We first visited Washington in 1995 when we spent two weekends there, either side of a conference John attended in Baltimore. We’d intended to go somewhere else the second weekend, but had enjoyed ourselves so much the first time that we decided to go back. Our anticipations were therefore high for the couple of days we stayed there at the end of our 2008 VA/WV trip – and we were disappointed. Washington hadn’t changed, but I think we had spent so long touring quieter areas that we just found it too big, too busy and too noisy to relax. This year we decided to hedge our bets and stay in Alexandria instead, then we had the choice of taking the Metro into Washington, or doing something completely different if we preferred. This worked – we visited for the day, and loved it again.
With each visit being short, day-trips or a couple of nights, we have never strayed far from the National Mall area, so some places have been photographed three times, but every time there have been new monuments to visit. The gallery below is from 1995 and doesn’t have any equivalents in later years. I’m just intrigued that I used to expose my legs to the sun – these days, I’m terrified of burning my peely-wally Scottish skin!
This year, we started our visit in the National Gallery of Art, including its Sculpture Garden. You could spend days in there, and we probably would if we lived there. I discovered we visited in 1995 too, as there is a picture of me standing outside I. M. Pei’s East Building. You can see the similarities with the Louvre Pyramid which he also designed. Other than that one photo, all are from 2014.
Abraham Lincoln hasn’t changed much over the years!
And neither has Jefferson…
…or the Washington Monument.
I find the Vietnam Memorial the most moving of all, but although we visited all three times, I can only find a picture from this year. I guess it’s hard to capture because of its structure. Also shown is the Women in Vietnam Memorial depicting female soldiers helping a wounded man.
The National World War II Memorial took as aback in 2008, because we couldn’t remember it and yet its design was very traditional so that it seemed to have been there forever. It actually dates from 2004. This year, we took our photographs beside the columns for the states we had just visited.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial opened in 1995, but after we had visited, so we first saw it in 2008. I really like the concept which is so much more imaginative than the World War II one.
Although the Roosevelt Memorial opened in 1997, we didn’t see it till this year. It covers 7.5 acres and is also non-traditional with four granite “rooms”, complete with water features, telling the story of FDR’s presidency through inscriptions of his words. Here are just a few examples (the inscriptions are legible if you click on the photos to enlarge). I wish more of today’s politicians had his compassion.
Martin Luther King emerging from the Stone of Hope is a tremendous sight – this memorial opened in 2011. The George Mason Memorial commemorates one of America’s founders who wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The Japanese Pagoda is included because I like the story of how it was erected. It was a gift of friendship in 1957 from the Mayor of Yokohama, and its parts arrived in five crates with no instructions for assembly. It required the staff of the Library of Congress to determine how to reconstruct it accurately! Ah, librarians – what would you do without us?
So that’s how we fell in love with Washington again – next time, we must spend more time there and strike out beyond the Mall. This post also brings my holiday diary for 2014 to a close. I feel that means another holiday must be due soon…