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WalkingTown DC 2018 is funded in part by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, in support of its 2018 Run/Walk program and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's FitDC Initiative.




Sarah Lister

Mary Miller

Paula Thiede

WalkingTown DC 2018 Tour Descriptions WalkingTown DC 2018 Tour Descriptions


NOTE: When a WalkingTown DC tour reaches capacity, registration closes, and we remove the online form for that tour. We do not keep a waitlist for the closed tours, but feel free to check back, as we continually process cancellations and reopen tours.


A Hill Above Washington -- Reno was a mixed-race town located on the hill that is now Fort Reno Park. It was erased in the 1920s.  Reno's location, on a ridge above Georgetown and northwest of the city, played a key role in both its creation and destruction. Explore the community's history through the geography of the land it once occupied, focusing on Reno's remaining buildings and the people who lived there. Old roads, a schoolhouse, and the park's iconic water towers take on new meaning as their histories come to life.  Additional information: https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/article/20981322/the-battle-of-fort-reno

American University Experiment Station, 100 Years Later -- Join this tour to learn about activities at the American University Experiment Station and the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service that left burial pits, debris fields, contaminated properties and groundwater in a section of northwest DC. One hundred years ago, some of the most toxic chemicals, powerful explosives and deadly weapons in the world were being developed and tested in the area known as Spring Valley.  Learn what the Army Corps of Engineers did to identify and clean up the sites and hear about the health issues that concern some neighbors.  Additional information:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR2009092001961.html?noredirect=on

Answering the Call: The American Red Cross World War I -- Through artifacts, personal stories and photographs, learn about the work of the Red Cross during in World War I and how the war shaped the organization that we know today. The exhibit includes Red Cross home front activities with Red Cross volunteers knitting for the military and civilian relief as well as canteen workers greeting troops at ports of embarkation with coffee and donuts. Additional subjects include Red Cross nursing, civilian relief workers and support for the injured veterans.

Architecture + Art in NoMa -- In the heart of DC, the burgeoning NoMa neighborhood is where the old city meets the new city. Learn about structures that embody the District's — and the nation's — deep history, including the Government Publishing Office, Uline Arena, and the Postal Museum. Get to know more about the buildings that have arisen over the past two decades, including the headquarters of National Public Radio. Along the way, see lots of public art, including numerous murals that enliven building walls, providing surprise and delight. Tour takes place outside only, no interiors. 

Art and History Are Alive in the Cemetery -- St. Paul's Rock Creek Parish and Rock Creek Cemetery are Washington, DC's only Colonial Era church and churchyard in continuous use for more than 300 hundred years. Stroll its 86 manicured acres and see some of the most beautiful sculptures in the city, rendered by many of America's greatest.  Hear stories about noteworthy and notorious men and women from America's past and present, including a signer of the U.S. Constitution, great writers, and a few TV stars as well as the inventor of the television.

Art at the Center – The art collection at theWalter E. Washington Convention Center is the best-kept secret in the nation's capital. A world-renowned collection of 137 works by 93 artists, it also is one of the largest public art collections in Washington, DC outside of museums. It is the only venue where you can see a work by artist Sol LeWitt that spans two levels, Wall Drawing #1103, and uses  the inside and outside of an interior spiral staircase as the canvas. The LeWitt is steps away from another extraordinary site-specific installation,Untitled, by award-winning artist Sarah Sze. Also on view is the Shaw Wall, a 72-foot wall of dynamic artwork that honors and celebrates the Shaw neighborhood that is home to the Convention Center.  Note: This tour requires going up and down an escalator or elevator to cover two floors of art and walking a distance between each piece of art.

Brookland: Yesterday and Today -- Take a two-hour walk through central Brookland, learning about its transition from woodlands to farmlands, from a trolley car suburb to its status today as a tree-lined, family-friendly urban neighborhood. Hear about landowners and enslaved people who lived in this section of Washington County; Civil War forts, farms and early suburban development; and racial integration and the homes of notable residents over the last 200 years. Learn what development proposals are being considered for Brookland and how some in the community perceive the proposals.

