Monday, May 29, 2017

Historic National Academy of Science Building

Historic National Academy of Science Building - The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was established in 1863 via a charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln, “to investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art.” This not-for-profit organization is said to conduct over two hundred studies a year on various subjects. The first study that was undertaken by the organization on April 22, 1863 was the riveting task of measuring the “uniformity of weights, measures, and coins, considered in relation to domestic and international commerce.”

Historic National Academy of Science Building
National Academy of Science
Past and current members have included more than one hundred twenty Nobel Peace Prize winners and famed scientists such as Noam Chomsky (“Father of Modern Linguistics”), Jacques Cousteau (famous oceanographer and explorer), Thomas Edison (noted inventor of 1,093 patented devices including the light bulb), and Albert Einstein. Members of NAS must be voted in and it is considered one of the highest honors of achievement for a scientist to be nominated.

If accepted, scientists are initiated for life. A full listing of past and present members is available on the NAS website and provides a fascinating insight as to the amount of genius that graces the hall of this building on occasion (

The National Academy of Sciences is housed within a neoclassical building that stands three-stories tall and is constructed of a white New York Dover marble. The building was designed by architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue who sadly died just a few days before the building’s unveiling in 1924. If you glance amongst the windows of the building along its front façade you will notice a series of eight-foot low-relief bronze panels.

These were sculpted by Lee Lawrie (who also sculpted the magnificent reredos within St. Thomas Church in New York City) and are said to represent the likes of Aristotle, Galileo, Descartes, and Benjamin Franklin amongst others. The most eye-catching element outside of the National Academy of sciences, however, is a twenty-one foot bronze statue hidden slightly away by a grove of elm and holly trees. The statue dedicated to Albert Einstein was sculpted by Robert Berks and weighs nearly four tons.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Walked Decatur House, Washington DC

Decatur house Washington, DC was constructed in 1818 as the first private residence, and a third building overall (after the White House and St. John’s Episcopal Church), built along Lafayette Square. The original building had three stories (currently four) and is a square-shaped red-brick structure designed in the popular Federal style.

Decatur House, Washington DC
Decatur House, Washington DC
The Decatur house Washington, DC was designed by famed architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe for Naval Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr. And wife, Susan Wheeler. Decatur was a naval hero who was the youngest captain ever commissioned in the United States Navy at the age of 25 (a distinction he still holds today).

Stephen had won numerous battles during his command of the USS Constitution as part of the Barbary Wars and later aboard the USS United States in the War of 1812. When Decatur and his young bride moved to Washington in 1816, Stephen used monies awarded to him for his conquests to build a home along the northwest corner of Lafayette Square. His one request of Latrobe was that the home be constructed of hearty material and be “sturdy as a ship.’

Unfortunately, the Decaturs lived in, their blissful home for just over a year (fifteen months to be exact) before Stephen succumb to the challenges of a gentleman’s duel on March 22, 1820. The challenger was Commodore James Barron, who had felt slighted by a sentence bestowed upon him by Decatur. Barron held command of the American frigate Chesapeake in 1807 when it was attacked by a British warship, the HMS Leopard. After a single warning shot was fired upon the Chesapeake, Barron surrendered his ship without question. The British then boarded the Chesapeake and took four members of the Barron’s crew hostage after charging them as deserters of the Royal Navy. Barron, upon return, was reprimanded for his cowardice and was suspended for five years by a naval board that included Stephen Decatur. Seeking revenge for his now tarnished his image; Barron continued to challenge Decatur to a duel until the man agreed.

The duel amongst Decatur and Barron took place at 9 a.m. In Bladensburg, Maryland in a field adjacent to the town’s tavern. The men agreed to a face-to-face challenge that would be set at only eight paces. Each man got off a single shot. Decatur’s shot deflected off of Barron’s hip into his thigh and sent him sprawling to the ground, injured yet not mortally wounded. Barron’s shot, however, rang true and entered the pelvic area of Decatur. Decatur would be carried back to his home where he would pass away later that evening. At his funeral, it is said that over 10,000 people attended to pay their respects, including President James Monroe.

After Stephen’s death, Susan decided to move to a smaller home in nearby Georgetown and she began to rent out the Decatur House to visiting dignitaries over the course of the next fifteen years. Despite have left a sizeable inheritance, Susan found herself in mounting debt and she was forced to sell the home in 1836. Susan led a sad life after her husband’s death despite having numerous suitors including Aaron Burr. She would pass away in 1860, both childless and penniless.

