Statue of Limitations

One of the more interesting things for visitors to see in the Capitol is the National Statuary Hall Collection.

It consists of 100 statues placed throughout the building – two donated by each state to commemorate people who have had an impact on their state and the nation.

While most of the statues are traditional marble sculptures of the usual suspects in U.S. history, the collection has also changed with the times. Since 2000, states are allowed to even replace their statues if they so choose – which has happened three times already.

Walking through the halls of the Capitol now, there are a few statues that manage to surprise.

There are the modern – like Utah’s “Father of Television” Philo T. Farnsworth, or Colorado astronaut John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr.

Colorado’s modern statue of John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr. – an astronaut who was also elected to Congress. (Photo courtesy of Architect of the Capitol)

There are the women – like Alabama’s Helen Keller and Montana’s Jeanette Rankin.

There are the Native Americans and Pacific Islanders –  like New Mexico’s Po’pay and Hawaii’s King Kamehameha I.

And there are even the Confederates – like Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis and Virgnia’s Robert E. Lee.

But there are limits to the breadth of the official collection. So far there are no African-Americans among the 100 statues, and there are no contributions from the District of Columbia.

That could soon change, with a statue of Frederick Douglass that will be heading to the Capitol.

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To Market!

Today I visited the District’s newly opened market – Union Market, in the Northeast quadrant off of Florida Ave.

The newly opened Union Market

It’s a beautiful new space with a great mix of vendors so far, and a welcome addition to the District’s food scene.

It might not be as well known yet as Capitol Hill’s historic Eastern Market, but it has a rich history all its own.

Union Market is a descendant of what was once D.C.’s largest and most famous covered market – Center Market.

In the late 1800s, this market was truly central to the life of the city, and situated half way between the White House and the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue.

So how come you’ve probably never heard of it?

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Beertown

In the past couple of years, the District has become a veritable beertown.

DC Brau Brewery started the wave of new microbrews in the District when it opened up its brewery last year. Chocolate City Beer soon followed suit, and today 3 Stars Brewing Company officially tapped its kegs in the Takoma neighborhood.

Before DC Brau, the District had been without a local brewery since 1956. That was the year when the iconic Chr. Heurich  Brewing Co. shut its

The old Heurich Brewery on the Potomac.

doors.

It had been founded by German immigrant Christian Heurich (pronounced “Hi-rick”) in 1873 near Dupont Circle, and soon became the most successful brewery in town.

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A Special Birthday at the Smithsonian – Julia Child’s Centennial

Today is a national holiday in Italy – Ferragosto, when just about everything shuts down in the middle of August.

A fitting time to take a short break from writing about Rome, and to commemorate a special birthday being celebrated in
the District and across the US today: what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday.

To mark the occasion, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History is re-opening one of its most popular exhibits – Julia’s iconic kitchen from her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she donated to the museum in 2001.

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Capitol(ine) Hill

What better way to start the comparisons between Rome and Washington, D.C. than at the center of it all – Capitol Hill.

In Rome, it’s called the Capitoline Hill – or Capitolium in the original Latin, and Campidoglio in the modern Italian.

Ancient Rome was famously settled around seven hills. Although the Capitoline was the smallest, it was the symbolic center of the ancient city, both spiritually and politically.

On its peak was the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, dedicated to the king of the gods. And just behind it was the Forum, where all official political business took place.

A 19th Century drawing depicting the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill during the Roman Republic.

During the peak of the Roman empire, this small hill was literally the power center of the world.

So how did Washington end up with it’s very own Capitol Hill?

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From Rome with Love

So last year around this time, I was in Rome for a conference involving my day job.

The Capitoline Venus had just come to the National Gallery of Art in Washington in honor of our newly minted sister city agreement with Rome, and I was at the Capitoline Museum looking at her empty pedestal.

It seemed like the perfect opportunity to blog about the similarities between our two capitals – and it would be Historic District’s first official field trip.

Unfortunately, the day job took over, and I never got around to blogging.

Well, tempus fugit, and this month I find myself back in the Eternal City.

The difference this time is that I’m purely on vacation, and I’ve made my offering to the blog gods to keep me writing as long as I’m here.

My offering to the blog gods – do try this at home.

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