Burleith, Georgetown Flea Market & Holy Rood Cemetery -- The Burleith neighborhood just north of Georgetown has a rich history. A tightly knit community, it has been the home of the Georgetown Flea Market for more than 30 years. Nearby Holy Rood Cemetery contains approximately 7,000 graves, including as many as 1,000 free and enslaved African Americans.  It is arguably the best-documented slave burial ground in the District of Columbia. Enjoy a delightful walking tour of this unique village within the city!

Castle to Capitol: The Architecture of Iconic Buildings on the National Mall -- Washington's best-loved museums line the east side of the National Mall, laid out between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. Called the "Nation's Attic", the Smithsonian Institution is one of the largest museum complexes in the world, with 30 million annual visitors, 19 museums, and over 150 million items in its collection. Each building is an architectural landmark, from the unique Smithsonian Castle and Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden to the Museum of the American Indian and more. Discover how the Smithsonian Institution has shaped the National Mall since 1855.

Creating Capitol Hill: Place, Proprietors and People -- See the neighborhood and historic sites described in Creating Capitol Hill: Place, Proprietors, and People, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society's latest publication. 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's Instagram-able Marvelous Murals Bike Ride -- There are so many new murals in the DC area. Some are in plain sight, and others are tucked away. Take a ride with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) to appreciate some of the city's newest wall paintings and discover some tricks to travel confidently through the city by bicycle. Please bring your own bike.

Discover Peirce Mill -- Isaac Peirce arrived in Washington in 1795 to find his fortune, eventually amassing 2,000 acres, which today form the majority of Rock Creek Park. The Peirce Mill sits along Rock Creek as a monument to Isaac Peirce. It was built between 1820-29 to grind wheat and corn to make flour. In 2011, Friends of Peirce Mill, in partnership with the National Park Service, restored the mill to partially working order. Learn about the agricultural past of DC, milling genius Oliver Evans, and Isaac Peirce and his family.

Discovering Jewish Downtown Washington -- Learn what Jewish life and worship were like in the historic Seventh Street NW neighborhood now known as Chinatown/Penn Quarter.  See four historic synagogues that help tell the story of the Jewish community, including the 1876 synagogue. The synagogue, which today is the Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum, is currently on wheels waiting to move for a third and final time to the Jewish Historical Society's new museum project that is part of the seven-acre Capitol Crossing complex currently being built over I-395.

Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC: The Lion of Anacostia -- Explore the history of Washington City's first sub-division and the late 19th century stomping grounds of Frederick Douglass. Stroll from the visitor's center of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site to the summit of Cedar Hill, the estate where Douglass spent the last 18 years of his life, and take in its panoramic views of the capital city skyline. Hear the stories of Douglass's professional and personal undertakings, before heading to Historic Anacostia to explore the history, homes, churches and sights that remain, bringing forgotten historical characters to life.

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: the Olmsted-designed marble terraces; brick Summerhouse; masterful stone and ironwork; and carefully constructed views and circulation paths. Presented by the National Association for Olmsted Parks and United States Capitol Historical Society and led by volunteers for the USCHS.

Gallaudet University: A National Treasure -- Gallaudet University is the world's only liberal arts university for deaf and hard of hearing students. The University is known for its Olmsted landscapes and Victorian buildings, as well as for its educational excellence.  See the Edward Miner Gallaudet Residence, a mansion built for the University's founder and first president. Learn about the Gallaudet University Museum in Chapel Hall, a post-Civil War building with elegant arches and an iconic Tower Clock that still serves as the focal point of the college.

H street NE: At the Heart of Hip -- See H Street NE through the lens of social justice and the interplay of this historic area's rise as a thriving commercial center to its fall after the riots in 1968 and to its present. Focus on how gentrification and development are playing out today on a street that is known as a battleground for racial and economic tensions in DC.  An interactive experience, the tour offers participants a group discussion about the practical implications of gentrification.

