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Michelina Gauthier for Birds, Blossoms, and the Bull Moose: A Natural History Hike of T.R.'s Memorial in the Potomac

Michelina Gauthier for Irish-Americans in DC

Karyl Savageau for Herring Hill of Georgetown

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WalkingTown DC 2019 Tour Descriptions WalkingTown DC 2019 Tour Descriptions


Thank you for your interest in WalkingTown DC 2019, taking place September 14-22.  Please see below for the descriptions of the amazing tours we're offering this year -- then grab your walking shoes (or bicycle and helmet) and join us!


16th Street: Avenue of Presidents -- Stroll through 200 years of history along the stately street that gives the White House its address. A remarkable architectural microcosm of Washington, lower northwest 16th Street features the ostentatious Scottish Rite Temple, Beaux-Arts Gilded Age mansions (many of them embassies), neo-Gothic churches, peculiar statuary, and the cascading fountains of Meridian Hill Park. Hear stories about the colorful characters who have resided there and the changes in the neighborhood over time.  

A Hill Above Washington: Fort Reno -- The history of Fort Reno Park has always been about geography. Located on the tallest hill in DC, on a ridgeline that flanks the Potomac upstream, these conditions would underlie two centuries of use. The hill transformed from a plantation to a fort to a village of African American landowners. Then the town wrestled with white neighbors who had their own vision for the unique topography. This tour will trace the remnants of rural Tenleytown and reveal the people who once called its slopes home.

Adams Morgan From the Time of Slavery -- This tour of Adams Morgan is rooted in your guide's 50-year observation of the changes that have taken place in the neighborhood. Hear about the community's history with slavery, housing disinvestment and red Lining along with trends in modern day lending. Walk across land that was once plantations in Kalorama Park and see the Holt House adjacent to Walter Pierce Park. Get a take on the role of banks in the economics of community development and in neighborhood displacement.

Adams Morgan: Suburb, Skating Rink, Sound of Music, and Snow Morgue -- Jimi Hendrix, a White House 2.0 to put Versailles to shame, pro-wrestling at the Harris Teeter, and DC's greatest single-day peacetime loss of life are just some of the many things you'll learn about and sights you'll see as you follow this tour through the heart of Adams Morgan. You'll be fascinated to learn that DC's proudest hub of urban funkiness started its life as a suburb. Join us for quirky look at neighborhood history.

African American Civil Rights Sites in LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale -- This tour will highlight sites in LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale that are relevant to 20th century African American Civil Rights work in DC. African Americans began moving to LeDroit Park in the 1890s, after a fence that surrounded this exclusively white "suburb" was removed. The adjacent Bloomingdale neighborhood also was developed as exclusively white, via the use of racial deed covenants. We'll visit sites that were central to the 1920s-40s campaign against racial deed covenants, including one of the houses central to the Supreme Court's landmark 1948 decision that ended the enforcement of racial covenants.

Art Galleries of Capitol Hill -- Capitol Hill has large and small, somewhat "hidden" art galleries, historic and new, that are packed with art from talented, local artists. Walk less than one mile square and tour the galleries that have rotating art exhibits in venues that you have most likely not seen! Did you know that the Hill Center features three floors of affordable and gorgeous artwork? We'll go inside to tour six distinct exhibit spaces with brief explanations about the featured artists! Smaller galleries with local art and grand scale wall murals will be visited up close and personal. The tour ends at the historic and vibrant Eastern Market, which feature artists' craft booths among its offerings.

Art at the Convention Center -- The art collection inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center is the best-kept secret in the nation's capital. Home to one of the largest public art collections in DC, the Walter E. Washington Convention houses 137 works by 93 artists.  Featured in the collection is The Shaw Wall, a 72-foot art piece that honors and celebrates the Shaw community, the neighborhood in which the Convention Center is located.

Anacostia Historic District: History, Culture, and Small-town Charm -- The Anacostia Historic District was created in 1978 to protect the area's unique architecture and small-town charm. This tour will increase your understanding of the neighborhood's history, culture, and architecture from its inclusion within the boundaries of the District of Columbia in 1791 to today.  Hear about the development and historical significance of the Barry's Farm, Uniontown and the thriving commercial district that once lined Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road.

