Washington, D.C - Around Town : The White House and Foggy Bottom (part 1)

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The Majestic White House clearly defines this area of the city – everyday business in Washington frequently takes place around the house because the major east-west routes, Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, are close by. Many government buildings stand in the vicinity, including the old and new Executive Office Buildings, the Federal Reserve Building, and the State and Treasury Departments. To the west lies Foggy Bottom, a former swamp area now home to George Washington University. Farther west, the Kennedy Center stands on the waterfront. Throughout the area, as one would expect, restaurants, hotels, and shops provide the quality of service required by high-profile diplomats and politicians.

George Washington University

For the last 50 years, GWU has been a major presence in Foggy Bottom, contributing to its diversity and filling its streets with the energy of young students. Founded as Columbian College in 1821, the school adopted its current name in 1904 to honor the wishes expressed by George Washington for the establishment of a major university in the city.

  1. The White House

    Beautiful from any angle and still glowing from its repainting in the 1990s, the White House is a symbol of US political power and of democracy throughout the world.

    The White House
  2. Kennedy Center

    A memorial to President John F. Kennedy, this huge performance complex – the largest in the country – presents the best expressions of the artistic culture he loved so well. National and international stars perform opera, concerts, musical comedy, drama, jazz, dance, and ballet, and even experimental multimedia productions. Located overlooking the Potomac, its terraces and rooftop restaurant have dazzling views .

    • New Hampshire Ave at Rock Creek Parkway, NW

    • Dis. access

    Kennedy Center
  3. Corcoran Gallery of Art

    This 1897 building is among the finest Beaux Arts designs in the United States. Note the atrium with its symmetrical stairway. The art collection inside includes some of the very best of American and European masterworks. In the American art collection, works by the Hudson River School and the Luminists are especially strong .

    • 500 17th St, NW (at New York Ave)

    • Open 10am–5pm Wed–Mon (until 9pm Thu); closed federal holidays

    • Guided tours noon Wed–Fri, 7:30pm Thu

    • Dis. access

    • Adm (free Thu evening)

    Corcoran Gallery statue
  4. Renwick Gallery

    This Smithsonian museum is a gem, with its displays of fine craft works. The second-floor Grand Salon served as a ballroom and site for special events when the Corcoran Gallery was located here before 1897. The room has been completely refurbished and a modern lighting system installed. The 1859 structure, named after its architect, James Renwick, Jr, is a marvelous Second Empire-style building .

    • Pennsylvania Ave at 17th St, NW

    • Open 10am–5:30pm daily; closed Dec 25

    • Free

    • Dis. access

    Renwick Gallery entrance detail
  5. Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

    This is another Second Empire building, but on a mammoth scale. Many people consider its highly embellished style and daunting proportions – 300,000 sq ft (27,871 sq m) of office space on five stories – to be magnificent, but Mark Twain called it “the ugliest building in America.” The Departments of State, Navy, and War were housed here on its completion in 1888. Today it is home to offices for executive branch employees and the vice president.

    • 17th St and Pennsylvania Ave, NW

    • Open Sat by appt. only

    • tel 202 395 5895

  6. Treasury Building

    The Greek-Revival style of this old building, designed in 1833, suggests a Temple of Money, and the imposing interior design confirms the seriousness with which the republic has always treated its currency. The restored Salmon P. Chase Suite and the Andrew Johnson Office reflect the gravity of official actions during and after the Civil War. The burglar-proof vault is always a hit with visitors because of the beauty of its cast-iron walls and its demonstration of the low security needs of a simpler day .

    • 1500 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

    • Tours by appt only: 202 622 2000

    Liberty Bell, Treasury Building
  7. The Octagon Museum

    This unique and graceful building houses the oldest architecture museum in the country. The house was completed in 1801 – one of the first private residences to be built to Pierre L’Enfant’s plan – and provided shelter to President James Madison and his family while workers were rebuilding the White House after its destruction during the War of 1812. The exhibitions of the museum focus especially on the early Federal period of architecture, principally from 1800 to 1830. The finest display is the restoration of the house itself, designed by William Thornton, the original architect of the US Capitol, as a second home for John Tayloe III, a wealthy friend of George Washington.

    • 1799 New York Ave

    • Tours by appt only

    • Adm

    • Dis. access

    The Octagon Museum
  8. Organization of American States

    The OAS’s beautiful building, with its three round-topped arches, is one of the area’s architectural delights. The OAS Art Museum of the Americas has a permanent collection of Western Hemisphere art that is one of the most important in the US. The Organization of American States is a cooperative association of all 35 countries of the hemisphere to promote economic development, protect human rights, and strengthen democracy.

    • 17th St at Constitution Ave, NW


    • 201 18th St, NW

    • Open 9am–3pm Mon–Fri; closed Jan 1, Good Friday, Thanks-giving, Dec 25

    • Free

    Organization of American States
  9. Daughters of the American Revolution

    The largest concert hall in the city is in Constitution Hall, the grand performance space operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The cornerstone of this John Russell Pope design was laid in 1928, using the same trowel George Washington used for the US Capitol building cornerstone in 1793. The DAR also has a fascinating museum of early American artifacts, ranging from a simple 17th-century dwelling to an elaborate Victorian parlor. The DAR is a patriotic organization that fosters understanding and respect for the heritage of the United States.


    • D St and 18th St, NW

    • Open 9:30am– 4pm Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm Sat; closed 2 weeks in July

    • Free

  10. Federal Reserve Building

    Another gleaming white design by Paul P. Cret, architect of the Folger Shakespeare Library. The Federal Reserve System is the central banking authority in the United States, regulating and facilitating both banking and the flow of currency and financial transactions.

    • C St between 20th and 21 Sts, NW

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