Pay Tribute to Our Past Presidents

June 18, 2013

The national holiday, Presidents’ Day, was originally a commemoration of George Washington’s birthday. America’s first president was born on Feb. 22, 1732. After George Washington’s death, America began celebrating his birthday as a way to remember his life and how he contributed to establishing America’s independence.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon combined Lincoln’s birthday with Washington’s and ever since we have honored all past presidents on the third Monday of February. On Feb. 20, there will be the grand opening Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. This free full day of programming begins with a National Park Service wreath laying at 8:45 a.m. in honor of Lincoln’s birthday. The open house features an author discussion with John Stauffer, ranger talks, performances of Papa Day, Tales of the Lincoln with storyteller Jon Spelman and One Destiny and special Civil War-era music performed by the Washington Revels. Visitors are welcome to see the center’s new exhibits and participate in workshops. Tickets will be available beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Over at the Newseum, “Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press” will open just in time for Presidents Day. The exhibit explores how media coverage of presidential campaigns has evolved from William McKinley’s 1896 front-porch campaign to Barack Obama’s 2008 Internet campaign, as candidates and reporters tangle over issues, images and control of the story. The exhibit also features interactive activities and an original video production on televised campaign ads, shown on a 100-foot-wide video screen in the Newseum’s big-screen theater.

Home & Garden, in the Winter

Looking to spruce up your home or complete some last-minute lingering projects? Attend one of the upcoming Spring Washington Home & Garden Shows and meet area experts in home design and renovation, discover the latest developments in green home products and snag cutting-edge creative ideas. The shows showcase hundreds of products and services for your home and garden and include celebrity appearances, entertaining workshops and much more. From March 9 to 11 at the Washington Convention Center, there will be hundreds of displays of products and flowers all in one convenient location. Visit the Garden Marketplace with everything from water lilies to bamboo table fountains to exotic bulbs, orchids, bonsai to cut flowers and garden gizmos. Find everything for kitchens, baths, remodeling, flooring, granite & marble, professional grade appliances and architectural antiques. Hours are Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

DC Independent Film Festival coming soon

The Washington, D.C., Independent Film Festival is an award-winning event that showcases more than 100 feature, short, animation and documentary films by local, national and international filmmakers. After each session there is a question-and-answer discussion where top executives from AOL, Discovery Communications, National Geographic and PBS talk answer questions. It also runs in tandem with the entertainment each night. From hip-hop, to an open mike night, to gospel, to the closing night performance by Gibraltar, a North African Band from Algeria and Morocco, performances vary. The festival starts on Feb. 29 and runs until March 4 at the Navy Memorial Heritage Center at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Tickets to film sessions are $10, and seminars are $25 per seminar.

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Finalized

Four months ago, a $10-million federal grant was issued to build a missing segment of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, connecting two jurisdictions. About two weeks ago, the design for the four-mile trail project—called the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens segment—was unveiled. It includes a paved 10- to 12-foot- wide asphalt and concrete boardwalk sections that meander around trees and wetlands in the Aquatic Gardens and other National Park Service lands, sidewalks through the Mayfair and Parkside communities and raised walkways and five bridges over Anacostia River tributaries as it passes between D.C. and Maryland near U.S. Route 50. The final link will run between Benning Road and Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Maryland, linking the state’s nearly 40-mile trail network throughout the Anacostia River Tributary System to the planned 20-mile Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in D.C.—12 miles of which are already open and heavily used.

Craft Away the Holidays

The Washington Craft Show opens Nov. 16 for all holiday needs. The annual show at the Washington Convention Center runs through Nov. 18 and features a wide variety of contem- porary crafts including metal, leather, basketry, jewelry, ceramics and glass. It is one of the nation’s leading events of contemporary craft, bringing together more than 190 accomplished craft artists, who create timeless works to use, wear and display all year. The show celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, which also hap- pens to be the 50th anniversary of studio art glass in the USA. It’s a juried show, drawing the best work from across the nation. Times go from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature a special exhibit by the Maurine Littleton Gallery of Washington, D.C., to celebrate the 50th anni- versary of Studio Art Glass in America, book signings by professor and author Joan Falconer Byrd, the author of “Harvey K. Littleton: A Life in Glass,” lectures on art, and a fashion show on Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. the work of three dozen designers and jewelry makers.

NYU Opens Academic Center

New York University opened a multipurpose academic facility at 1307 L Street last month with 75,000-square-feet and the first site outside of New York and its most recent addition to a network of teaching and research centers, now comprising 14 sites on five continents. The 12-story building includes six floors of dormitories and will ultimately house 120 students per semester enrolled in courses or pursuing internships and provide living and work space for faculty. The 60-foot wide site also features state-of-the-art classrooms, research space and a 140-seat auditorium. It is applying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification for the building.

