am currently reading Grand Avenues: The
Story of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the French Visionary Who Designed Washington,
DC., an excellent book by Scott W. Berg. I somehow missed its release in 2007, but learned about it watching
CSPAN’s Book TV.
Washingtonians know that L’Enfant laid out the plans for the
city, and that one of Metro’s busiest stations, and the tucked away plaza are
named after him. What’s lesser known is that that he is
buried at Arlington Cemetery, and the story of how his name and reputation were
When L’Enfant died at the age of 70 in 1825 at Green Hill (Chillum,
Maryland, just outside the District near Takoma Park), there was no CNN special
to look back at his forgotten life.
It wasn’t until the turn of
the century that he began to get some recognition. In
conjunction with the city’s Centennial, the McMillan Commission’s plan to build
the National Mall brought attention to the visionary plans L’Enfant had drawn
out for the Federal capital in 1791.
A few years later, the French Ambassador persuaded
President Roosevelt to honor the French-born American who had been wounded
serving his adopted country in the Revolutionary War. L’Enfant had even insisted on being called Peter
instead of Pierre.
In April 1909,
his remains were exhumed from the cemetery at Green Hill. L’Enfant lay in state at the Capitol
rotunda, the first foreign-born person so honored and the seventh overall. His casket was then taken by caisson to Arlington Cemetery. He was buried on a spot high on the hill overlooking the city
whose destiny he helped shape.
of the challenges in reading this book is trying to gain an understanding of what
Washington was physically like when Major L’Enfant got on his horse in March of
1791, and explored the area of forests, streams, and tobacco and corn fields (Berg
notes it “was never a swamp”).
one thing, the Potomac was wider and came up to 17th Street where a
canal went eastward along what is now Constitution Avenue. Pennsylvania Avenue was just a cleared
out path to Georgetown named Ferry Road.
The book provides maps but I just couldn’t fully get the
today/back then visual in my mind’s eye. A search of google led to DC: 1791 to 2008, a special published by
the Washington Post last August.
It’s the perfect companion to the book. Berg writes about some time he spent with Don
Alexander Hawkins, Washington historian and expert on the
Also provided are interactive, then and now maps of
Washington created by a team of students from UNC-Chapel Hill. The Q&A session is worth a
grave and memorial are just outside the Arlington House and clearly marked once
you get there. If you are
in good shape, the walk up the hill is doable. If not, take the trolley.
written since Friday and it feels like a week. Been doing the legwork for a couple of posts I’m
working on, and I don’t know, sometimes you just lose your voice, you know?
Backing up to Sunday, I watched the
Solheim Cup. One of
those where the final tally doesn't match the closeness. At one point, we were only up 1 in three key matches. If my stomach was turning,
imagine how they felt.
How about the play of Christina Kim and Michelle
listened to Scott Rosenberg, author of Say
Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters, on the Diane Rehm Show.
Steve Roberts subbed for Diane, who is still out with an injury to her
pelvis. Diane knows a thing or two about interviewing, but Steve is more web savvy than Diane. Having said
that, he did tow the mainstream line a couple of times, saying things like, the
mainstream media edits first, then publishes, whereas, bloggers don’t
I was very impressed with Scott. He took the high road and gave some
great answers. His book is getting great reviews.
A blog to pass along. From Komi to Marvin is Ashley
Messick’s visits to the restaurants that made the Washingtonian Top 100
list. Warning, eat before you read this fun blog.
Photos below are from a
walk we took this weekend on the eastern edge of Carlyle. The City of Alexandria has done a
nice job with the African American Heritage Park. So often times, we talk about the history in this fine city,
but don’t remember this part.
It is very important than we do.
The Nationals are offering lower level seats for one dollar for Friday night’s game against the Brewers. The ticket also gets you in to see Strasburg, who will be introduced at a press conference at 2 p.m.
And if you will allow this blogger some curmudgeoness, where’s Walter and two sources reporting when we need it? Crap all over the web about Rizzo, in, out? DiPito? Is this the future of sports reporting?? Will Google create a Sort by Trust Factor?
Update: According to Nats320, MASN will cover the press conference live. Also sounds like the dollar seats are sold out.
And an update on the water taxis. The City Paper is reporting that the District announced the following:
“Six local charter companies will operate about a dozen different vessels to the pier from locations including Maryland’s National Harbor and Old Town, Alexandria. Service will be available for home games at the park and other special events. The boat operators will use a new 250-foot commercial pier built for boats carrying up to 149 passengers.”
Now, let's all wait for the SS Strasburg to pull in..
to the Nationals for signing Steve Strasburg. Maybe they can parlay the mojo into some continued good play,
which would help the Giants.
Washington’s remaining schedule includes the Rockies, Cubs, Marlins,
Dodgers and Braves.
