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Discover Historical Washington, DC by Bus or Foot

By mary gallagher

Over the years that I’ve lived in the Washington DC area it has always been an important quest to continue to get to know the city, its people and history. What better way then walking and bus tours? So since 1988, I’ve walked and bussed my little feet and heart out and not made a dent in what is offered.

If you like to discover the unique character of the place you live or visit, you’re a “cultural vulture” in my book. In Washington, the Cultural Tourism DC organization involves visitors and residents in the rich heritage and culture of the entire city of Washington. The Coalition counts as members nearly every museum and cultural organization found in every ward in the city as well as neighborhood groups, community development corporations, faith-based organizations, Metro, the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, professional tour guides, and the city’s official marketing entities. Now these auspicious organizations won’t tell us where to find the funky cheap earrings I like but it’s a start!

All pulling together they will help you get to know our city through weekly walking and bus tours with an engaging and fascinating look at the Capital and the added benefit of a bit of exercise. In selecting a tour that you will be most pleased with try to discover some of the experience of the tour guide. Are they an architectural student – like Big Apple in NYC? Have they lived in the area for more than 25 years? Is history their first love? Did they ever write a book about the tour? Skip the ones who have just been hired for the summer or recently moved into the area. The only exception to this rule is the Tourmobile. Not ever designed to be in-depth but instead an overview and they do fine.

One of the newest tours I took was the Civil War Washington: Soldiers and Citizens, the Capital’s Only Civil War Bus Tour, offered on five Saturdays in July and August with the rare opportunity to visit the under restoration Lincoln Cottage. This tour is sold out for ’03 and they are already taking reservations for 2004.

At the height of the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of soldiers, government workers, and newspaper correspondents flooded the nation’s capital – each playing a role in the unfolding drama of the time. We started out on a clear blue sky and soon to be warm July day at the Ronald Reagan Building. Our compact bus followed the historic roads that took soldiers to and from Fort Stevens, where President Lincoln stood on the ramparts as Union forces repelled the advancing enemy. Built to defend the northern approaches to the city, Fort Stevens was the only Civil War fort in Washington to see significant military action. Today it’s also just sort of plopped in a regular neighborhood without much fanfare.

Here we met a “visitor from the past” – Mrs. “Betty” Thomas, an African American property owner, whose land became the site for Fort Stevens and several soldiers were on guard. For extra drama, we had a surprise encounter with a “Civil War hero” as the tour headed to the Lincoln Cottage.

Lincoln Cottage, the president’s seasonal retreat at the Soldiers’ Home National Monument, has been rarely accessible to visitors. The National Trust for Historic Preservation currently stewards the Cottage’s extensive restoration and we had an extensive “behind-the-scenes” tour with an expert from the National Trust. She shared some of the surprises the restoration process has revealed and shed light on Lincoln’s sojourn at the site. “Think of it as Lincoln’s Camp David,” says Sophia Lynn, the National Trust’s project manager for the Monument. The President made the three-mile commute from the White House to the Cottage daily, June to November, from 1862 to 1864. The president and his family enjoyed this reprieve from wartime upheaval, and Lincoln is thought to have drafted the Emancipation Proclamation at the property.

I would have enjoyed a complete tour and history of the Soldiers Home and grounds which has on occasion barely escaped urban development. Several of the buildings are quite classic and the site is stunning.

“Lincoln Cottage is the most important un-restored presidential site in the country,” says Richard Moe, President of National Trust for Historic Preservation. Only a few years ago the Lincoln Cottage topped the National Trust’s annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Today, the National Trust has raised over $5 million in federal funds and private contributions and pledges to preserve the site and create exhibits and educational programming there. Another $5 million remains to be raised to meet all expected capital costs.

Next we traveled to the all too frequently unseen, due to its currently obscure location, but absolutely wonderful African American Civil War Memorial on U Street. This is the only memorial for the war’s United States Colored Troops. The surrounding Wall of Honor presents the names of 209,145 United States Colored Troops (USCT) who served in the Civil War on 166 burnished stainless steel plaques and arranged by regiment. The names include the 7,000 white officers who served with USCT. Completed in 1999, the Wall of Honor directory locates individual names within the regimental groupings. The nearby museum features an ongoing program for locating relatives of USCT.

