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Friday, March 28, 2014

Learning to Like Washington

I think I mentioned in another post that my last visit to Washington, D.C. over 20 years ago left me with a very poor impression of the capital city.

I'm now in a position to make a more nuanced evaluation.  Here's what I like and don't like so far about the city.

I'm not fond of the gray.  All the buildings around the the Hill are certainly imposing but rather stark.   Now I'm someone who thinks that the Versailles castle is a gaudy monstrosity but the architecture around the capitol left me cold and yearning for color.

Perhaps it all looks better in the spring and summer when the trees bloom, turn green and give the eyes some relief from the monotonous gray stone.

The security is also a real pain.  Every door at every building had the same drill:  run everything through the machine, including yourself.  Fortunately there are tunnels that run under the street from one building to another so if you don't care about sunshine and fresh air, you can avoid the security hassle by staying underground the entire day.

I do like the neighborhood we are staying in:  Adams Morgan.  It's a residential area that looks to be gentrifying.  Some lovely houses and apartment buildings. Lots of color - a real relief from the Hill.  The apartment we are renting for the week is lovely with hardwood floors, a kitchen and two bedrooms.  Here are a few pictures:

Apartment/houses in Adams Morgan
Senator Patty Murray's office

This morning we had a meeting with the American Bankers Association and then we returned to the Hill for a few more meetings.  I had a chance to meet with someone in Senator Patty Murray's office (Washington State).  The senator's offices were really something - wood paneling on the walls and nice cushy chairs to sit in.

There was also a stunning sculpture by Calder in the courtyard of the Hart building.

After that meeting we had to be over at Treasury in the late afternoon so we decided to walk and finally I found something to love in Washington:  the Botanic Garden.

I could have stayed there all day but the last meeting of the day was a must (Treasury) so we left, walked past the Washington Monument and arrived at our destination with enough time to sit on a bench, rest our feet, and have something to eat and drink before entering the building.

And the day ended with a debriefing and a drink at the Old Ebbitt Grill.


kermitzii said...

I visited WA DC from the other WA in 1965. I knew nothing about politics then. You did not report on the quake damage. Exactly 50 years ago the largest recorded quake in North America occurred in AK.

DL NELSON said...

I loved DC when my daughter lived in DC because of the Smithsonian and the where I could move in for a month to see all the exhibits.

Thank you again for your efforts. Let's chat when we're both back in France.


Blaze said...

Learning to like D.C.?!? Please tell me you're not going over to the dark side!

I was sad to learn the myths weren't able to introduce themselves to Mr. Stack O'Lies.

Tim said...
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Tim said...

This is just my personal opinion but why bother meeting with the Treasury if Stack refuses to meet with you. Stack is the one making all the decisions not people under him.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@DL Nelson, You bet. Let's talk after I get home and get some rest.

@blaze, It's not a bad city. I wouldn't want to live here though...

About meeting Mr. Stack. Here's one thing I learned here during the week. The guys at the top generally don't know much as the staffers do. And, surprisingly enough, the guys at the top frequently AREN'T the ones making the decisions. Some are arrived at by the staff who uses their own discretion in certain areas. Others come directly from Congress and they dont' have the power to change much when the law comes down. A good example of this is the 10,000 threshold for the FBAR. The Bank Secrecy Act says 10,000 USD and so they are stuck with it (and yep the folks we talked to think it is ridiculously low). It would take an act of Congress to change it. And good luck with that these days....

Tim said...

I am trying to find some links but a while back a read some articles about the historical connection in the 1930s between neo-classical architecture that was common in the 1930s in Washington and London and fascist architecture in Berlin and Rome. For lack of better term both architectural movement are linked far more than people realize(going to show in 1930s the global popularity of fascist symbols).

*One interesting city lacking in neo classical architecture(other than Paris to some degree) is Ottawa. Most buildings of the government of Canada unlike those of Washington DC are post war modernist buildings(Pierre Trudeau was a huge fan of modernist architecture).

The original Bank of Canada building in 1935 did have some neo-classical themes but was later overbuilt into the current structure. This video gives a good overview of what happened.

Arthur Erickson was a close personal friend of Pierre Trudeau