Downtown Observer Oct. 19, 2011

Celebrate Halloween With Some Culture

Day of the Dead / Los Días de los Muertos, a Mexican custom honoring and remembering those who have died, begins on midnight on Oct. 31, the night of Halloween. At the National Museum of the American Indian from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, they will hold a festival that includes live entertainment and hands-on craft activities including demonstrations of traditional papel picado (“cut paper work”), Sugar Skulls, Ofrenda (“Altar” or “offering”) featuring Guatemalan kites, paper sculpture and paper mache. Across the river at the Torpedo Factor in Alexandria on Oct. 29 from 8 to 11 p.m., there will be a costume dance party including music, dancing, a costume contest, miniature altar project and bubble gum painting.

Running For Office May Have Gotten Easier

There are hundreds of empty seats on D.C. city commissions. Nearly one in every seven of the city’s boards and commissions that help run the District’s business sits empty more than nine months into the new mayoral administration as few resources have been funneled to the massive effort, according to the Washington Examiner.

Just one full-time employee staffs the city’s Office of Boards and Commissions, which is responsible for finding and vetting the mayor’s nominations to the city’s more than 150 boards and commissions.
“I walked into an administration where the previous administration had left a large number of board seats unfilled,” Ron Collins, the office’s director, told the Examiner.

Some boards, essential to conducting the business of serving city residents, remain empty. Most recently, the council extended the Oct. 1 deadline to form the new Real Property Tax Appeals Commission, which hears and makes decisions on taxpayer appeals. Members of the former appeals board were granted a service extension.

The new board was pushed for last year by then-Mayor-elect Vincent Gray, who has created full-time and part-time salaried positions to professionalize the board. However, the new requirements also make it harder to fill seats on the board.

For example, commissioners must be licensed appraisers. But, according to the Appraisal Institute’s database, there are only 130 MAI-certified appraisers in the D.C. area.

There’s No Where to Hide

Adverse to parking tickets? Then you better watch out: the District Department of Public Works is now taking photographs of some parking infractions that led to tickets. It’s called evidence. The agency is using TicPix, a tool that allows drivers to see images of an alleged violation online 72 hours after a ticket is issued, and up to 90 days afterward. TicPix could help reduce and resolve disputes over parking tickets, of which DPW wrote 1.5 million in fiscal 2010. Images will not be posted for more than a dozen violations, including overtime at a meter, snow regulation and excessive idling.

Celebrate LGBTQ Community With ARace

The DC Drag Queen Race is one of the Washington, D.C. area’s more unique Halloween events. Each year on the Tuesday before Halloween, thousands of spectators flock to Dupont Circle to watch costumed drag queens show off their elaborate outfits and race down 17th Street. The informal block party lasts a few hours and attracts a diverse crowd. Join the crowd on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 6 p.m., on 17th Street between P and S Streets, N.W.

Any Animal Lovers Out There? This Show Is For You.

The Washington International Horse Show is a championship event with approximately 600 horses and riders competing for more than $400,000 in prize money and championship titles. Highlights of the event include adrenaline-fueled show jumpers, dancing dressage horses, classic equitation, picture-perfect hunters and action-packed barrel races and humorous terrier races. This year, the opening night trainers party will be held at Zaytinya on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday evening, there will be a welcome party at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana. The show lasts from Oct. 25 through 30 at the Verizon Center and generally go from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. with tickets ranging from $15 to $70. VIP seats include premium arena-level seating and a complimentary WIHS program book. Visit for more information.

No More Worries About Being Mugged While Adding Money

Adding money to your SmarTrip card just got easier. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority now allows customers to reload their SmarTrip cards via the Internet. All you need is a registered SmarTrip card and a SmarTrip account on Metro’s website — The system accepts all major credit cards, and transactions are completed once you touch your card to a Metrorail fare gate, vending machine or bus fare box. You must, however, allow up to one business day for the money to be transferred when using the fare gate or vending machine, and up to three business days at the bus fare box. Well, two out of three ain’t bad: you can avoid using cash and standing in line. Have questions? Call 888-762-7874 for more information.

Run, Run, Run!

The Marine Corps Marathon, the annual race known as the “The People’s Marathon” brings together runners from all walks of life to participate in a patriotic race and a day of family-friendly activities on Oct. 30 at 7:50 a.m. The traditional Marine Corps Marathon course is 26.2 miles and a 10K race also allows runners of all ages to join in a shorter 6.2-mile event. The race field is limited to 30,000 participants and is expected to fill up quickly. An $88 registration fee includes all race materials, bib, mock neck participant shirt, goodie bag, a three month subscription to Runners World, courtesy of Saturn and single use souvenir commemorative chip. Runners will also receive a free subscription to the online virtual trainer, designed by Olympian Jeff Galloway. Participants will opt-in for daily or weekly emails featuring training tips to achieve a variety of finish time goals, plus health, fitness and nutrition messages. The weekend includes additional events including a Health and Fitness Expo, the Healthy Kids Fun Run, Crystal Run (a festival in Crystal City) and the Marine Corps Marathon Finish Festival.