As the bus heads back toward Downtown Washington, we heard about Matthew Brady’s attempts to photograph the battlefield, Clara Barton’s tireless efforts on behalf of missing persons, and John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Lincoln, among others. A few years back the National Portrait Gallery did a dramatization on Matthew Brady’s life and career as a photographer. My knowing that personal history, the sacrifice and devotion to recording the times and people of the war by this man who eventually went blind from the chemicals of photography, made this presentation even more significant. Those interested can take other walking tours to follow a particular hero or heroine like Clara Barton and their lives in the Washington area.

Not just a bus tour, Civil War Washington offers a welcome opportunity to stray from the beaten path and investigate some of the capital’s most intriguing historic neighborhoods. Unfortunately many of the wonderful neighborhoods were never spoken about or stopped in as we just drove through. The costumed narrator did an excellent job but the speech didn’t always fit with the scenery. The bus was not a huge tour bus and quite comfortable with a manageable sized group of riders. It is quite a distance from the starting point to Ft. Stevens and I would have preferred at least one stop along the way. I would not recommend this trip for children unless they were involved heavily in reenactments. In fact I would say if you’re not big into the civil war skip this one. Although it was described to explore “nooks and crannies” I felt many tours visit the Civil War monument and other than the Lincoln House nothing was new or revealing for myself and my friend another longtime Washington resident.

The stops are quite long with detailed lectures and a lot of standing. Again this is a tour for the Civil War enthusiast perhaps on one of their first visits to Washington. Organizers kindly provided bottled water on board but for $29 I would have expected rolls and coffee at the start. We also did not leave on time – waiting for late comers – a situation that never fails to anger me after dragging myself out of bed to get there a few minutes early. If you come out of the metro at Federal Triangle go up the escalator and keep going straight ahead. There are no – well maybe one – sign which is of absolutely no use. Just keep walking straight across the courtyard into the unmarked double glass doors. There the security guards will assist you.

You may also want to try the Cultural Tourism DC’s Civil War to Civil Rights: Downtown Heritage Trail, a free self-guided walking tour consisting of large, illustrated signs highlighting little known historic sites in Downtown Washington. A $5 guidebook is available at Downtown bookstores or online at

Tickets for Civil War Washington: Soldiers and Citizens are $29 and may be purchased online at or at the Visitor’s Center inside the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (Metro: Federal Triangle). Reservations are recommended, but not required at 202-661-7576. For more information check or call 202-828-WALK.


This is one of the Cultural Tourism’s newer walking tours that I took an early abbreviated version of a few months ago. It was my third tour of the U street area since moving here in 1988 as well as exploring it frequently on my own and with friends. I like taking streets like Wisconsin, Connecticut and 14th; walking down from the edge of the district to as close to the Potomac as possible. Soon you’ll never be lost again either!

The tour promotes the days when U Street was Washington’s “Black Broadway.” This is where Duke Ellington grew up and was inspired – where musical greats such as Cab Calloway and Dizzy Gillespie played local clubs into the wee hours of the morning – where movie palaces mingled with pool halls, restaurants and barber shops. Here also, in the shadow of Howard University, African Americans created a strong community that produced leaders for the city and the nation.

Unfortunately this is also a portion of the city that was burned in the riots of the 60’s and faced another 30 plus years of neglect and decay. Blocks of housing held by Howard University were allowed to sit empty and foster blight and crime. Now in its renewal stage you’ll find a mixture of very upscale shops and expensive restaurants side by side with longtime ethnic eateries. A few “used” furniture stores still remain, well at least until the landlords can take advantage of the rapidly rising real estate prices.

The lavish Lincoln Theater has been restored and nearby is the Civil Rights War Memorial. Today many interesting modern entertainment venues including jazz clubs, small theater groups and boutiques like Meeps, the vintage clothing store, help maintain a historic and modern mix. Probably some of the most euro style furnishings in the metro area are available along 14th Street. But the neighborhood still retains, for the time being, some of its most colorful local residents and that makes it ok!