The Decatur house Washington, DC was acquired in 1836 by a wealthy tavern owner named John Gadsby. Gadsby was also the proprietor of the well-known Gadsby’s Tavern located in Alexandria, VA and the former National Hotel located on Pennsylvania Avenue. Gadsby moved into the home with his wife Providence. During their residency, John constructed a two-story building directly behind his home. This building would serve as quarters for the slaves, which served his home. The structure still exists today and is a rare example of former slave quarters, which still reside within Washington.

The Federal Government seized the property during the Civil War for usage as storage space. After the war, in 1872, the home was acquired by General Edward Fitzgerald Beale. Beale had amassed his fortune during the California Gold Rush and was most famous for his failed efforts to establish a Camel Corps for the United States Army in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico (the animals proved both slow and stubborn). The home remained in the Beale family for 84 years until 1956 when Marie Beale bequeathed the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The home was opened as a museum beginning in the early 1960s.

The museum offers perspective into eight period rooms across two stories. In addition, the museum is currently in the process of being redesigned to serve as an educational center on the history of the nearby White House. During this renovation, the museum is temporarily closed. Continue to check the Decatur House website for updates as to its reopening. (And we will be sure to post hours and admission prices as soon as available.)

While passing by the Decatur house Washington, DC take a moment to glance up along the north side of the building along H Street, NW. Here you will see what appears to be a series of walled up windows. Legends tell of how upon Stephen Decatur’s death, his housekeepers would see his ghostly apparition on occasion looking out one of these windows. Supposedly upon hearing the tales, Susan immediately required that the relevant windows be walled up. As with all legends and tales, though, a fact usually trumps fiction.

It just so happens that the windows that appear as if they were walled up were never really windows. When Benjamin Latrobe was designing the Decatur House and he was installing a series of fireplaces, he was challenged with maintaining to his symmetrical Federal-style design. He could not likely install windows behind the fireplaces and thus the best he could do was to maintain the impression by carving out their ideal locales.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I Walked Pomander Walk NYC

Pomander Walk NYC is a tiny private cooperative apartment complex that is unfortunately gated off, however, we are afforded a well worthwhile vantage from the street. This series of town houses is often described as a tiny Tudor village that is reminiscent of old London mews.

Pomander Walk NYC
Pomander Walk NYC
The two-story buildings are a true throwback with their mix of brick, stucco and half-timbering. They were conceptualized by developer Thomas Healy, who hired the firm of King & Campbell to recreate the homes within the early 20th century play, Pomander Walk NYC. In 1921 a series of twenty-seven buildings were built around a romantic courtyard accessible only by the gated entrances on both West 95th and West 94th. Now, Healy had really only meant these structures to be a temporary construction which he would later raze and construct a more economically advantageous hotel. However, Healy passed away in 1927 and fortunately for us, never had a chance to fulfill that desire.

Because of its unique charm the Tudor style block has been a popular destination sought for by many New Yorkers. In 2005 and 2006 a series of two-bedroom units sold for $610,000 and $725,000 each. While these apartments have some obvious time-preserved charm such as exterior dumbwaiters used for garbage, they have been documented as dark and tiny with tenants face challenges such as antiquated plumbing. In addition, to get out of owning a property within Pomander Walk NYC, individuals are also required to forfeit a 15 percent flip tax as part of the sale.
As mentioned before, however, these aspects have not deterred a long list of persons anxiously awaiting for the next moment that one of these properties goes on sale. One famous tenant who used to reside here for a period was none other than Humphrey Bogart.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Walked Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum the second most popular of all Smithsonian Museums, got its start on August 12, 1946 when it approved by President Harry S. Truman. It was initially recognized as the National Air Museum, and it was not until the space race was ramping up in the 1960s that the museum was rechristened to its current name. The museum was originally housed in a number of disparate buildings across the city, including the Arts and Industries Building; and it wasn’t until 1976 that a home solely dedicated to the museum was constructed.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum opened at its current location on July 1, 1976. Prior to the erection of the museum at this site, a number of other buildings and attractions found their home here, including the Washington Armory (which stored weapons for the D.C. Militia), a movie studio, and the U.S. Fish Commission. The existing building was designed by the St. Louis architectural firm of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum. It is a three-story structure of nearly 200,000 square feet that is constructed of pink Tennessee marble interspersed with bits of glass including a massive glass wall on the west side of the building (that also functions as a door for loading/unloading aircraft into the museum). An annex to the museum was constructed in 2003 at Dulles International Airport and named for its benefactor, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy.