Art & History are Alive in the Cemetery -- Stroll through the 86 immaculate acres that encompass St. Paul's Church and its churchyard, Rock Creek Cemetery.  Experience the beauty of Washington's oldest and only Colonial church, and its oldest cemetery. See nearly 300 years of holy art created by many of the finest artists in America, past and present. Hear the stories of some of the most notable and notorious men and women, of all races, who contributed to the making of America and the Nation's Capital.

Art of New Deal: Department of the Interior Murals -- Discover the art and architecture that made the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building a ""symbol of a new day"" during the Great Depression. Designed by local architect Waddy Butler Wood, the Interior headquarters structure features more than 40 painted murals by New Deal-era artists and several of the 1941-1942 photomurals by Ansel Adams.  All adult visitors must present a valid, government-issued photo ID to enter the building and are subject to security screenings, including bag and parcel checks. "

Birds, Blossoms, and the Bull Moose: A Natural History Hike of T.R.'s Memorial in the Potomac -- Supported by a donation from Michelina Gauthier -- Trek around Theodore Roosevelt Island, an 88-acre living memorial to the first president to make conservation a centerpiece of his presidency. Meet our 26th president -- or rather a 17-ft. bronze statue of him -- the rich Manhattanite who became known as the protector of more than 230 million acres of public land. Saunter around the island to sample its natural and not-so-natural history.  Now visitors enjoy seeing the plants and critters that thrive on this 88-acre island in the Potomac River.

Brookland: Rural Farms and Woods, Suburb and City Neighborhood -- This tour offers a two-hour survey of landmarks and undeveloped tracts that connect present day Brookland with its earliest recorded past as a Native American hunting ground and a collection of colonial plantations. Hear about its transition into a farming area in Washington County, a travel route to Washington City and the site of Civil War encampments and forts. Learn about the influence of Howard and Catholic universities, as well as the sources of Brookland's racial and cultural diversity and the ongoing issues related to development.

Burleith, Georgetown Flea Market & Holy Rood Cemetery -- The Burleith neighborhood just north of Georgetown has a rich history. A close community, it is the home of one of the oldest, continuous flea markets in the greater DC area and the third oldest cemetery in the Georgetown area.  See these sites and the charming neighborhood of Burleith, the "village within the city!"

Capitol Riverfront, Then and Now -- Learn about the history of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood and its evolution from a once light industrial backyard to the District of Columbia into a vibrant mixed-use urban waterfront community. During this behind-the-scenes tour of the neighborhood, you'll hear fun facts the neighborhood's history and growth as well as learn what's next at the riverfront!

Civil Rights on S Street NW -- Step back in time on this beautiful, short stretch of the 1600 and 1700 blocks of S Street NW, once home to some of Washington's--and the nation's--top Civil Rights champions. Meet Charles Hamilton Houston, George E.C. Hayes and other fascinating and courageous individuals who changed so many lives. Learn how a landmark 1926 racially restricted housing case was fought (and lost) here, opening the gates for increased segregation but also firing up the opposition to attain victory a bit more than two decades later.

Creating Capitol Hill: Place, Proprietors and People -- Explore the streets around the Capitol as you learn about the circumstances and compromises that were necessary to create a permanent seat for the federal government. From structures still standing to those long-since destroyed, discover how hundreds of acres of wooded farmland became one of the most important communities in the nation.

DC Murals: Spectacle and Story -- This tour will explain and interpret the magnificent public art in two of DC's most popular neighborhoods, U Street and Shaw. Amidst the ongoing gentrification, numerous new murals sit side-by-side with some of the city's oldest and most revered pieces. Murals both reflect and shape their neighborhoods--as well as national themes. This walk will open up the stories of these streets as your guide offers commentary on the murals' artistic, social, and historic significance and takes questions. Tourists will receive a brochure providing the itinerary, captions and credits for the murals viewed.

Downtown Jewish Washington -- Learn what Jewish life and worship was like from 1850 to 1950 in the historic Seventh Street NW neighborhood, now known as Chinatown-Penn Quarter.  Visit the sites of four former synagogues including the 1876 synagogue that is part of the Capital Jewish Museum's new building.

Frederick Douglass' Old Anacostia -- Join a local reporter and historian on a walk through Old Anacostia, examining the neighborhood through the eyes of residents past and present. Blending historic research and contemporary Ward 8 politics, your guide will share stories of presidents, famed resident Frederick Douglass, 19th-century architecture and neighborhood folklore.

