Hometown Washington DC–More than Monuments? The Real DC


7th Street, NW heading south towards Pennsylvania Ave.

7th Street, NW heading south towards Pennsylvania Ave.

I was thinking about people who consider the Washington DC metro area home and their relationship with DC as an important world city.

Years ago when I was in sales with a major corporation a colleague came to the city on business. I picked him up at the airport and as we passed within sight of one of the monuments he asked which monument it was. I said it was either the Lincoln or Jefferson Memorial. He seemed to be in shock that I didn’t know specifically which one. Hey, I was driving and not looking that closely. Honestly, at that time I hadn’t really thought about it. I was born here and had been here so long that at that point monuments were just monuments and I had other priorities. Most of my relatives who had visited the city had been here lots of times and were no longer interested in touring the city. When my wife and I took our young son to the Washington Monument years ago, he didn’t have the patience to wait in line to get inside so we left. That was the last time I had been close to that or any of the other monuments.

I do currently have a much stronger appreciation for the city. I love it here. I am a volunteer usher at several theatres such as the Shakespeare and Ford’s. I go on tours, attend lectures, and am even a Smithsonian Resident Member. DC is my hometown and I am fascinated by its history especially Howard University and the Black migration from the south. I often see it as more of a small town than a “Big City” like New York and Chicago. I see a whole different world from just the nation’s capital and a major tourist destination. I am very curious about how the town folks from DC see the city and the relationship to the nation’s capital.

Surely, there are many of us who have lived in the area for 20 or more years and have never been or thought about visiting the Smithsonian, the White House, the Capitol, the Kennedy Center, Arlington National Cemetary, or the hometown landmarks. I know someone personally who was born here, lived here all her life (50+ years) and has never been to Ben’s Chili Bowl!!

Does it matter? I am really curious about how the homefolks feel about visiting the “official” Washington, DC. When you have visitors come to the city, where do you take them? What is the real DC to you?

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