I recommend that you take this tour, especially if you’re a resident of the metro area, to acquaint yourself with this vibrant changing neighborhood and entertainment center. You’ll gain a familiarity that will allow you to explore further on your own including the wonderful Meridian Park just a short distance away.
Meet at Thurgood Marshall Center
1816 12th Street, N.W.
Metro: U-Street/Cardozo (Green Line)
Cost: $12 per person
When: First and third Saturday of each month at 10am April 1 through November 30, 2003
Contact information: 202-232-2915

Other Walking Tours


Washington’s stately museums and monuments along the National Mall inspire and impress. But there is a private side to D.C. architecture that is equally worthy of attention: a collection of distinguished apartment houses that has defined capital living for more than a century. The best of these once offered residents all the luxuries of a first-class hotel: from barbershops and ballrooms, to rooftop terraces and indoor swimming pools. Here’s a walk past the hushed elegance of Washington that few visitors ever see. Travel north along beautiful Connecticut Avenue and listen to the tales these buildings and their occupants have to tell.
Meet at Dupont Circle Station, Q Street exit.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only
When: First Saturday of the month at 2 pm (Begins May 3, not offered August or October).
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


No other part of the city claims a more macabre history than Lafayette Square, the neighborhood named for the park facing the White House. The restless ghosts of presidents, a first lady, assassins and military officers roam the hallways of old homes, a theater, and even the White House itself. At dusk, you’ll walk through the park and adjoining streets past these haunted sites with a guide telling the ghost stories associated with each place.
Meet at McPherson Square Metro, White House exit.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only
When: Every Friday at 7:30pm except April 18 and July 4
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


Stroll charming 19th-century streets where hometown Washington met national politics. Your DC Heritage Tours guide shares captivating Capitol Hill lore while showing you a virtual museum of Victorian architecture. Hear about President Washington and Jefferson’s Capitol Hill connections. “Meet” the noted and notorious, including John Philip Sousa, Emily Edson Briggs, and J. Edgar Hoover. The tour ends at the authentic bazaar of historic Eastern Market where shopping and dining await!
Meet at Eastern Market Metro Station, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE exit. Cost: $12
When: 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month from April through October at 1 pm Contact information: (202) 661-7576
A DC Heritage Tour


Shake a leg and bring your patriotic pooch to sniff out the history of Capitol Hill. You and your favorite four-legged friend are invited to join a one-hour DC Heritage tour through this virtual museum of Victorian architecture. Hear about Presidents Washington’s and Jefferson’s Capitol Hill connections. Learn more about the noted and notorious, including John Philip Sousa, Emily Edson Briggs, and J. Edgar Hoover. The one-hour tour will end across from the authentic bazaar of historic Eastern Market.
Sponsored by Doolittle’s Pet Store
Meet at Eastern Market Metro station, at 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE Cost: $3 per paw, one adult human admitted free per dog.
Additional humans are $12 each.
When: August 9 and 16 at 9:30am
Contact information: (202) 661-7576
A DC Heritage Tour


Begin with an insider’s tour of Tudor Place – a neoclassical mansion financed by George Washington’s legacy to a step-granddaughter. Then join us on a walk featuring the old landowning and merchant elite. These prominent families intermarried, produced a notorious divorce, and nurtured a confederate female spy. We also highlight the story of Dr. Marshall – the unofficial mayor of Georgetown’s early 20th century African-American community. This family- still in Georgetown today – traces its roots to one of the largest escapes ever attempted on the Underground Railroad. Dr. Marshall’s ancestor helped plan it and the wealthy Dodge family helped subvert it.
Co-sponsored by Tudor Place Historic House and Gardens.
Meet at Tudor Place, 1644 31st Street, NW (between Q and R Sts, NW).
Cost: $15.
When: September 6 and October 26 at 10:30am
Contact information: Please call Tudor Place for reservations at 202.965.0400 x. 110. .
Presented by Tour DC Walks