Readers Can Still Get Books for Free on Sunday

Forget about Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library (901 G St., N.W.) being shuttered on Sundays because of fiscal 2012 budgetary concerns. In the 11th hour, the city announced that funding will be available to keep the library open seven days a week, as it has continuously operated since 1972, the year it opened. Sunday hours are 1 to 5 p.m. For more about the library, visit
Bustling Downtown Adds More Bustle

A lot is coming to downtown retail. Opening this month: Anthropologie (950 F St.), the women’s apparel and accessory chain; Le Pain Quotidien (975 F St.), the casual French eatery and Corner Bakery Café (777 6th S.), offering hearth-baked breads, sandwiches, salads, soups and home-style sweets. By year’s end Leica Camera will join Le Pain Quotidien in the Carroll Square building and Seaton Benkowski & Partners. Both retailers have signed 10-year leases, filling the last available retail bays in the building, now 100 percent leased. Leica’s boutique — the company’s first stand-alone store in the country — will include a product showroom, image gallery, and a studio.

Jimmy John’s to Open This Fall Downtown

Jimmy John’s (1101 14th St.), the sub franchise, will open this fall, as will The Federalist (1177 15th St.), which will be located in the Madison Hotel and serving up dishes inspired by 18th century American food lovers. In addition, Caldo (300 Massachusetts Ave.), an Italian restaurant, plans to open in the Mass Court apartment building. No word yet on a date. Already up and running: Hard Times Café, the award-winning chili and wings eatery that opened as a concession stand in the Verizon Center (601 F St.) last month.

Hit Up History with a New Museum

To the sprightly, upbeat salute of a six-piece brass band, American women writers turn a new page Monday, Feb. 13, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the 1275 K Street, NW, grand opening of the nation’s first museum honoring American women writers, both historical and contemporary.?

Roberta Shaffer, associate librarian for library services at the Library of Congress, will keynote, reading from favorite American women writers. The loved-by-everybody Salvation Army brass ensemble will entertain.
“Women purchase 70 percent of books sold in America. Audiences for literary events are predominantly female, as are the fields of librarians and literary agents. Yet until now, no national venue existed to showcase our writers such as Abigail Adams, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, to name just a few talents,” AWWNM founder Janice Law said. Networking support, while scouting a high visibility, affordable rent, downtown location, took Law almost a year. Using her monthly Social Security check plus savings as ballast, Law rented the startup, shared, storefront space, with entrance on 13th St NW as a temporary perch. For initial “stuff” at the Feb. 13 grand opening, Law purchased children’s art from San Jose Clinic, a long-time Houston institution sponsored by the Charity Guild of Catholic Women.?For more information go to

City Officials Talk Nighttime Economy

This month, the Nighttime Economy Summit was held at The Hamilton, Downtown’s new 24-hour restaurant and entertainment venue, which opened last month.

“Let’s commit to do something this year,” urged D.C. Council chairman Kwame Brown, who delivered brief remarks. “It will be tough because people think they don’t want nightlife in their areas. But the definition of nightlife today is different. We have to explain to people what it means,” stressing that it can be both vibrant and safe.

Hosted by the D.C. BID Council, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, the Washington, D.C., Economic Partnership, and the D.C. Nightlife Association, the summit attracted more than 75 participants, including business organizations, city officials and business owners, who recognize that D.C.’s economy is diversifying rapidly. While they discussed growing the evening economy, which includes restaurants, bars, theaters, and sports and entertainment venues, they also identified key issues of concern and sought to get a comprehensive understanding of what a nighttime economy entails.

Restaurants Downtown Go Through Changes

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, will open a block from Metro Center in January, in time for Inauguration Day. The carryout res- taurant will offer about a dozen donut flavors, ranging from peanut butter and jelly to crème brulee, and fried chicken served either with but- termilk, a rub of dry spices or a sriracha glaze. Jose Andres is planning to reopen his acclaimed Minibar restaurant this month at 505 9th St., NW, the former home of Zola Wine & Kitchen. With the expanded space come expanded prices: the tasting menus will be $225 per person, up from $150. Andres and his company, Think Food Group, sold the building at 405 8th St., NW that once housed the restaurant and two others—the unique, pop-up restaurant America Eats Tavern and Café Atlantico. Belgian chef Frederik De Pue and his backers purchased the building and may open another restaurant this year. Also coming: Chix DC (1121 14th Street), the green restaurant with a Latin flair, will offer healthy fare in 2,200 square feet of space. Taylor Gourmet, the Italian deli and market specializ- ing in authentic hoagies and market goods, will replace Meatballs, the short-lived casual eatery, at 624 E Street.

Point Chaud Café & Crepes’s second Downtown location opened for business last month at 1100 New York Avenue. The open kitchen offers sweet and savory French pan- cakes, Illy—the authentic Italian espresso cof- fee—fresh gelato, smoothies and other fare. Embers Grill (80 F Street), serving up kabob, burgers, and side dishes such as chickpeas and hummus, also opened last month and is located near New Jersey Avenue.