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'Other' Washington DC Sites You Must Visit

We all know the National Mall with all its museums and monuments, but what are the other places to visit in DC?

By John LimboPublished 3 years ago 6 min read
The National Cathedral

Whenever we think of Washington DC attractions, the museums, monuments, and government buildings in and around the National Mall is the first thing that comes to mind.

But there are more to visit in Washington DC, that can spare you from the throngs of tourists that visit the Federal City every day.

Here are some of our suggestions of places that you may want to include to your itinerary the next time you tour Washington DC.

National Cathedral

The Washington National Cathedral is a one-of-a-kind place where sacred and civic life in the nation's capital meet. Built in the neo-Gothic architectural style, complete with magnificent stained-glass windows, flying buttresses, and eerie gargoyles, the cathedral looks older than its actual age. Construction began in 1907 and was completed 83 years later in 1990. Despite being a lot newer than its European, the National Cathedral can absolutely hold its own in terms of beauty and grandeur. In addition to its religious importance, memorials of national significance also fill the cathedral. Among its stained glass is the Space Window which depicts Apollo 11's moon landing, with a fragment of lunar rock at its center. Statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are also inside the cathedral, while state flags adorn the nave. The cathedral also has sprawling grounds with herb plants, roses, and a 13th-century arch. And for the hungry soul, there's also a cafe serving coffee, pastries, brunch, and lunch located in the 1904 Old Baptistry.

Arlington National Cemetery

Just a stone's throw across the Potomac River from Washington DC, Arlington National Cemetery is located. The site is the largest United States military cemetery where more than 400,000 soldiers and immediate family are buried since the Civil War. The cemetery serves as a memorial to the thousands of lives who gave their lives in the name of freedom. Veterans and their families from the battlefronts of the Middle East, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the two World Wars, and the American Civil War have been interred on these sacred grounds. Some notable sites and burials at the Arlington National Cemetery are the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy, USS Maine Mast Memorial, the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, and the Cross of Sacrifice. Visitors can also witness the elaborate and solemn ceremony of the Changing of the Guard - where a sentinel seamlessly takes over the guard duty for the previous sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Arlington National Cemetery

Frederick Douglass Home

Perched on a hilltop in Anacostia, this historic estate offers a panoramic view of the US Capitol and the Washington DC skyline. The grand Victorian home is where Frederick Douglass, an African American slave-turned-orator, lived from 1877 until he died in 1895. Park rangers take visitors on a guided tour around the house to learn the life and struggles of one of the most prominent African Americans of the 19th-century. Personal items such as his writing table, eyeglasses, canes, his piano, and kitchen table are all on display. Through the items, visitors learn his life story from his childhood, his freedom from enslavement, his campaign for the abolition of slavery, up to his death at the same house.

Mary McLeod Bethune’s Home

The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, located in the Logan Circle neighborhood, preserves the home of Bethune, an African-American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, and civil rights activist. She founded the National Council for Negro Women, an organization that aims to advance the quality of life of African-American women and their families. The house in Washington DC became the council's first headquarters. The NCNW occupied the first and second floors, while Bethune lived on the third floor. The house still preserves the remaining of Bethune's personal belongings after a fire destroyed some of her original furnishings. Aside from Bethune's life, the house and the archives celebrate the lives of women who have made significant contributions to the African-American community.

Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial

Not far away from the Bethune Council House is Lincoln Park, where the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial stands. The monument to this great educator and civil rights activist is the first memorial in honor of an African-American woman to be erected in a public park in Washington DC. The monument depicts an elderly Mary McLeod Bethune leaning on a cane handing a scroll to two children. The gesture symbolize the knowledge and love for learning she handed down to the youth so that they learn the value of education. The cane she is holding is said to represent the cane that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt gave to her. The statue made by Robert Berks was unveiled in celebration of her 99th birthday, before a crowd of 18,000 people.

Carter G. Woodson Home

This three-story Italianate brick rowhouse in 1518 Ninth St. NW became the home of Carter G. Woodson for the last 28 years of his life. Born to enslaved parents and was self-educated until the age of 20 when he got the chance to attend formal schooling, Woodson rose to prominence when he became the second African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University. He then used his influence to advance the lives of people of color by pioneering the documentation of the lives and contributions of African-Americans to US history. He also founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life with his home as the first office. A year later he began to publish the Journal of Negro History, now known as the Journal of African American History. Because of these, Carter G. Woodson became known as the 'father of African-American history.' The site now preserves his residence and the original headquarters of the organization he founded.

Carter G. Woodson Memorial

Located in 1538 9th St. NW, just a block away from his home, the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Park honors the scholar, educator, and historian considered as the 'father of black history.' The monument added in an existing park portrays the bronze statue of Woodson sitting on a circular stone bench with a manuscript on his left hand commemorating his contribution in recording the history of African-Americans. At the back of the bench, a quote from his book The Story of the Negro Retold is engraved. The inscription says, "Truth comes to us from the past, then, like gold washed down from the mountains."

Lincoln Theatre

The Lincoln Theatre, located in U Street - Washington's Black Broadway, became the city's art hub for African-Americans when segregation disallowed them to other venues. The theatre has a moviehouse and a ballroom and became a venue for jazz and big band performances. Constructed nearly a century ago, the theatre initially showed vaudeville and silent fils for the city's black community. President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to celebrate his birthday parties at the theatre's party hall. Washington-born artists Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey, with other musical legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and Sarah Vaughn, regularly performed on the famed stage. After falling to disrepair in the 1960s that led to its closing in the 1980s, it reopened after restoration in 1994. Currently, it continues to be a cultural center in DC's U Street district.

Howard Theatre

Built in 1910 in the Shaw neighborhood around Howard University, this theatre is recognized to be the first Black theatre in the United States. It was established as an entertainment hub for African-Americans who were not allowed in other venues. Since its founding, the Howard Theatre has been a historic hub for many Black music legends who performed on its storied stage. Before entering national fame, the theater became known among the locals for its amateur open-mic events and its band contests. Washington native Duke Ellington, one of the most important jazz artists in history, won many of such contests at the Howard Theatre. Like the Lincoln, the Howard Theatre also fell into disrepair after the riots following Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968. This led to its forced closure in 1980. In 2012, the theater was revived and once again opened its doors to a new generation of artists while celebrating its glorious past and honoring the legends who once performed in its famed stage.


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