In 1903 the Washington Times described “as beautiful a spot and as free from annoyance of the city as if it were in the heart of the Adirondacks.” The bucolic 1,000 acres referred to was Cleveland Park, born from a 1790s land grant. Through the years this “wilderness” slowly gave way to many of the most outstanding estates in Washington. Named for President Grover Cleveland, who summered here, the neighborhood has retained much of its late-19th- and early-20th-century charm. Queen Anne Victorian homes (think wrap-around porches) abound as well as later architectural landmarks such as the Uptown Theater and the Kennedy Warren Apartment house, two of the city’s finest Art Deco buildings. Wind through the hills and valleys of Cleveland Park and you’ll understand why it was the favored place for escaping the humidity of Washington summers.
Meet Cleveland Park Station
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only.
When: First Tuesday of the Month (Not offered in August) at 6 pm
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


This walk tells the story of Greek-born sculptor and artist, Constantine Seferlis, who devoted nearly 20 years to carving the gargoyles and grotesques that bring the Washington National Cathedral to life. It goes without saying that he took his job with the utmost seriousness, yet you’ll discover that Seferlis’ wit and sense of humor found their way into not a few of his masterpieces. When you’re carving a sculpture to be displayed high above the average gaze, what does it matter if it resembles a security camera? Or a harried lawyer? How about Darth Vadar? Binoculars provided for optimum viewing.
Meet at Cathedral Carver’s Studio near main cathedral entrance.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only.
When: Third Saturday of the month (Not offered in August) at 2 pm
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


Built by the son of August Belmont, the New York financier thought to be Edith Wharton’s prototype for the Jewish bankers in her novels, Perry Belmont’s stunning Gilded Age mansion takes up all of one of Pierre L’Enfant’s wedged-shaped blocks. It is featured along with Standford White’s neo-renaissance mansion on Dupont Circle built for the legendary publisher Cissy Patterson. Both mansions carry more than a whiff of scandal. And we also detail a singular block on S Street that once hosted a roster of African-American luminaries including General Benjamin Davis, Langston Hughes and the family of civil rights lawyer Charles Houston, a key architect in Brown v. Board of Education. These walks are part of Blues & Dreams: Celebrating the African-American Experience in Washington, DC during the fall 2003.
Meet outside Q St exit of Dupont Circle Metro.
Cost: $12. Children under 18 are free if accompanied by a parent.
When: September 20 and October 18 at 2pm
Contact information: Call 301.588.8999 for reservations.
Presented by Tour DC Walks


Washington’s grandest boulevard, this walk features the most impressive turn-of-the-century residences in the city, many designed in the French Beaux-Arts style. (Today, most house embassies and consulates.) In addition to viewing sumptuous architecture, you’ll hear stories about the families who once resided in these stately palaces. Fabulous wealth, extravagant parties, scandals–even “the curse of the Hope Diamond” are mixed with a glimpse of the life led by Washington’s diplomatic community today. The walk concludes at the Phillips Collection, a private mansion turned art museum.
Meet at Dupont Circle Metro (Dupont South exit).
Cost: $10; $5 children under 12
When: Every Thursday at 5pm (April 3 through October 30, 2003).
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour


Thomas Jefferson suggested building the U.S. Capitol in this riverfront neighborhood between Georgetown and the White House. Once a working-class port town Foggy Bottom was the site of breweries, a gas works and a naval observatory. Today, it is known for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the scandal-ridden Watergate. Nestled in between are quaint row houses.
Meet at Foggy Bottom Metro at statue of George Washington, 23rd and I Streets NW.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only.
When: Second Tuesday of each month (except July) at 6pm
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour


See the homes of the famous and infamous, past and present, including Herman Wouk, Bob Woodward, John F. Kennedy, Madeleine Albright, and Ulysses S. Grant.
Meet at steps of Georgetown Library, corner of R Street and Wisconsin Avenue, NW, weather permitting.
Cost: $10
When: July 27 and August 10 at 11 am
Contact information: or (301) 294-9514
An Anecdotal History Tour


Come clad in your pajamas for an exciting hour of stories, games, music and memories at the Lincoln Memorial. Get caught up in the fun as we explore Abe Lincoln as a child and the President he became. Your family will delight in exploring the kids-eye-view of Mr. Lincoln and his place in our shared history. We engage parents and kids in a romp through the life of the man and his memorial. The excitement will last long after the President is “tucked in” for the night!
Meet at Reflecting Pool at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only.
When: Second and fourth Saturdays of the month at 7 pm (June, July August).
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour with Children’s Concierge.