Located within the museum is, not surprisingly, a vast collection of some 50,000 objects related to air and spacecraft from a variety of eras. One of the most noted exhibits is the 1903 aircraft that was flown by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, in what is recognized as the first powered flight. While admiring the plane, you may learn such obscure facts such as that it is composed of wood and fabric held together by steel wire. Noted spacecraft include the Apollo 11 space capsule that flew Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the moon on July 20, 1969. It was on this historic flight that Neil Armstrong would become the first man to walk on the moon. And although it is not a real spaceship, people still flock to the wooden model of the Enterprise that was used in filming the television series Star Trek.

In total there are twenty-galleries for visitation across two floors of exhibits (the third level is left for administrative offices). In addition to the multiple aircrafts that may be admired hanging from the ceiling, a museum store and IMAX theater also exist on the first floor. Another popular attraction is the Albert Einstein Planetarium where visitors may view projected stars and planets across the seventy foot dome.

Visitation of the museum is free and it is open every day of the year less Christmas. Hours are typically from 10:00 am 5:30 pm. Free guided tours are also offered twice daily at 10:30 am and 1 pm. All tours depart from the Welcome Center near the front entrance.

  • Website:
  • Address: Intersection of 4th Street, SW and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC
  • Cost: Free

Monday, May 15, 2017

I Walked National Gallery of art Washington, DC

The National Gallery of art Washington, DC is an art museum that features work from as early as the 13th Century up until the present. The Gallery grew so expansive at one point (with currently over 100,000 objects), that the collection had to be spread across two buildings. Since 1978 all work that pre-dates the 20th Century has been located within the West Building, while the East Building contains more modern art. Amongst the best known artists whose work is featured within the National Gallery of Art includes Degas, Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. In addition, the only work by Leonardo DA Vinci physically located within the United States is located here. This work, titled Generva de’ Benci, depicts the famous 15th century aristocrat from Florence, Italy and was painted by DA Vinci around 1474.

National Gallery of art Washington
National Gallery of art Washington
The origins of the National Gallery of art Washington, DC  began in January 1937 when banker and philanthropist Andrew W. Mellon agreed to help finance a new art gallery in Washington D.C. Congress agreed to formally accept Mellon’s gift on his birthday just two months later (March 24) and construction began on the new facility in June. The museum would receive its largest gift of paintings and sculptures from Mellon himself, who would sadly pass away later that same year and never live to see the opening. Amongst the works within the Mellon’s collection was Raphael’s Alba Madonna, for which he was reportedly the first person to pay more than $1 million for such a painting.

The museum was formally dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on March 17, 1941. At its opening the museum consisted of 130 galleries, of which only five actually contained works of art.

The building was constructed in a Neoclassical style of Tennessee marble and in the designs of John Russell Pope (best known for his work on the Jefferson Memorial, and who also would not sadly live to see the building’s opening). At the time it was built the National Gallery consisted of the most marbles ever used within the construction of a single building. In fact, the amount of marble required was deemed so substantial that there was an insufficient amount of single-tone marble and thus multiple tones may be seen throughout the facade. The most noted features of the building are its eight Ionic columns which grace the front entrance along with its central domed rotunda.

For construction of the neighboring East Building in 1978, the original marble quarries used in the West Building were re-opened. The building from street-view appears as a large letter H but is actually shaped as a triangle. It was designed by architect I.M. Pei (best known for his pyramidal additions to the Louvre Museum in Paris) who was forced to create a similar triangular design based upon the allotted land for the project. The East Building was officially dedicated on June 1, 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.

Another addition to the museum was added just one year later, although this was a part of the building’s exterior. On May 23, 1999 a 6.1 acre sculpture garden was unveiled after having been planned for more than thirty years. Included within this garden (outside of the obvious statues) are a fountain and reflecting pool near the center. During the winter months, this pool is transformed into an ice skating rink for the public to enjoy. The Sculpture Garden’s hours vary slightly based upon time of the year, but typically align with the hours of the Museum itself, which is open Monday through Saturday 10 am 5 pm and Sunday 11 am 6 pm.

The National Gallery of art Washington, DC is open 363 days of the year (closed only on Christmas Day and New Years Day) and offers various tour options. Information on all available tours is available at the Art Information Desk near the front entrance, or you may also preview tour dates/times online at It is recommended that if you desire a guided tour that you plan in advance as times of tours do vary. Some sample guided tour options include the Introduction to the West Building Collection or a similar offering of the East Building Collection. Each of these tours is free. For self-guided tour options, visitors may listen to the Acoustiguide Audio Tour, which is also free and even includes a children’s version.

Prior to the construction of the National Gallery of art Washington, DC, this was the site of the Sixth Street rail station along the Baltimore & the Potomac (B&P) Railroad. It was at this station that the assassination of President James Garfield would occur on July 2, 1881.

