With the flick of a switch, things got a little brighter on the National Mall tonight.
At dusk the National Park Service officially lit up the Washington Monument, which has been fully encased in aluminum scaffolding since May.
It’s part of the multi-million dollar repair job needed after the East Coast earthquake of August 2011, which caused significant damage to a number of D.C. landmarks – including our city’s first and most visible monument.
It’s often said that Washington, D.C. was built on a swamp – usually in August, when the humidity in the District is unbearable. While that’s not entirely true, the Georgetown waterfront certainly looks like one right now.
Normally floodwalls are raised to protect Washington Harbour, the restaurant and office complex on the waterfront. The modern floodwalls were part of the original construction, and have been used successfully dozens of times since they were built in 1986.
But this time, a section of the wall wasn’t raised early enough. Muddy water gushed into the Harbour complex, which is conveniently shaped like a crescent bowl.
A week later on Earth Day, the Harbour is still closed as a clean-up crew deals with the effects of Mother Nature.
Of course, this all got me thinking about historic floods in the District.
I was standing in the cold on the platform of Union Station yesterday, waiting expectantly with camera in hand for the president to arrive. The 11:21 AM train had just pulled in and was emptied of people, but its most important passenger was still on board.
A small cluster of Amtrak officials and security guards stood nearby. I recognized Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, as he walked by (such is the nature of our celebrities in the District). He was escorted into the train by National Park Service rangers to officially welcome the president to Washington.
Eventually I saw an entourage of police, officials, reporters, and photographers emerge from the car and walk toward me on the platform, all surrounding the District’s most important new resident. Finally, he came into view. The former senator from Illinois was taller than I expected, but I couldn’t yet see his face.
What I saw first was the top of his stovepipe hat.
Then I saw the long face, the hollow cheeks, the short beard. There was no mistaking it – Mr. Lincoln had arrived (again) in the District.