Frederick Law Olmsted and the U.S. Capitol Grounds -- Commissioned by Congress in 1874 to design the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, Frederick Law Olmsted created an innovative landscape, presenting the building to greatest visual effect while overcoming numerous design challenges. Explore the history and design of the Capitol Grounds while learning about its intricate features, such as the Olmsted-designed marble terraces; masterful stone and ironwork; and carefully constructed views and circulation paths. 

Gallaudet University: A National Treasure -- Gallaudet University is the world's only liberal arts university for deaf and hard of hearing students. President Abraham Lincoln signed its charter in 1864.  Celebrate the university's 155th anniversary with a tour of and stories about selected campus buildings. See the Gallaudet University Museum in Chapel Hall, a post-Civil War collegiate building, and the Edward Miner Gallaudet Residence, also known as House One, a 35-room Victorian Gothic mansion built for the University's founder and first president.

Going Green... on the Roof! -- See and learn about the multi-million-dollar renovation of the American Society of Landscape Architects Center and its green roof. Now certified LEED platinum, the building has an open concept and the latest innovative technologies to promote its profession and going green in the landscape architecture design profession.

Herring Hill of Georgetown -- Uncover the rich history of Georgetown's African-American communities, starting in Herring Hill, which was an 18th century community to both enslaved and freed blacks. See the churches and schools established by African-American Georgetowners during the 19th century and enjoy a stop at the Dumbarton House to hear about the slaves kept by the Nourse family.

Hidden Gems of SE: Hillcrest Architecture -- Supported by Anonymous Donation in honor of WalkingTown DC Volunteers -- This highly rated tour continues to challenge assumptions about neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. The tour focuses on the many houses by legendary DC architects, e.g.: A.H. Sonneman; Leon Chatelain; Edward Burton Corning, James J. Baldwin, Wilfred V. Worland, and George T. Santmeyers, and pioneering African-American architects R.C. Archer, Jr. and Lewis W. Giles. Highlights include an interior tour of the 1935 polychrome Aztec Deco house designed by John Joseph Earley and the Frances A. Gregory Public Library designed by famed contemporary architect David Adjaye.

  Hidden in Plain Sight: Forgotten Memorials of DC -- DC is a city with so many significant, fascinating, and beautiful memorials that we often forget about the ones of less stature. What better way to cover some ground and see some of these historic markers and monuments than a casual 6- to 8-mile bike ride around DC?

Historic Chevy Chase DC -- Meet members of Historic Chevy Chase DC at the Avalon Theatre for an enlightening tour of the neighborhood. Learn about the historic commercial structures along Connecticut Avenue and selected homes on the side streets to the east and west.  You will hear about the buildings' architectural styles as well as stories of the businesses and people who live there, past and present.

Historic Theaters in Downtown Washington -- Enjoy an evening walk among the landmarks of downtown Washington, starting with National Theatre. Meander through the city's core, talking along the way about playhouses where local and national theater history has been made. Count on surprising and maybe even scandalous stories from one of DC's most beloved cultural commentators. The tour ends at Ford's Theatre by way of the Warner Theatre.

History and Gentrification on H street NE -- Learn about the interplay of this historic are of Washington's rise as a thriving commercial center to its fall after the riots of 1968. Hear and see how gentrification is playing out today on the street that is known as a battleground for racial and economic tensions around development in DC. 

In the Brewery's Shadow: The German immigrant Experience in DC -- Follow in the footsteps of Washington, DC's most successful German immigrant, Christian Heurich, while exploring the history of Foggy Bottom. Visit the site of DC's largest brewery, the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. travel back in time and see the site of the original Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. and other historic German landmarks, including the United Church (Die Vereinigte Kirche). The tour ends at the historic home of Christian and Amelia Heurich, where tourists may see the "Home Brewed" exhibit highlighting Washington, DC's brewing history, and the Castle Garden and Carriage House.

Investigation: Detective McDevitt -- On the night of April 14, 1865, Detective James McDevitt was on duty at the Washington Metropolitan Police headquarters, a half-block from Ford's Theatre. Just before 10:30 pm, frantic witnesses rushed in with horrifying news: President Lincoln had been shot at the theater. Join Detective McDevitt as he revisits the sites and reexamines the clues from the investigation into the Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy.

Irish-Americans in DC -- Supported by a donation from Michelina Gauthier -- From colonial times to present day, Irish contributions to America are many and varied.  The tour highlights the actions of Revolutionary and Civil War heroes, U.S. presidents, artists, advocates, architects and others who share an Irish heritage. Stops along the way include the White House (outside), historical landmarks in downtown DC's business district and a look at the city‘s oldest parish.

