After New York, Washington DC left me wondering where all the people were.
A large number appeared to have been turned into statues and monuments. The short time I was there provided a crash-course in American political history.
After my meeting with Jim, I headed to the National Mall and visited The National Archives Building for the Big Three (the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence).
Apparently a 20-minute wait to see the Rotunda at 4pm on a week day is “usual”. Blimey, these people are patriotic.
It was interesting to note a bunch of spelling mistakes particularly in the Constitution. Then again, considering it was written hastily following the Convention, and by hand, it’s no wonder Jacob Shallus dropped a few letters and added an extra apostrophe. He was essentially breaking news, right?
Speaking of news, I spent two afternoons at the Newseum and seriously thought about returning for a third day.
Located on historic Pennsylvania Avenue, it also provided the best view I had of the city. (No, I was not organised enough to book Washington Monument tickets six months ahead).
Given that the United States was the first country in the history of the world to acknowledge the right to press freedom in its constitution (following the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791), there was a focus on watchdog journalism.
It chartered the dramatic changes in not only the format of news coverage but also the public’s relationship with the industry. During the Vietnam War, for example, television news was one of the country’s most trusted institutions. Oh, how times have changed.
I’d heard of William “Bill” Biggart, the freelance photojournalist who died while photographing the collapse of the World Trade Center’s North Tower on September 11, 2001. It was rather eerie seeing the gear he was carrying, along with artifacts from other victims, on display behind glass.
I managed to get around other local attractions: The White House, Lincoln Memorial, and so on. (Thanks to a friend of importance, I also had a personal tour of the Pentagon.)
As well as some not-so-local sights: Andrews Air Force base, a Baltimore Orioles game at Camden Yards, Manassas National Battlefield Park, and Annapolis.
On my final afternoon, while exploring the quirky cafes and clothing boutiques of Georgetown, with a coffee in one hand and an ice cream sandwich in the other, I conceded although this wasn’t New York… I could quite happily live in the nation’s capital.