An enormous Thank You
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
Anonymous Donation in honor of WalkingTown DC Volunteers for Hidden Gems of SE: Hillcrest Architecture
We appreciate your generosity!
Donate $250 or more and become an underwriter of a WalkingTown DC Tour.
Thank you for your interest in WalkingTown DC. The 2020 edition of this annual event will be September 14-22. To give you a sense of what to expect, please see the descriptions below of a selection of the amazing tours we offered in September 2019. Then mark you calendar to check this site in August 2020 to read about the tours we'll offer for Walking Town DC 2020!
SELECTED 2019 TOURS
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: 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.