Korea and the United States: A Cradle of Friendship -- Go back in history to learn about the friendship between Korea and the United States from 1888 to present. This tour takes place in the Old Korean Legation Museum located on Logan Circle.  The museum was home to and built by Seth Phillips, an American Civil War naval hero, politician, and diplomat.  Used as the Korean Legation from 1889 to 1905, the house is now a museum displaying Korean culture and historic moments in US-Korean relations

L'Enfant Boulevard: Making Way for Change -- This 45-minute walking tour will explore the history, architecture, and plans for the future of L'Enfant Boulevard (10th Street SW). Hear about this historic street, and the changes that took place during the 1950s and 1960s to revitalize Southwest Washington. See The Wharf development from Benjamin Banneker Park and learn about the plans for what's to come as this part of Southwest Washington DC changes once again.

Logan Circle: A Vibrant  Neighborhood -- Explore the dynamic and historic Logan Circle neighborhood to learn about the rise, fall and revival of the area, from its humble rural beginnings as open farmland to today's destination neighborhood. Stroll past the myriad beautifully restored Victorian and Richardsonian Romanesque row houses and see the bustling 14th Street Corridor's development. Hear about the rich history of the neighborhood's many famous people, from artists, musicians to civil rights advocates.

Marching Along with John Philip Sousa -- Fall in step with your guide, in character and in uniform as DC native son, composer and conductor John Philip Sousa. This tour highlights important sites in Sousa's life on Capitol Hill and the Navy Yard, as well his musical legacy. See where Sousa was born and raised as well as the training ground where he marched.

Maritime Culture in the Mid-Atlantic States -- Did you know that access to sea, via the Chesapeake Bay, helped shape our area's culture and economy?  Learn whether DC is really a seaport.  Find out who invented the propeller and what it meant for the Skipjacks and Baltimore Clippers. Hear and understand why the islands in the Chesapeake Bay and communities along the shorelines have been settings for so many books, among them Jacob Have I Loved, Chesapeake, Beautiful Swimmers and Tidewater Tales.

Oak Hill Cemetery -- Take a walk through one of DC's most scenic and historic cemeteries, overlooking Rock Creek and perhaps best known perhaps for its striking Renwick Chapel.  Oak Hill Cemetery is the resting place of Katherine Graham and Benjamin Bradlee of The Washington Post, Lincoln's Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and personal secretary John Nicolay, Union General Jesse Reno, Truman's Secretary of State Dean Acheson, philanthropist W. W. Corcoran and many more.

Offbeat DC: Uncovering Hidden & Unusual Sights in the City -- Amid the hustle and bustle of Chinatown-Penn Quarter, we will uncover cool, hidden and unusual sites. See the home where John Wilkes Booth met with his co-conspirators and an 8-foot tall literary tribute to President Lincoln. Meet the father of photography and hear why the National Portrait Gallery was once the "Temple of Invention," full of intricate miniature machines and gadgets. See the spot of the first FDR memorial (no, not that one). Tour takes place outside only, no interiors of locations.

Queering Capitol Hill -- Capitol Hill has long been a social and residential center for Washington, DC's gay and lesbian community. It has also been a center for bars and clubs, innovative women's businesses, and our federal government. Join this tour to hear stories of radical lesbian separatists, First Amendment fights, the underpinning of LGBT religious organizations, interactions with Marines, and other tales from seven decades of gay and lesbian life in the shadow of the Capitol. Outdoor tour only.

  Rising Tides of DC -- Sea levels are rising.  DC's portion of the Chesapeake Basin is "settling" and scientists project that Washington will see a dramatic increase in tidal flooding in the next 10 to 25 years.  Enjoy a fascinating and enlightening bike ride around many of DC's landmarks and thoroughfares and learn how much of DC is at significant risk due to climate change and geology. This 2-hour, 8-mile bike tour will have you rolling along the canal ways, rivers, and flood prone areas of our great city -- and through some scenic and vibrant DC neighborhoods. The route will be mostly on streets with bike lanes, bike trails and a few sidewalks (where it is legal to do so).