Some info on some upcoming books on Willie Mays and the
Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League
World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend by John Klima is due
out August 31. Klima has
some thoughts at his blog.
a related note, Rickwood Field, where the Barons and other teams played, and
the oldest still-in-use ballpark in the U.S., will be restored. A museum will also be built there that
will honor the city’s baseball history, which includes the Negro Leagues and
the Southern League.
Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend by James Hirsch.
authorized biography on Mays.
Due out Feb 9 and comes in at a whopping 624 pages!
The First Fall
Classic : The Red Sox, the Giants and the Cast of Players, Pugs and Politicos
Who Re-Invented the World Series in 1912 by Mike Vaccaro
Amazon shows a release
of October 6, 2009.
Also, Brett Friedlander, author of Chasing Moonlight: The
True Story of Field of Dreams' Doc Graham will sign copies at Nationals Park
Well, no, Carlyle (also known as
Eisenhower East) will never be mentioned in the same breathe as those fabulous places,
but among Washington’s up and comers, this growing urban neighborhood just
west of Old Town Alexandria is a player.
benefit from two Metro stops, a VRE/Amtrak station, multiple bus options, Beltway
improvements that already include a convenient slip ramp, employers such as the
US Patent and Trademark Office (8,000 employees) and The Motley Fool, a restaurant
row, a new farmers market, a Whole Foods and a 22-screen movie theater complex.
good things, but a new neighborhood needs something bold to herald its arrival.
For Carlyle, that could be a
four tower, (22 and 19 stories for residential, 15 and 13 for office and 5700
SF ground floor retail), mixed-use project just a few hundred feet from the
Beltway and a couple blocks from the Eisenhower Metro station (corner of
Eisenhower Avenue and Mill Road). DC Mud has some details, although no
groundbreaking date has been set.
As they note, the city of Alexandria “lauded the architecture and
Carlyle is not among the set of
places Roberta and I frequent, but we do live nearby and are keeping an eye
out for what’s new there. In fact,
drawn in by rave reviews, we dined at Delia’s last night and were impressed. Her review is at yelp.
Note about photo below: I’m not sure, but I believe the rectangle-shaped building in
between the trees and Carlyle’s existing buildings is the old American Trucking
Association HQ. It will be torn down to make way for the
Lane. It sounds like a
pleasant enough place to live, but for many years, this street in the northernmost
part of Old Town Alexandria was mostly just a quarter-mile long stretch of
pavement that connected hurried motorists to and from Route One and the GW
Today the cars still whiz by, but within
the last several years, some new mixed development has turned Slaters Lane into
more than just a commuter cut through. Housing has sprung up, landscaping improves the
appearance, and new businesses include a dog groomer, boutique, spa/beauty
salon, Russian Gourmet shop and Tropical Smoothie.
Slaters Lane’s two brightest
spots are Buzz (Bakery, Coffee and Lounge) and Rustico (Restaurant and Bar). In a pairing like this, the main player is usually the
restaurant, but Buzz is making quite a name for itself. Step inside on a weekday
morning and you’ll likely find the place buzzing (sorry, I couldn’t resist)
with young professionals busy behind their laptops, pairs chatting, and depending on the hour, children
playing. On a
recent morning I sipped coffee outside and spoke with a middle-aged man who
lived in the area. The
noise from the cars and trucks was an annoying distraction, but he said he
liked the “nice, open feel” and drew a comparison to Europe’s outdoor cafes.
Strong points for Buzz are their hours,
6 am to midnight seven days a week, and the quality of their menu. They go far beyond the
run-of-the-mill, offering illy coffee, martinis, beer, wine, tea, ice cream, baked
goods and deserts, cupcakes and cakes, Belgian waffles and daily specials. The staff
is well-trained and can handle the lines with grace and ease. They even take good care of
their furry customers with a special area outside and doggie biscuits.
Across the street from Buzz is Rustico. I’d like to give them the four
star rating I give Buzz, but a handful of visits have convinced me they are
worthy of just three (hey, that’s still pretty good). I’ve enjoyed their pizzas, and have had fun choosing
from their great selection of beers, but the food has disappointed us on
occasion. A new chef is on
board but apparently, he’s still tweaking his team. This past Wednesday night, Roberta ordered a steak and the
results were very disappointing.
Rustico gets an 80% rating at Urban Spoon and some good
reviews elsewhere, so maybe we’ve just been unlucky. They pack ‘em in even on weeknights, so consider
making reservations if you go.
Slaters Lane has indeed come a long way. The Potomac Green town homes
continue their northward push and the new Monroe Avenue Bridge is fully open.
Now, if the city would just let us turn right on red at Route
Note: Both Buzz and Rustico
plan to open up a second location in Arlington next June.