Visiting Washington DC
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
TO become well acquainted with the National Capital, and to thoroughly enjoy its many distinctive features, an extended visit is necessary. It is a spacious city, branching out in all directions, and everywhere within it are numerous objects of interest and beautiful localities which will repay careful and repeated inspection. But as hundreds of visitors are pressed for time, and yet desire to see as much as possible, and the most interesting things, a few hints and suggestions may be of service.
A good way to begin sight-seeing when limited as to time, and perhaps when not limited, is to take a carriage with an intelligent driver, or one of the many hansom cabs, and leisurely ride through the centre of the city Ś the northwest quarter. A ride like this will enable a stranger to obtain a general view of the prominent localities in a short time, and serve to fix them in the memory. The route should be taken through the central portions of Pennsylvania, Avenue, and Seventh, Ninth, and F streets, and afterward through the fashionable West End.
By riding the entire length of Connecticut Avenue from Lafayette Park to Dupont Circle, then by extending the route through George-town, up Georgetown Heights, passing Oak Hill Cemetery out on the Tennallytown Road may be seen Oak View, the residence of President Cleveland ; by such route, returning by the way of Woodley Lane through Massachusetts Avenue, much of the " palatial section" will be traversed. Again, by continuing the ride on Seventh Street, below Pennsylvania Avenue, the grounds of the Mall can be inspected, with the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum, the Department of Agriculture Building, the Bureau of Printing and En-graving, and the Washington Monument. In fact, a ride over such a route will enable one to see in rapid succession the White House, the Treasury Building, all the department buildings, and many of the finest churches, mansions, institutions, parks, squares and circles, and business structures. Afterwardthe ride might be continued to the Capitol and through its grounds, and then down East Capitol Street as far as the statue of Emancipation, returning by way of North Carolina and Pennsylvania avenues. A good view of Capitol Hill can thus be obtained.
The Capitol should be thoroughly inspected, even if other objects of interest are slighted. It is the grandest edifice in America, and in many particulars in the world No picture can do it justice ; no hasty inspection will reveal its manifold wonders. The time taken to carefully examine its massive and splendid architectural features, and its interesting special departments, will be well spent, and the intimate knowledge gained will be much appreciated afterward. The Halls of Congress should be closely studied, and if an opportunity is afforded to attend a night-session of Congress, it should be improved. By no means fail to ascend the dome of the Capitol, even if it does require rather severe exercise. A guide can be profitably employed in the building, as it is one to easily " get lost" in.
The White House is open to visitors from 10 A. M. to 2 P. M., every week-day. The East Room can be entered at any time during these hours, and at short intervals an attendant escorts visitors through the other state parlors. The President is usually " at home" to those who desire to pay their respects to him, but being a man of many important affairs, he frequently keeps his visitors waiting for an hour or two before he can receive them. While calling on him it would be well to bear in mind the old adage about " short visits."
The department buildings are all open to visitors from 9 A. M. to 4. P. M. The State, War, and Navy Building has innumerable finely furnished apartments, but few objects of special interest. When a visitor has walked through one long corridor, and looked into two or three of the apartments, particularly those occupied by the Department of State, and taken perhaps a glance at some of the ancient historical documents in this department, the building will be done " well enough for ordinary, hasty sight-seeing. Of course if a visitor has plenty of time an entire day might be spent in this great building, and the luxurious appointments of the three departments carefully inspected. In the Treasury Building the cash-room, the money-vaults, the counting division, and the Secret Service office, are about all the places worth paying much attention to. In the Patent Office the Model Museum, and in the Post-Office Department the Dead-Letter Office, are of interest, but the remainder of these buildings can be very quickly disposed of. The National Museum should be thoroughly examined, as it is a great " world's fair," and full of attractions. The museum in the Department of Agriculture, and the Army Medical Museum are replete with interest. An hour or two may be agreeably spent in the Government Printing-Office, and in the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, where the government currency is printed. Visitors will find the department employes very courteous as a rule, and there need be no hesitation in applying to those stationed in the corridors of the buildings for information, as in most cases it is part of their duty to attend to persons seeking information.