  • Website:
  • Address: Intersection of 4th Street, NW and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
  • Cost: Free

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Walked Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is one of the top 10 tourist attractions in Washington DC - One of the most significant attractions along the Tidal Basin actually drew scorn when it was first proposed on this site as it meant the removal of numerous cherry trees. This monument, further mocked via its nickname of “Jefferson’s muffin,” was dedicated to the third president of the United States who was also an avid architect, philosopher, inventor and intellect (speaking five languages) —Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a domed shape building that is actually based upon a structure of Jefferson’s own design. The architect, John Russell Pope, paid the ultimate tribute to Jefferson by integrating a similar rotunda in his design to the one Jefferson had created at the University of Virginia. The rotunda rests atop a rounded colonnade that features tall Ionic columns gracing its front façade. The building is largely constructed of white marble that was quarried from mines in Vermont along with Georgia granite, Tennessee marble and Indiana limestone.

The pope has designed a number of other buildings of note within Washington, D.C., but less for a weak stomach, may have entered another field of study. Planning to attend John Hopkins University in Baltimore to study medicine, he decided he didn’t have the stomach for it after sitting in on a medical procedure. He shifted his focus to architecture where he would later get a degree from Columbia University in 1894. His other well recognized buildings in D.C. Include the House of the Temple (1915), the National Archives Building (1935) and the West Building of the National Gallery of Art (1941).

Unfortunately, the Pope passed away in 1937, just two years prior to construction beginning on the Jefferson Memorial. Oversight would fall onto the shoulders of Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers to ensure the Pope’s design was faithfully implemented. The cornerstone for the building (an eleven-ton piece of Vermont marble) was laid on November 15, 1939 with a copy of some of Jefferson’s most famous writings including the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The monument was formally dedicated on April 13, 1943, Jefferson’s two-hundredth birthday. Leading the dedication was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

One member, or element, that was missing at the dedication is the famous nineteen foot, five ton bronze statue that currently graces the interior of the monument. The statue by Rudolph Evans had not been fully completed and thus a plaster version (painted as if to look like bronze) had to be installed temporarily. The delay had been largely driven by a material shortage due to World War II.

Rudolph was awarded the commission for the statue of Thomas Jefferson in 1941. His design was selected out of one-hundred one entries. The final statue, which Rudolph designed was cast in New York by the Roman Bronze Company and installed in 1947.

The statue features Jefferson stands stoically with a copy of the Declaration of Independence clutched within his left hand. The long jacket he appears to be wearing was supposedly a gift from his dear friend and fellow patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

Surrounding Jefferson is five quotations from some of his most memorable writings. In 1972 a transcript error was noted by a professor from Northwestern University on a quotation taken from the Declaration of Independence. This quote located along the southwestern wall contains the word “inalienable” in lieu of “unalienable” as drafted on the Declaration of Independence.

Also worthy of note around the memorial is a marble pediment that resides just above the main entryway on the north side. The pediment is titled The Drafting of the Declaration of Independence and was sculpted by Adolph A. Weinman in 1943. Amongst the famous faces you will see include the likes of Mr. Jefferson, along with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.

Info Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Washington DC

The Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Washington DC - Our nation’s capitol. Nowhere else in the United States will you find so many family friendly and “free” attractions. Most of the largest tourist attractions are centrally located in the National Mall area which allows for easy navigation. The most popular time of year to visit is during spring when the cherry blossoms (1912 gifts from Japan) are in full bloom. Once you’re here, though, where do you go to make the most of your time? Well, we here at I Walked have compiled our favorite recommendations for Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Washington D.C.

Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Washington DC
Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Washington DC

1. Washington Monument

It’s no irony that the tallest building in Washington D.C. (By law) presents the greatest views of the city. You can ride the elevator to top of the 555 foot white stone obelisk whereby park rangers will explain the history of this long-in-the-works building. Approved for construction in 1783, it was not formally completed until 1885. From the outside you can even see two different hues of stone which show when construction was temporarily stopped during the Civil War. The color differentiation is due to builders having to obtain the stones from a different quarry post-war.

Address: 1600 Independence Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C.
Cost: Free, but you do need to book a ticket in advance via the website above.

2. U.S. Capitol

This historic building may appear to turn its back on visitors whilst facing east (away from the National Mall to the west), you should definitely not turn your back on it. Within its impressive walls you may view where laws are passed within the Senate and House or enjoy the 4,644 square foot ceiling fresco, the Apotheosis of Washington. This painting depicts our 1st president, becoming a god. A visitation to the cafeteria is guaranteed to offer bean soup, as this menu item is required by law since the early 1900s.

