Baltimore & Washington, D.C.

Discussion in 'Travel Stories' started by giradman, Jul 18, 2018.

  1. giradman

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    Baltimore & Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

    Susan and I attended a nephew's wedding in Catonsville, MD near Baltimore a few days ago - we took a non-stop flight to D.C.'s National Airport, rented a car and drove to the Baltimore area for several nights - I've been to Baltimore many times and have seen all of the historic sites EXCEPT Ft. McHenry - so before checking into our hotel, we visited the fort.

    Ft. McHenry is most famous for defending Baltimore in the War of 1812 - the British planned a combined land and sea attack to take the city (see battle map below); the land attempt was repulsed and the naval bombardment a failure - the British did not want to move their ships close to Ft. McHenry in fear of the guns and 'hot shot', so they simply left and Baltimore was saved. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer, was aboard a ship and on the morning of September 14, 1814, saw the newly raised garrison flag (15 stars & 15 stripes) still standing, and inspiring the words that became 'The Star Spangled Banner', the USA's national anthem - see quotes below and link for more information.

    Pics below (first few from the web the rest are mine) show the fort, the new visitor's center (opened in 2011), and the fort - some of the cannons are post-1812 - after the wedding, we returned the car and then came into D.C. for 4 nights staying at the historic Willard Hotel - yesterday, we saw the restored 'Star Spangled Banner' flag - more on the flag and on what we did in D.C. in following posts. Dave :)

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  2. scifan57

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    Is the flag the same size as the one that inspired Francis Scott Key?
     
  3. giradman

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    Hi Scifan.. - well, yes & no! Just returned from our third day in D.C. - about to go to dinner but was planning to post on the flag next - will do after dinner; the story is interesting. Dave :)
     
  4. giradman

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    Star Spangled Banner Flag - Restoration and Display

    The early American flags have a complicated history, i.e. as states were admitted to the Union, both stars and stripes were added (the latter discontinued) - in 1792, Kentucky was admitted as the 15th state and the official USA flag had 15 stars & stripes - this flag lasted through the Presidency of James Monroe (ending in 1825) - SO, despite that 18 states were in the Union in 1814, the official flag is shown in the first pic below (see quotes & links for more information, if interested).

    On September 14, 1814 after the British bombardment of Ft. McHenry, the official flag of the USA was raised which measured 30 x 42 ft - this is the flag seen by Francis Scott Key; after the battle, portions of the flag were 'given away' (mainly the stripes + one star, so the flag shrunk to 30 x 34 ft. Before this current visit, the last time I saw the flag in the National Museum of American History, the appearance was as shown in the second image below, i.e. in poor condition w/ the missing stripes added to simulate the original size.

    In 1999, a multi-phase restoration was started on the flag which lasted nearly 10 years and at a cost of 21+ million dollars (2 pics below of the restorers working - description in the first link). In 2008, the flag was put back on display in a special exhibit area (last pic) which we visited yesterday - more on this fantastic museum in an upcoming post. Also, the video provides more details on the restoration and the current display. Dave :)

    P.S. the flag flying the day we visited in my previous pics was a replica of the 30 x 42 ft 15 star & 15 stripes one.



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    #4 giradman, Jul 18, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  5. giradman

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    Willard Hotel

    My favorite hotel in D.C. is the Willard Intercontinental because of its great location (see map) and historic significance - see quotes below; the 'hotel' started modestly as a half dozen houses in 1816 and had multiple 're-incarnations', including potential demolition, until being restored multiple times after a disastrous 1922 fine. The hotel has hosted many famous people from all professions over nearly two centuries; some of the guests/visitors included: P.T. Barnum, Calvin Coolidge, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Duke of Windsor, Bob Fosse, Harry Houdini, Ulysses S. Grant, Julia Ward Howe, Jenny Lind, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Samuel Morse, John Pershing, Gloria Swanson, Mark Twain, and Walt Whitman (see link for more).

    The map shows the location of the hotel (the blue dot is my Wi-Fi spot in my room) - we are up on the 8th floor - pics of the entrance, lobby, Peacock Alley (leads to F Street and a few blocks from Metro Central), and the famed Round Robin Bar w/ pics of many famous visitors (see last quote below) - presumably Henry Clay (18th century Kentucky senator mixed the first Mint Julep there, which is now the signature drink - we had drinks there after dinner each night of our stay but did not try the Clay specialty); also, a pic from the early 20th century, but not sure of the year. Subsequent posts will describe some of the places we visited on this trip and possibly on previous ones - I lived in the area for 3 months in the mid-1970s (attended the AFIP as part of my residency training) and have return many times. Dave :)

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  6. giradman

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    Willard Hotel - OOPS, I forgot to include pics of the current outside of the place - see below:

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    #6 giradman, Jul 19, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
  7. giradman

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    Smithsonian Institution

    Washington, D.C. has many attractions, but the Smithsonian Institution is a MAJOR one along with the Monuments, Memorials, White House, Government buildings, and Arlington Cemetery; also, there are non-governmental commercial museums, such as the Newseum & Spy Museum - the Smithsonian buildings are free, while admission fees may be charged at the others mentioned. More history and descriptions are quoted below.

    Over the decades that we've visited D.C. numerous times, I have been to virtually all of these museums, monuments and memorials, some many times, such as the National Gallery of Art (and its East Wing) - this trip, we had 3 days but relaxed in the hotel in the mornings and then lunched and visited selective attractions in the afternoon (days were hot and we've aged), which I'll describe in upcoming posts - there are 11 of the 19 museums and galleries on the National Mall - these are huge places that one could easily spend an entire day (or two) exploring, so for those reading this post and planning their first visit to the Smithsonian attractions, allot plenty of time, i.e. days.

    The one and the newest museum that we really wanted to see is the National Museum of African American History and Culture (last 2 pics below), but only online 'time slots' were needed for admission (all were out on our time in D.C. - walk-ins were minimal) - SO, we did not get to visit this attraction - will need to return. One of the first buildings on the mall is known as the Castle, a beautiful ornate structure w/ gorgeous surrounding gardens (a few pics below). Dave :)

    P.S. the maps below show the many museums, memorials, galleries and their locations.

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  8. giradman

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    Newseum

    The Newseum is located on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Capitol (see first pics below + mine from the observation deck) - an impressive 7-level structure w/ unique architecture of stairs and elevators. The concept of the museum is described in the quotes below - there are over a dozen galleries (ten listed below) and numerous theaters - this is our second visit and we've still not taken in the full extent of the exhibits and videos - several days could easily be consumed at this fascinating attraction.

    Now, the Newseum is not part of the Smithsonian collection and a steep admission fee is charge (we paid a total of $38 w/ Senior & AAA discounts); despite the fees (which contribute little to running the complex), the museum has been in financial difficulty (see 2nd quote below) and could close and/or re-locate - however, for those visiting D.C. soon, the museum is highly recommended. Also, we lunched in their lower level cafeteria which was excellent. Pics below of the building and just a few of the listed galleries. Dave :)
    • 9/11 Gallery (Sponsored by Comcast)
    • Berlin Wall Gallery
    • Cox Enterprises First Amendment Gallery
    • FBI Exhibit
    • Journalists Memorial
    • News Corporation News History Gallery
    • NBC News Interactive Newsroom
    • Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery
    • Time Warner World News Gallery
    • Today’s Front Pages Gallery

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  9. suenc

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    Unfortunately it was daytime, so we didn’t get to see the “rockets’ red glare”
     
  10. suenc

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