A spot which is of great interest to visitors is the new Garfield Circle, where the Garfield Monument is located, at the intersection of Maryland Avenue and First Street, west of the Capitol, and ad-joining the Capitol grounds. It was erected by the members of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, on May 12th, 1887. It represents Garfield standing, and in the act of delivering his in-augural address as President of the United States. The statue is cast in bronze, and stands upon a circular pedestal of granite. At the base of the pedestal are three bronze figures, each in a reclining position. One of these figures represents a student, one a warrior, and the other a statesman, each being typical of the three important stages in Garfield's life. The granite pedestal is inscribed upon three sides with suitable inscriptions, and the whole monument is one of the most tasteful and pleasing in the city. It cost $65,000.
The Navy Yard is open daily from nine to four. Visitors, by applying at the office of the commodore in charge of the yard, can obtain a permit to inspect the naval museum, the monitors and ships of war, and the great work-shops. The cars of the Washington and Georgetown street railroad, and the herdics running on Pennsylvania Avenue, will convey visitors directly to the Navy Yard entrance.
The Marine Barracks and the United States Barracks are open to public inspection every day. The cars of the Seventh Street line go to the entrance to the grounds of the United States Barracks.
In the Smithsonian Institution will be found many curious and interesting objects. The institution is open daily from nine to four, and its collections of natural history can be freely inspected.
Persons are frequently allowed to ascend to the top of the Washington Monument. Application for a permit should be made to the official in charge of the monument. The view from the top is exceedingly beautiful.
The best time to visit the great Center Market is early in the morning, or on Saturday evening. The Northern Liberty Market is also worth a visit.
On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays there is no charge for admission to the Corcoran Gallery of Art. On other days tickets of admission are twenty-five cents. The gallery is open from 10 A. M. to4P.M.
It will be necessary to take a carriage to the Soldiers' Home, and to the Arlington Military Cemetery, as there are no regular conveyances. They can both be visited in a morning's ride, and ought to be included in the list of things worth seeing. On the way to the Soldiers' Home an inspection can be made of Howard University, and on the way to Arlington the Georgetown College and Oak Hill Cemetery can be inspected.
The Government Hospital for the Insane is open to visitors only on Wednesdays from 2 to 6 P. M. A private conveyance will be necessary.
No one should leave Washington without visiting Mount Vernon. The steamboat leaves the wharf, foot of Seventh Street, every morning at 10 o'clock, and returns to the city at 3.30. The fare is one dollar, which includes admission to the grounds and mansion. Visitors have little more than two hours in which to inspect this most famous of America's historic treasures.
The fare in the street cars and the herdics is five cents, or six tickets for twenty-five cents. Cab rates are, by the trip, fifteen blocks or less, each passenger, between 5 A. M. and 12.30 noon, twenty-five cents; between 12.30 noon and 5 A. M., forty cents. By the hour, for one or two passengers, between 5 A. M. and 12.30 noon, seventy-five cents; between 12.30 noon and 5 A. M., $1.00; and hack rates are nearly the same. Special rates are made for excursions.
The city post-office is located on Louisiana Avenue, near Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh Street. The money-order office is in the second story.
The three regular theatres, Albaugh's Grand Opera House, the New National Theatre, and Harris' Bijou Opera House, furnish excellent entertainments during the dramatic season. They are con-ducted in a first-class manner.
There are many hotels in the city, and visitors can easily suit themselves as to prices, etc. Persons intending to remain for several weeks can secure pleasant rooms in private families, with or without board, at reasonable prices. There are many good restaurants throughout the centre of the city.
Washington is a progressive city, and is continuing to have a great development, with every promise of still greater prosperity. It will develop in art, in taste, in business facilities, and in all those things which make a city really prosperous and delightful. Beautiful and attractive as it is at present, its beauty and attractions are likely to be greatly enhanced. No one is jealous of its growth and increasing prosperityŚno one would stay its progress; for it is the Nation's city and reflects the grandeur and importance of the American people.