Herring Hill & Georgetown's African-American Communities -- Learn about the rich history of Georgetown's African-American community, starting in Herring Hill, which served as the center for both enslaved and freed black and continued as such through the mid-twentieth century. View the various schools, some dating to the early 1800s, that African American Georgetowners established. Hear stories about the Underground Railroad and the ill-fated voyage of "The Pearl". The tour takes place primarily outside with the exception of the Dumbarton House's Slavery exhibit.

Hidden Gems of SE: Hillcrest Architecture -- This popular Hillcrest tour continues to challenge assumptions about neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. This year's tour focuses on the structures designed by many of DC's most acclaimed residential architects, including A.H. Sonneman, Leon Chatelain, Edward Burton Corning, George T. Santmeyers and Louis T. Rouleau, as well as pioneering African-American architects R.C. Archer, Jr. and Lewis W. Giles. Tour highlights include an interior tour of the 1935 polychrome Aztec Deco "Fealy House" by John Joseph Earley, and the striking 2012 Frances A. Gregory Library by David Adjaye (best known for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture).

Historic Chevy Chase DC -- Historic Chevy Chase DC (HCCDC) members will guide participants from Avalon Theatre on Connecticut Avenue NW to Chevy Chase Circle, examining the historic commercial structures along the way.  See, too, a number of historic residential structures to the east and west of Connecticut Avenue as your guide shares the history of the neighborhood and shows you the varied architectural styles of the homes. 

Irish Influences in DC -- Discover the many and varied contributions of Irish-Americans who, from the colonial era through today, helped shape the nation and define the character of Washington, DC. This tour features the actions of historic figures and unsung laborers, of Revolutionary and Civil War heroes, and of U.S. presidents, artists, advocates, architects and others -- all of whom share an Irish heritage. This is fun and easy two-hour walking tour that stops in downtown parks, the White House, historic landmarks in the downtown business district, and one of DC‘s oldest churches. 

Kids' Tour: Building Penn Quarter! -- Discover buildings! Who designs them?  How are they put together? This walking tour for children takes an interactive approach to learning about architecture in the vibrant Penn Quarter neighborhood. Participants will learn new terms like keystone, cornice, pilaster, pediment, portico, and many more architectural features that make up buildings. Kids 8 to 12 years old will enjoy this tour. Parents are encouraged to join the tour and participate.

 Kingman Island-- Join Tommy Wells, Director of DC's Department of Energy and Environment, for a bike ride to and walking tour of Kingman Island. Cyclists will ride up Anacostia River Walk to the island, where Director Wells will lead a walking tour and talk about the future of the island and what makes it special.  You will learn about the island's birth in 1916 and the environmental efforts to maintain its ecosystem and environs as well as the work to clean up the Anacostia River.  Please bring your own bike.

Lafayette Square in the Civil War Era -- This tour will explore some of the most important people, buildings, and events associated with Lafayette Square, Washington, DC's most fashionable neighborhood during the Civil War era. Hear about the Blair-Lee House, George McClellan's headquarters, the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William Seward, the sensational murder of the son of Francis Scott Key by the notorious Dan Sickles, and much more.

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 next as this part of Southwest Washington DC changes once again.

Marching Along with John Philip Sousa -- Musical history comes to life on a "marching" tour of the important sites in the life of conductor and composer John Philip Sousa. Fall in step with your guide, in character and in uniform as DC native son John Philip Sousa, as he leads guests on an amazing expedition of Capitol Hill and the Navy Yard where Sousa was born and raised. A legendary composer, he wrote over 135 marches.  Two of the most famous are "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "The Washington Post March".