Address: Entrance is at the Eastern front on First Street and East Capitol Street, NE, Washington, D.C.
Cost: Free, but the tour pass is required. Tours are recommended to be booked in advance; however, a limited number of tickets are available daily at the Information Desk in Emancipation Hall on the lower level of the U.S. Capitol.

3. White House

The rooms for visitation are somewhat limited, including the cleverly titled Blue, Green and Red Rooms. No visit to Washington, D.C., however, would be complete without a stop to the home of every president since John Adams.
Web site
Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington D.C.
Cost: Free, however, tours must be scheduled through your appropriate Member of Congress 1-6 months in advance of your planned visit.

4. Lincoln Memorial

The stoic 19 foot white marble statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln sends shivers down your spine. Daniel Chester French’s depiction is incredibly ornate in detail situated within a 36 Doric columned hall (representing the number of states in the union at the time of Lincoln’s presidency). At the base of the monument is the infamous reflection pool providing impressive views of the Washington Monument.
Web site
Address: Intersection of Independence Ave SW & 23rd St SW.
Cost: Free

5. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

The most popular of the 19 Smithsonian museums, the National Air and Space Museum provides a hands-on opportunity for families to learn and experience the history of flight. Here you can see the original Wright Brothers airplane, the Apollo 11 command module or the original model for the Star Trek Enterprise. Time permitting, you can also visit the Albert Einstein Planetarium or one of the many IMAX films offered. Do not leave without letting the kids touch an actual moon rock!
Web site
Address: Independence Ave at 6th Street, SW, Washington D.C.
Cost: Free

6. National Gallery of Art

Segregated into 2 wings, the museum timelines its collection of 100,000+ pieces of art. Within the west wing (designed by John Russell Pope, best known for designing the Jefferson Memorial) are treasures dating from the 13th to 19th centuries. Here you will find the only DA Vinci painting within the United States. Working your way to the east wing (designed by I.M. Poe, who also designed the pyramid outside of the Louvre in Paris), you may enjoy more compositions of modern art.
Web site
Address: 4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Cost: Free

7. National Zoo

Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (who also created that small park in New York known as Central Park), this is another surprisingly free attraction (well, less the parking). Famous residents have included pandas from China (still a popular attraction) and Smokey the Bear. Kids will get a kick out of watching the orangutans traveling across the Orangutan Transport System (O-Line) over their heads within the Think Tank.
Web site
Address: 3001 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington D.C.
Cost: Admission is free, however, parking is $10 for 1 hour, $15 for 2-3 hours, and $20 for greater than 3 hours.

8. Georgetown

Famous for its University, the streets of Georgetown are where you’ll likely want to go for shopping, restaurants and enjoying the old architecture along M Street. The Old Stone House at 3051 M Street is the oldest home in the area dating back to 1765. For shopping/commerce, check out Wisconsin Ave.
Web site
Address: 37th and O Street, NW, Washington, DC. (Note: Address is from Georgetown University—a popular attraction. Otherwise, take a stroll along Wisconsin Ave, NW.)
Cost: Depends on how much you eat/drink.

9. Washington National Cathedral

The 6th largest cathedral in the world took almost a full century to complete (1907-1990). A single visit will confirm it was worth the wait. Visit the cathedral for mass (as every president since Theodore Roosevelt has) or for a tour. The gothic structure contains over 200 stained-glass windows, gargoyles and the face of Darth Vader (as alluded to in Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol). For information on how to find the Star Wars villain, check out
Web site
Address: 3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington D.C.
Cost: Requested donation of $5.

10. (Tie) Thomas Jefferson Memorial

If you are lucky enough to come to Washington D.C. When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, there is no more beautiful locale to experience them than outside of this monument. Sometimes neglected as it has been relegated to the southern point of the National Mall just behind the Tidal Basin. A visit to reflect and enjoy the John Russell Pope structure which celebrates our 3rd president (and author of the Declaration of Independence) is well worth the extra hike.
Web site
Address: Intersection of Ohio Drive SW & E Basin Drive SW, Washington D.C.
Cost: Free

11. (Tie) International Spy Museum

Finally the opportunity for children and adults alike to live out their James Bond-like fantasies. Take part in “Spy in the City” or “Operation Spy” and become an actual agent. For the lazier amongst us who just want to learn about the history of espionage from Moses to the Cold War, the museum offers this opportunity as well. No guarantees that the eye will not be watching your every move.
Web site
Address: 800 F Street Northwest, Washington D.C.
Cost: $18 Adult and $15 Children (Ages 5-11)