They are more than just places to rest your head at night. Washington’s historic downtown hotels represent both a vital link to the city’s past and dazzling examples of au courant trends in architecture, design and dining. Each property has a tale to tell whether it is the role its lobby played in coining a new term for political negotiating, an open bank vault in the dining room or the pet gold fish available from the front desk. From the boarding houses of the District’s early years to the mid-century palaces that spared no expense, hotels in the nation’s capital have always been intriguing worlds unto themselves. Come along for an afternoon stroll unveiling cool elegance, unique history and all the comforts of a luxury home. Your guide will provide tips on places for signature martinis, mint juleps and high tea.
Meet at Archives-Navy Memorial Station
Cost: $10 per person, children 12 and under, $5.
When: Fourth Saturday of the month at 2 pm (Begins June, not offered in July).
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


We weren’t sure about offering this walk. Did we really want to share our best secrets? Yes, we can’t keep them to ourselves. Here are a few clues: a tree house on the Mall, a ghost in a castle, a brothel, 19th-century redwood trees, a canal, and the severed leg of a Civil War general.
Meet at Smithsonian Metro (Independence Avenue exit).
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12.
When: Every Monday at 6 pm April 7 (except May 26, September 1 and during July)
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


Walk from the White House to Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was shot, and Petersen House, where he died; the conspirators’ rendezvous; and 19th-century landmarks.
Meet at Andrew Jackson equestrian statue.
Metro: Farragut North or West
Cost: $15.
Reservations requested, call 301-294-9514 or email
When: August 3, 10 & 31 at 11 am
Contact information: or 301-294-9514
An Anecdotal History Tour.


Few Washington neighborhoods have witnessed such dramatic change and such a breathtaking renaissance as Logan Circle, the city’s only unaltered Victorian residential district. It evolved from rural obscurity to an enclave of architectural splendor, home to wealthy white and later African-American residents. The richness of its built environment cannot be overstated. If you’re a fan of Second Empire or High Victorian Gothic homes, this walk is for you. If you’re fascinated by the dynamics of urban neighborhoods, consider the residents of Logan Circle: their tenacity and vision preserved the historic district when it teetered on the brink of decline. Today it is one of the most sought-after addresses in Washington. Impressive restoration and renovation continues; hip restaurants and shops multiply. This walk concludes at one of the jewels in the Logan Circle crown: the P Street Whole Foods market, a bustling emporium of good things to eat.
Meet at McPherson Square Station, 14th Street exit.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only.
When: Third Tuesday of the month at 6 pm (Not offered in July).
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


Downtown Washington’s Seventh Street corridor is one of the city’s most dynamic places. New hotels, restaurants and residences continue to sprout up, breathing life into a part of the District that had seen years of decline. That people once again bustle along the streets making eastern downtown their home means the neighborhood has come full circle, for during much of the District’s history the area teemed with shops, row houses, and immigrants. Chinese, German, Italian, and Russian were the dominant languages; civic associations and houses of worship were established to support the newcomers. Although most of these immigrants are long gone, many of the buildings they inhabited, worked and worshiped in remain. This walk concludes at the new City Museum of Washington D.C.
Meet at Archives-Navy Memorial Station.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only.
When: Second and Fourth Sundays at 2 pm (Begins May 25, not offered July).
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


“I know not how it was — but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit,” wrote Edgar Allan Poe, describing the home of Roderick Usher. Imagine the observations Mr. Poe might have penned about the homes encountered on this walk and their various owners. Some, like the fictional house of Usher, have disappeared into the fissures of history, yet their spirits remain. Others still stand as reminders of the often harrowing events that transpired within. President Andrew Jackson, navy hero Stephen Decatur, man of letters Henry Adams and his wife Clover — these are only a few of the famous Washingtonians whose homes have tales to tell. You¹ll end this walk standing inside the house considered the most haunted home in the city: The Octagon. As you move from room to room, no doubt you¹ll agree, to quote Mr. Poe, that “evil things, in robes of sorrow, assailed the monarch¹s high estate.”
Meet at Farragut West Station, 17th Street exit.
Cost: $15 (includes admission to Octagon House).
When: The second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 pm. Reservations are required. Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