Murals in Our Midst: The New Urban Art -- Experience the new street art in Shaw and the U Street corridor that has flooded these neighborhoods in the last few years, changing our urban landscape and enlivening the culture of the city.  See the murals come to life while hearing about their background, local context, and styles from several of DC's acclaimed mural artists who will accompany you on the tour.  Learn about murals that have been neighborhood fixtures, such as "Around the World," by Richard Colemen, on the Capital Pool Checkers Club for 30 years.

Murals in the U.S. Department of the Interior -- Discover the art and architecture that made a U.S. Department of the Interior Building a "symbol of a new day" during the Great Depression.  Take a tour of the Stewart Lee Udall building to see 26 photographic murals of National Parks, Indian reservations, and other locations taken by Ansel Adams in the 1940s.  See many of the 40-plus mural panels painted by artists such as Maynard Dixon, Allan Houser, Gifford Beal and John Steuart Curry.

Oak Hill Cemetery -- One of America's outstanding examples of the Rural Cemetery movement, Oak Hill Cemetery in upper Georgetown is as historic as it is scenic. Join tour guide Craig Howell on this walking tour to the gravesites of Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; William Corcoran, philanthropist who established the Corcoran Gallery of Art; Philip and Kay Graham of The Washington Post; Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War under Lincoln; and local sportscaster Glenn Brenner.

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 a variety of communities. Come hear stories of radical lesbian separatists, First Amendment fights, the underpinning of LGBT religious organizations, interactions with Marines, the community's response to AIDS, and other tales from seven decades of gay and lesbian life in the shadow of the Capitol. Outdoor tour only.

Reviving Historic Woodlawn Cemetery -- Discover the history of those interred in Historic Woodlawn Cemetery. Hear how burials cover before the Civil War thru the 1990's. Woodlawn reflects the integrated history of the District of Columbia as it includes politicians, homemakers, Congressmen and many veterans. Hear about the burial that sparked the lynching of John Brown (which may feel precipitated the Civil War).  Learn about the military service reflected in Woodlawn that spans the Civil War thru the Korean War of men and a valiant WWI African American nurse.  The tour takes place outside. We recommend you wear sturdy shoes and long sleeves.

Rich and Powerful: Eight Homes of Presidents and the World's Richest Man -- Saunter through the long-coveted neighborhoods that seven presidents and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos chose for their personal abodes. Eyeball President Clinton's traditional colonial home, six other presidential homes, and the former museum that Bezos renovated into his home away from home, tucked between lavish embassies and the mini-mansions of Washington's power elite. 

 Rising Tides of DC -- Sea levels are rising, our portion of the Chesapeake Basin is "settling" and Washington DC is projected to see a dramatic increase in tidal flooding in the next 10 to 30 years. In fact, experts predict that DC will experience tidal flooding that is twice as bad as any city along the East Coast!  On this bike tour we will go rollin' along the rivers, canal ways and flood prone areas of our great city, which also happen to be some of the more scenic and vibrant neighborhoods. This casual 6- to 8-mile ride will include a few city streets, streets with bike lanes, bike trails, and even a few sidewalks (where it is legal to do so) as well as several stops along the way.  Please bring your own bike.

Shaw: Where DC Comes Together, Part I -- Once consisting of woods and a few farms, DC's Shaw neighborhood has always been a crossroads. 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. Today, the Washington Convention Center dominates the neighborhood's southern half.  Nearby, historic buildings house vibrant neighborhood activity. Learn about the social history of selected areas of Shaw and see the interiors of some of its historic buildings.

Shaw: Where DC Comes Together, Part II -- 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 professional baseball teams. Tour highlights include renovated buildings that once held movie theaters and the first African American YWCA in the District.

Southwest Waterfront and The Wharf -- Washington's southwest waterfront morphed from a small collection of late 18th-century brick buildings along the Potomac River to a large group of mid-1960s structures of steel and concrete. In between, the riverside has been the site of the execution of the "Lincoln Conspirators", a clinic providing medical treatment to neighbors regardless of race or economic status, fish and produce sellers, and even bodies on ice in the District of Columbia morgue. Today, The Wharf replaces charmless urban renewal era real estate with brand new mixed-use buildings. Come explore the new southwest.

