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22 July 2014
Washington DC is an interesting city. When the original plans were being made in the 1780s and 1790s, they called for a 100-square-mile area to be allocated for the city, and George Washington (who was President at the time) wanted to include the City of Alexandria in Virginia. But the Residence Act, passed in 1791, specified that all the federal buildings had to be on the Maryland side of the river (mostly because someone realized that the law allowed the President to choose the location and some members of Congress didn’t want him taking advantage of that and including his own property to the south of Alexandria). So we ended up with a diamond-shaped District 10 miles on a side, overlapping both Virginia and Maryland, with the actual city in Maryland.
13 June 2014
Whenever I go to a hearing on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, I usually arrive via Union Station. It’s a really beautiful building and one of the few grand train stations left in the country, and I’m always impressed by the architecture there. According to the architectural history, it was designed in the Beaux-Arts Style and meant to mimic the Roman Baths of Caraculla and Diocletian. It was completed in 1907, and then restored from 1986-1988 (and it’s actually being worked on right now, too). But wait! There’s geology involved with all that history.
15 November 2013
Washington D.C. is a wonderful place if you’re a geologist. Not only is it a city with a fascinating landscape history (the National Mall used to have a canal running down the middle, and before that the Tiber River and swampland took up the famous space so many tourists come to see), it’s full of rocks. But they aren’t all natural outcrops – some are what we might call man-made …
30 March 2013
I spent yesterday in downtown Washington DC, hoping to see a few cherry blossoms (it’s a big thing here), but unfortunately it’s been a bit too cold for them lately, and the peak bloom won’t be for another few days. There are a few trees out, just not in the popular areas around the Tidal Basin. What I did find were a couple of benchmarks!