So you’re a walking tour guide, bounding the streets of Washington on foot, always in a hurry. Where do you grab a bite to eat? Where to you find something quick that is also delicious? Even harder: where do you stop for a take away treat that’s created and served by a locally based establishment? Don’t give up; join us on this snack-a-thon through downtown D.C. and beyond. (We’ll hop on Metro so come with a fare card worth at least $2.20) This feast is “to go” only; we won’t stop at any sit down restaurants; in fact, we won’t sit down at all. It’s munching, sipping, and walking as you listen to Washington history, culinary and otherwise. Ginger scones, “bubble tea”, Sacher Torte, shrimp crackers, half-smokes, and cupcakes are a few of the items on our snacking smorgasbord that celebrates the “locally grown” in Washington. (Cost of snacks not included in walk fee.)
Meet at Archives-Navy Memorial Station.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only.
When: Second Saturday of the month at 2pm (Begins June, not offered July) Reservations Required.
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


This beautiful and historic 19th century cemetery in Georgetown is host to abolitionists and slave-owners, tenacious female Confederate spies and Union officers, and the elite of Washington and Georgetown. Two presidents – Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis – mourned children once buried here. We start inside the beautiful chapel designed by James Renwick, the architect of the Smithsonian Castle and St. Patrick’s Church in New York. The enchanting Oak Hill Cemetery is a jewel in the rural cemetery movement.
Meet at intersection of R and 30th Sts., NW
Cost: $15
When: September 4 and 18 at 6:30pm
Contact information: Call 301.588.8999 for reservations.
Presented by Tour DC Walks


Stroll with us as we explore the entertainment life of a neighborhood that was the cultural capital of Black America in the early 1900s. The tour focuses on the entertainment life of the community when a literary society nurtured the career of Jean Toomer, commonly credited with launching the Harlem Renaissance. Return to a bygone era when pool halls dotted the street corners and men dressed to play the game. When legendary greats including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald frequented the neighborhood known as “Black Broadway.” Go back to a time when the “Queen of the Washington Underworld” owned a legitimate club frequented by entertainers. Visit one of the neighborhood’s oldest clubs and see the inside of new establishments. Share with us as we celebrate the renaissance of the “New U,” home to Washington’s hippest clubs, jazz lounges theaters, art galleries and ethnic restaurants.
Meet at Sisterspace and Books, 1515 U Street, NW
Metro U Street/Cardozo (green line)
Cost: $12.
When: Second and Fourth Friday of each month (April through late October) at 6:30 pm.
Contact information: For more information call (301) 445-2098.
A SiteSeeing Tour.


A small tobacco port 250 years ago, Georgetown today is one of the most fashionable areas of Washington, and is associated with high-profile political figures, media moguls, and society leaders. However, there is another side of Georgetown: espionage and intrigue.
This approximately two and one half hour walking tour (includes rest stop) will highlight sites associated with spies, counter-spies, and covert action successes and failures, and will include personalities as diverse as Alger Hiss, “Wild Bill” Donovan, James Angleton, Allen Dulles, and Betty Pack, an auburn-haired American beauty who successfully spied for the Allies during World War II.
Come learn real-life stories that sound like fiction, but which really took place in the narrow historic streets, trendy restaurants, and stylish homes of “fashionable Georgetown.”
Meet at the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Square
Cost: $12.
When: September 7, October 19, and November 9 at 1 pm
Contact information: 703-569-1875
Spies of Washington® Tours.


The neighborhoods around the present Russian Embassy on Upper Wisconsin Avenue with a rich history of espionage involving well-known and little known personalities. Who was the beautiful young analyst in the Department of Justice who captured the fancy of the American public and the press? Was her motivation love or was it treachery? What is the background of the “tunnel” under the present Russian Embassy? Where and why was it dug? This walking tour will explore these areas, and will discuss stories of espionage and intriguing personalities involving the embassies, the apartments, and the restaurants of the area, and even the Washington National Cathedral! This tour involves considerable uphill walking
Meet at the Southeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue (by the park) Square
Metro: Farragut North or Farragut West
Cost: $12.
When: September 21, November 2 and 23 at 1 pm
Contact information: 703-569-1875
Spies of Washington® Tours.