Southwest Waterfront: Change, Change, Change and a Blending of the Old and the New -- See the latest redevelopment of the southwest waterfront (The Wharf) and the adjacent, mostly residential, neighborhood. A working-class neighborhood until the 1950s, nearly all of the waterfront community was razed to create something new in one of the nation's first urban renewal experiments. Now the neighborhood is a mix of mid-20th century multi-story and townhouse residential projects; older row houses and apartments; recent retail, office, and residential projects; and a few historic properties. Explore the neighborhood and learn more about its history, residents, culture, development, and redevelopment.

Springland Farm: America's Most Important Vineyard -- Tour the historic Springland Farm that was established in 1800 by Revolutionary War hero John Adlum circa 1814 and was arguably the most important vineyard in the history of the United States. The farm became the home to the National Bureau of Standards (1905-1966), University of the District of Columbia (1968-present), and the International Chancery Center (1968-present), which is home to 16 embassies. Share the fascinating 217-year history of the Farm and its progeny. This tour is includes navigating a bumpy 33-foot trail, which is neither wheelchair nor stroller accessible.

Tenleytown: In Search of the Village Life -- Discover the traces of Tenleytown's rural past and learn about the events, institutions, and people that transformed it into a thriving DC neighborhood. Tour highlights include the site of a Civil War fort, a convent, the home of the Dunblane fox-hunting club, and a historic cemetery. Tour takes place outside only, no interior locations.

The Great Agnostic: Robert G. Ingersoll in Washington, DC -- Robert G. Ingersoll was a 19th Century champion of free thought, women's rights, civil rights, and DC voting rights. This famous orator and critic of religion toured the United States and delivered more than 1,300 speeches to packed houses. Ingersoll lived and worked in Washington, DC, arguing cases before the Supreme Court, lobbying Congress and consulting with Presidents. This tour will visit the sites of his two DC homes, one of which was on Lafayette Square, and the places where he worked and spoke in downtown Washington, DC.

The Mansions of Meridian Hill -- Explore the mansions of the Meridian Hill neighborhood and their significance in the history of the neighborhood. Learn about the unique architecture of the homes, the importance of Meridian Hill Park, and the historical figures that influenced the neighborhood.

Tregaron Conservancy: From Private Estate to Public Woodland Garden -- The Tregaron Conservancy began 12 years ago as the owner and steward of a historic woodland landscape nestled between the Cleveland and Woodley Park neighborhoods. The wooded area is part of the Tregaron Estate and together, the property is both a national and DC landmark. The celebrated (and pioneering) landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman designed Tregaron's wild gardens a century ago, in collaboration with renowned architect Charles Adams Platt.  Tour the conservancy trails, woodlands, meadows and pond valley as you learn about Tregaron's history and the Conservancy's ongoing work to restore and steward the landscape. Of note: The trails are mulched and uneven in places. A few stone stairways do not have handrails. Please wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes.

Washington's Historic Downtown Theaters – Walk with NPR's Bob Mondello on this one-of-a-kind tour of two iconic cultural institutions – National Theatre and Ford's Theatre.  Established in 1835, National Theatre is the oldest continuously operating theatre in DC and has been home to many celebrated national productions. At Ford's Theatre, uncover the details of the conspiracy to kill President Abraham Lincoln as you relive the actions of key players onstage and off, and stand in the spot where Booth waited outside the President's Box. Together, the National Theatre and Ford's Theatre capture the essence of great theatre, rooted in a tumultuous past and looking, always, to a vibrant and challenging future. Great stages and downtown D.C. go hand in hand!

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 to the home of DC's black intelligentsia. Neighborhood notables included Dr. Anna J. Cooper, 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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