Robert G. Ingersoll: The Great Agnostic in Washington, DC -- Robert G. Ingersoll was a 19th century champion of Freethought, women's rights, civil rights, and DC voting rights. This famous orator and critique of religion toured the US and delivered over 1,300 speeches to packed houses. Ingersoll lived and worked in the District for 7 years. He argued cases before the Supreme Court, lobbied Congress and consulted with Presidents. This tour will visit the sites of his two DC homes, one on Lafayette Square, and some of the places where he worked and spoke in downtown Washington, DC.

Tenleytown: The Village that Grew -- Visit the highest elevation in Washington, DC, and discover the extraordinary village life that is Tenleytown, including the Methodist Cemetery and the frame homes of Grant Road. Learn about what has been erased: Civil War forts, Reno City, taverns, and farms. Tour takes place outside only, no interiors of locations.

Shaw: Where DC Comes Together, Part I -- DC's Shaw neighborhood has always been a crossroads. Today, the Washington Convention Center dominates the neighborhood's southern half, but it once consisted of woods and a few farms. Notable historic figures lived and worked in lower central Shaw, including explorer John Wesley Powell, African American U.S. Senator Blanche K. Bruce, and historian Carter G. Woodson. Shaw also was home to a number of historic sites, the locations of which today house vibrant neighborhood activity.

Shaw: Where DC Comes Together, Part II-- DC's Shaw neighborhood has always been a crossroads. If social issues are the history of Shaw's southern half, then entertainment is the focus of central Shaw's northern half—from the Howard Theatre, where every star in the Black entertainment pantheon performed, and the pool hall where Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington decided to become a musician, to two sites that hosted baseball teams. Tour highlights include renovated movie theater buildings and the city's first African American YWCA. 

The Historic Springland Farm and Its Progeny -- Revolutionary War Hero John Adlum established the Springland Farm.  Over the years, it has been home to the National Bureau of Standards, Intelsat, International Chancery Center, and the University of the District of Columbia. Tour the farmland and hear the stories of Adlum, the 1848 Cholera epidemic, Myrtilla Miner, selected embassies and today's Springland Farm Community and Whittle School & Studio.

The Mansions of Meridian Hill -- The neighborhood of Meridian Hill has 15 beautiful mansions dating from the early 20th Century.  Learn about the unique architecture of the homes, the importance of Meridian Hill Park, and the historical figures that influenced the neighborhood. Sites on the tour include the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Totten-Warder Mansion, the Josephine Butler House, and Meridian International Center.

The U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory Collection -- Do you want to visit a desert, a tropical paradise, and the Mediterranean? Do you want to travel back to the U.S. Exploring Expedition and the Jurassic period? Visit the nation's oldest Botanic Garden and take a tour with a knowledgeable guide who will connect the exotic plant world to everyday life. You might see bananas, cacao, and coffee ripening on the tree or learn about the next big breakthrough in medicinal plant research.

The U.S. Capitol Grounds -- Enjoy a walking tour of the U.S. Capitol grounds. Learn about the many historic events that took place on the grounds, as you explore the Capitol Building's exterior, memorial trees and Summerhouse that are part of this beautiful landscape.  

Under the Rainbow: Gay History in the District -- Take a one-hour walking tour to learn about the people, places and events that informed our understanding of the LGBTQ community in the Nation's Capital.  Designed for anyone who is curious about the journey from the darkness of the "closet" to the colorful expressions at DC's Pride Parade, this tour will enlighten and inspire you.

  Under the Rainbow: LGBTQ History of Washington, DC -- Bring your bicycle for a two-hour bike ride exploring the history of the gay community in DC.  Hear about the events and people that led the battle for human rights and helped change hearts and minds across the city and the nation.  Your guide will reveal, relate and explore DC's Gay History, from the "closet" to the Court House.

Women's History at the National Portrait Gallery -- Learn about the notable and notorious women highlighted in the collection at the National Portrait Gallery. From colonial era spies to Civil War activists, suffragists to celebrities, discover the hidden history of American women who helped shape and lead our nation. This tour takes place inside the National Portrait Gallery building.

Worthy Ambition: The Unique Architecture and Historical Figures of LeDroit Park -- LeDroit Park was developed in 1873 as an exclusive white "suburban" enclave. In this tour, explore unique architecture and the historical figures who transformed the neighborhood into the home of DC's black intelligentsia. Neighborhood notables included Dr. Anna J. Cooper, DC Mayor Walter Washington, Sen. Edward Brooke, Rep. Oscar De Priest, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mary Church Terrell, Duke Ellington, and Rev. Jesse Jackson. See unique 19th-century houses built in 12 distinct architectural styles.


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