Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia, is the capital of the
United States. Named in honor of George Washington, the City of Washington
was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. The centers of
all three branches of the federal government of the United States are in the
District, including the Congress, President, and Supreme Court. Washington is
home to many national monuments and museums, which are primarily situated on or
around the National Mall, a large, open park in downtown Washington between the
Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol.
Getting there ...
The main reason
for this trip was because Iris was going to represent the Silicon Valley Chinese
School to participate the Northern American Chinese Culture Competition in
Washington DC . Iris and Woanyu has flown with her teammates to DC on
Thursday (8/9) since the competition was on Saturday (8/11). Linus and I
took a red-eye flight on Friday night (11PM on 8/10) and arrived in Baltimore on
Saturday early morning. Although we got an upgrade to the 1st class, I did
not sleep too well on the airplane. Linus was still very sleepy
when we got our rental car and fell asleep many times
while I was asking for driving directions, so we made a few wrong turns on the
The First Day ...
- Arlington National Cemetery
I decided to make a quick tour to the Iwo Jima Memorial
National Cemetery as my first stop in Washington DC.
Situated in Arlington County, Virginia - just outside of Washington, DC,
Arlington National Cemetery is a large military cemetery
established during the Civil War on the estate of the family of Confederate
General Robert E. Lee. In an area of 624 acres (253 ha), veterans and
military casualties from each of the nation's wars are interred in the
cemetery, ranging from the American Civil War through to the military
actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Twin Oaks Estate
After the Chinese Culture Competition
(Iris' team was the 5th place out of 7 teams, and Iris and her teammates
were so sad after the
competition....), all the teams were invited to visit the Twin Oaks Estate in DC,
which was home to nine ROC Ambassadors between
1937 and 1978, and still belongs to the ROC government in Taiwan. The
26 room mansion and the 18.1 acres of land comprise the
Twin Oaks Estate. In 1888, Mr. Gardiner Green Hubbard (founder and
first president of the National Geographic Society) acquired the property
and then commissioned one of America's leading architects at the time, the
Paris-trained Richard Allen to build a summer retreat. On June 8,
1937, the family rented the house to the new ambassador from the Republic of
China, Thomas C. T. Wang, the representative of the Chiang Kai-shek
government in Nanking. In 1947, the Hubbard family sold Twin Oaks for
$450,000 to the Republic of China represented by Ambassador Wellington Koo.
Perhaps the most interesting story of all involves the sale of Twin Oaks on
Dec. 22, 1978 to an American civic organization. Just seven days earlier,
President Carter had unexpectedly announced that the United States would, on
Jan. 1, shift diplomatic recognition from the ROC government on Taiwan to
the PRC. Fearing that the PRC would claim ownership of all its assets
in the United States, the government in Taiwan asked help to arrange for the
sale of the Twin Oaks estate to a private American group, the Friends of
Free China Association, co-chaired by Senator Barry Goldwater.
Later, the ROC government in Taiwan bought the Twin Oaks estate back from
the Friends of Free China after the Taiwan Relations Act was passed by the
US Congress in 1979.
The Second Day ...
- National Cathedral
The National Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral of St. Peter
and St. Paul, is 301ft (92m) high and 517ft long. The construction started
in 1907 but was interrupted during the First and Second World Wars, and the
construction halted again in 1977 when the foundation ran out of money.
Finally, in September 1990, 83 years after construction started, the last
stone was put in place.
- Washington Monument & WWII Memorial
The Washington Monument is a 555ft/169m tall obelisk built between 1848 and
1884 in honor of the first President of the United States, George Washington.
It is the tallest free standing masonry structure in the world.
Construction of the monument was halted in 1858 due to the Civil War and did
not resume until 1879. The point at which construction was halted in
1858 is still visible as a different quarry was used after the resumption of
the work. The stones above 152ft have a darker tone of color than the
- National Air & Space Museum
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has the largest collection of
historic air and spacecraft in the world. The collection includes more
than 30,000 aviation-related and more than 9,000 space related artifacts.
Some of the most notable include the Wright 1903 Flyer, the first
engine-powered airplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane used by Charles
Lindbergh on the first transatlantic flight in 1927 and the Apollo 11 Command
Module. There are also my other favorites:
F-104, ..... (the list will go
on for a while).
We also took a flight simulator ride. Since Woanyu did not want to take
it (but it is a 2-people ride), I took it twice: once with Linus and once with
Iris :-) The flight simulator was very interactive that one person
(pilot) can control the flight and the other one can shoot the enemy.