See the “heart of Washington” as you have never seen it before. Stroll through Lafayette Square, the “President’s Park,” and learn tales of intrigue and espionage from America’s darkest hours. Who was the Confederate spy who practiced her wiles in the shadow of the White House? Who was the spy who spent long hours sitting in the park, and why? Which was the elaborate structure that housed the early days of “military intelligence”? Continue your walk along Pennsylvania Avenue, the ceremonial link between the Capitol and the White House, as we discuss stories of intelligence and counter-intelligence concerning some of the familiar buildings on “America’s Main Street.” You will conclude this approximately two and one-half hour tour in proximity to the major museums and tourist sites of Washington
Meet at the Andrew Jackson Statue in the center of Lafayette Square
Metro: McPherson Square Metro, White House exit (orange and blue lines)
Cost: $12.
When: September 14, October 26, November 16 at 1 pm
Contact information: 703-569-1875
Spies of Washington® Tours.


Get a close look at Georgetown sites linked to the Underground Railroad. We highlight the story of the escape on a schooner named the “Pearl,” when 77 enslaved Americans, including a good number from Georgetown’s finest families and one from the home of first lady Dolley Madison, attempted an audacious escape on a 54-ton schooner in 1848. We’ll see homes of slave-owners whose so-called “property” escaped and a lovely home of one of the Pearl fugitives who became a leading businessman in 19th century Georgetown. We begin our walk in the cemetery of the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, a congregation founded in 1816 as the first African-American church in the District of Columbia. On Sept 27th, we meet a member of the congregation inside the church. These walks are part of Blues & Dreams: Celebrating the African-American Experience in Washington, DC during the fall 2003.
Meet at corner of 27th & Q Sts, NW
Cost: $12. Children under 18 are free if accompanied by a parent.
When: September 27 and October 11 at 10:30am
Contact information: Call 301.588.8999 for reservations.
Presented by Tour DC Walks


The U.S. Capitol Historical Society takes you on a tour around the Capitol, which includes explanation and anecdotes about the building and Congress. It also takes the group to glimpse the construction progress of the new Visitor Center. Tourists enjoy looking at the historic plantings in the Capitol and the spectacular view from the West Terrace.
Meet at the top of the escalator at the Massachusetts Avenue exit of Union Station Metro.
Cost: $10 person, half price for children 6-10; free for those under 6.
When: Every Monday at 10 am.
Contact information: the U.S. Capitol Historical Society at 202-543-8919, ext 17 or email


The Southwest Waterfront is not only a lovely spot for a walk along the Washington Channel, but also home to the Titanic Memorial, the city’s oldest row of houses, a marina and colorful fish market. Since Pierre L’ Enfant drafted the first city plans for the District of Columbia, Southwest has been home to a diverse community that has included wealthy speculators, free blacks and European immigrants. Vaudeville sensation Al Jolson was born here, as was Motown star Marvin Gaye. And that covers just part of the story. What’s really fascinating about the waterfront is how urban renewal brought wholesale change and how the neighborhood
Meet at Waterfront Station.
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12.
When: Every fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 pm
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour.


Can’t take the official public tour of the White House? Don’t despair! You needn’t miss out. Come along on this hour walk around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. All the facts and history you crave plus imaginative activities for any kids who might be along. For instance, you’ll actually “become” one of our 43 presidents and have to own up to the changes, good or bad, you made to the Executive Mansion. Maybe you’ll be the president responsible for bringing electricity to the White House. Or maybe for adding the West Wing. Wait a minute, did you add a bowling alley? For ages 4 to 104.
Meet at McPherson Square Metro, White House Exit (orange and blue lines)
Cost: $10; $5 for children under 12. Cash only.
When: Tuesday through Saturday at 10:30 am (begins May 27).
Contact information: or (202) 484-1565
A Washington Walks Tour with Children’s Concierge.

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