looked as a metropolis of pomp and power grew up about them. From the slums of Purdy Court to the turreted mansions of Dupont Circle, from the massive marble monuments of "Federal" Washington, to the humble shops and saloons of 7th Street, these rare pictures recall places and events steeped in meaning for a nation and its citizens: Lincoln's first inauguration (1861); Ford̍'s Theater draped in mourning (1865); Grand Review of the Union Army (1865); Old Willard Hotel (housed Nathaniel Hawthorne, Lincoln, Grant, Tyler, Pierce); portrait of Frederick Douglass and family (1885); homes of Dolley Madison and Francis Scott Key; Women’s Suffrage Parade (1913); and many other historic, social, and geographic landmarks.
This rich gallery of contemporary views also reveals nineteenth-century Washington as a showplace of architectural styles (Gothic Revival, Romanesque, Classical, Italian Renaissance, Victorian, etc.) employed to stunning effect by the master builders of the age: James Renwick (Smithsonian, Corcoran Gallery of Art); Benjamin Latrobe and Charles Bulfinch (Capitol); Robert Mills (Old Post Office, Patent Office, Treasury Building); Andrew Jackson Downing (Francis Dodge House); Henry Hobson Richardson (Henry Adams House), and many others.
Side by side with its architectural splendor, the mundane life of the city is recaptured in remarkable images of an era when beer was a nickel a bottle and cows still grazed within sight of the Capitol. Here are turn-of-the-century schoolchildren admiring the newly opened Library of Congress; summer crowds mingling on the White House lawn in the administration of Chester Arthur; an Easter Monday egg-roll in 1898; Marine Band concerts; idyllic outings at Rock Creek Park; bone-shaking rides on a velocipede; parades, celebrations, inaugurations, and many other vignettes of people, neighborhoods, and daily life.
The photos are arranged in an east-to-west geographic sequence (Capitol Hill to Georgetown) that roughly parallels the historic development of the city. Robert Reed has provided an informative introduction and captions, enhancing the unique and irreplaceable value of this collection. Historians, photographers, architects, visitors — anyone interested in the process by which a muddy village on the banks of the Potomac became one of the great capitals of the world — will want to have this book.

The Evolution of Washington, DC: Historical Selections from the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection at the George Washington University

By James M. Goode

Smithsonian Books
Released: 2015-03-17
Hardcover (192 pages)

The Evolution of Washington, DC: Historical Selections from the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection at the George Washington University
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The Evolution of Washington, DC is a striking volume featuring select pieces of the extraordinary collection of Washingtoniana donated by Albert H. Small to the George Washington University in 2011. It showcases treasures such as an 1860 lithograph of the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in front of the White House and a contemporary print of old Potomac River steamboats. Other unique pieces include early designs for the White House, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument as well as presidential portraits and Civil War memorabilia. Each object--from architectural plans and topographical maps to letters and advertisements--tells a fascinating story, and together they illustrate the history of our nation's capital and indeed our nation itself.

Washington, D.C.: A Pictorial Celebration

By Jeanne Fogle Lyons

Hardcover (160 pages)

Washington, D.C.: A Pictorial Celebration
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Jeanne Fogle Lyons—a historian, professor, and certified tour guide in Washington—and Elan Penn, the gifted photographer who created the superb From Sea to Shining Sea, combine their talents to create a breathtaking and fascinating homage to America’s capital city.

Lavish images of fabled monuments, world-famous museums, distinguished universities, and lush parks—all accompanied by fascinating background information—pay tribute to the beauty and history of Washington, D.C. From government buildings such as the Capitol, White House, and Supreme Court to outdoor statues of Ulysses S. Grant, Mary Leo Bethune, and Mahatma Gandhi, this unique visual tour captures the city’s riches as never before. Visit Mount Vernon, George Washington’s splendid home and plantation; the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial; the Arlington National Cemetery, where the eternal flame burns over John F. Kennedy’s grave; and the Smithsonian, which protects the glories of our past. Watch government at work at the Federal Triangle Department Buildings, see the lovely sculpture garden at the National Gallery, and feel the magnificence of sacred structures such as St. John’s of Lafayette Square. Every photo, from Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln lost his life, to Maya Lin’s heartbreaking Vietnam Memorial, is inspirational.

District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC

Fulcrum Publishing
Paperback (256 pages)

District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC
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District Comics is a graphic anthology featuring lesser-known stories about Washington, DC, from its earliest days as a rustic settlement along the swampy banks of the Potomac to the modern-day metropolis. Spanning 1794–2009, District Comics stops along the way for a duel, a drink in the Senate’s speakeasy, a look into the punk scene, and much more.

Washington, D.C. Then and Now®

By Alexander D. Mitchell IV

Released: 2016-10-01
Hardcover (144 pages)

Washington, D.C. Then and Now®
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  • Pavilion Books
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Washington, D.C. Then and Now presents a fascinating portrait of the evolution and history of the city since the dawn of photography in the mid-nineteenth century. It pairs vintage black-and-white photographs—including those of pioneers of American and commercial photography such as John Plumbe and Mathew Brady—with splendid color photographs taken from the same vantage points today. The book includes all the tourist must-see places of the capital city. Sites include, the Capitol, White House, Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Treasury Building, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Smithsonian Museum, Union Station, Ford's Theatre, Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, Folger Shakespeare Library, Old Post Office and the offices that Mark Twain described as "the ugliest building in America."It also features some breathtaking vintage panoramas taken from the Washington Monument showing the nascent capital in glorious detail.

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