Linus was so aggressive in flying that we were upside down most of the time.
- National Gallery of Art
Opened in 1941 as an art gallery "for the nation", Washington D.C.'s National
Gallery of Art boasts one of the country's largest collections of Western art
- Lincoln Memorial & Washington Monument at Night
The Third Day ...
- Sunrise at Lincoln Memorial
The US Capitol houses the legislative branch of the American government.
The Senate occupies the building's north wing and the House of
representatives is housed in the south wing. Begun in 1793, the
Capitol building has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored;
today, it stands as a monument to the American people and their government
to house the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives
for over two centuries.
One restriction is that tripods are not allowed on the Capitol ground even outdoors. I could not set up my tripod even for my family pictures in
front of the Capitol building.....
After the tour at Capitol, we went through the
tunnel to the Library of Congress (featured in "National
Treasure 2"). Its interior design was based on the Paris
Opera House and was constructed of marble, granite, iron, and
bronze. It has many classical characteristics, such as Ionic
columns and relief sculptures, and features a large number of
statues. The Library of Congress houses 90 million items
on 540 miles (869 km) of shelves, and is one of the
largest and best-equipped libraries in the world,
The Kennedy Center, located on 17 acres overlooking the
Potomac River in Washington, D.C., is America’s living
memorial to President Kennedy as well as the nation’s busiest
arts facility. The Center, which opened on September 8, 1971,
continues its efforts to fulfill President Kennedy's vision by
producing and presenting an unmatched variety of theater and
musicals, dance and ballet, orchestral, chamber, jazz,
popular, world, and folk music, and multi-media performances
for all ages.
We took the guided tour which featured many art works donated
by different countries. Unfortunately, we could only
access the Opera House (which has a magnificent chandelier, a
gift from Austria that measures 50 feet across), but not the
Concert Hall because its Organ Pipes were under maintenance.
- Lincoln Memorial
We walked from the Kennedy Center to the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln
Memorial in the form of a Greek Doric temple and contains a large seated
sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by
Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. On May
30, 1922, the memorial was presented to President Warren G. Harding, who
accepted it on behalf of the American people to honor the Great Emancipator in
- Jefferson Memorial
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding
Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third
President of the United States. The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated on
April 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth. The interior of
the memorial includes a 19-foot (6 m) statue of Jefferson and engravings of
passages from his writings.
The Last Day ...
- Sunrise at Jefferson Memorial
- White House
The White House is located on a site near the Mall chosen in 1790 by president
George Washington and Pierre l'Enfant, the architect who created the master
plan for the new capital. However, The White House has been the official
residence of every President of the United States with the exception of George
- Ford's Theater
This historic building was the site of President Lincoln's assassination in
1865 by John Wilkes Booth, an actor. For more than a century after the
shooting, Ford's Theatre was not permitted to be used as a place of "public
amusement" but rather was used for a variety of other purposes, including for
War Dept. offices. The building eventually sat empty from 1931 until
1965, when a few Congressmen began lobbying for its repair. Funds were
allotted that year and in 1968, the theater once again reopened to the public.
Architecturally, especially on the outside, the building contains almost none
of the features of the original theater, largely due to renovations that have
taken place over the past century. Today it is an active theater with an
- National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of Natural History is generally regarded as one of the finest
museum of its kind in the world. As a matter of fact, the National
Museum of Natural History boasts one of the finest collections of gems and
minerals in the world, including the 45.52 carat Hope Diamond.
I went to the Butterfly Pavilion at about 2:30PM to get the free tickets (it
is free every Tuesday). After about 30 minutes in line, I got
the tickets for the 3:15PM slot. However, when I went to find my family,
Iris was complaining she did not feel too well and had a stomach ache. We
just had a quick walk through the pavilion which is an enclosed tropical oasis
with many live butterflies and exotic plants. We did not spend too much
time to stay in the museum so I did not even have the chance to go back to see
the gems and mineral collections.
Going Home ...
||We decided to leave the Museum of Natural
History early because Iris did not feel well. Iris threw
up on the way walking back to the hotel (but she felt much
We started to head toward Baltimore Airport (BWI) at 5PM.
Even there was some traffic on the highway, we got to the
airport with plenty of time to have a dinner and relax
(plus our flight was delayed for almost an hour). We
finally got home after midnight to conclude our series of East
Coast city tours (Toronto,
New York, and
Washington DC) for this summer.
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