Author Archive for Michael E. Grass

Today in D.C. History: City’s 1st Municipal Elections Held

On June 7, 1802, the District's first municipal elections were held. Although the District's governance structure changed a handful of times in the 19th century, at the time, the president selected the city's mayor, while local residents elected a city council. President Thomas Jefferson had chosen local merchant and landowner Robert Brent to be the [...]

Today in D.C. History: Nickles Hand-Delivers Baseball Tickets to D.C. Council

On May 16, 2008, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles personally delivered controversial baseball tickets to then-D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, ending one of the more mind-boggling standoffs between councilmembers and the administration of then-Mayor Adrian Fenty. At least for that year.
At the center of the dispute were 19 tickets in Suite 61 at the taxpayer-funded [...]

Today in D.C. History: Brutalist Church Given Execution Orders

On May 12, 2009, D.C.'s planning director, Harriet Tregoning, paved the way for the Third Church of Christ, Scientist to tear down its Brutalist house of worship at 16th and I streets NW, a major defeat for "historic preservation zealots," as The Washington Post's Marc Fisher labled them. Those zealots had fought tooth and nail [...]

Today in D.C. History: Mount Pleasant Riots Start 20 Years Ago

On May 5, 1991, rioting broke out in Mount Pleasant following the shooting of a Salvadoran man by a rookie Metropolitan Police Department officer. At the time, there were disputes about whether the man, reportedly intoxicated, had threatened the officer with a knife. What resulted was a multi-day standoff with police, looted stores, and torched [...]

After Potomac Floods, Life Sprouts Anew in Its Gorge

Monday's not-so-surprising flooding on the Georgetown waterfront, among other areas of the Potomac River, is a good reminder that although we Washingtonians live in an incredibly planned and built environment, Mother Nature can still pack a punch. Seasonal flooding has been going on for eons, which has helped carve one of the region's most spectacular [...]

Today in D.C. History: A Foiled Lincoln Assassination Plot and ‘Tractor Man’ Snarls Traffic

On March 17, 1865, two Confederate sympathizers, John Wilkes Booth and John Surratt, were positioned near the intersection of what is today 7th Street NW and Georgia and Florida avenues, hoping to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, who had been expected to visit Campbell General Hospital, one of the city's three dozen Civil War military hospitals. [...]

Secret Recordings at Café Milano? Why Not Try the Ritz in Pentagon City?

One of the week's big stories in Washington was the quick fallout from the newest gotcha video from James O'Keefe that forced the resignation of two NPR executives. The fundraising scandal involving a fake Muslim organization happened at Georgetown's Café Milano, which has long been a bastion of D.C.'s boldface names, for better or worse. [...]

Today in D.C. History: D.C.’s Oldest Business Closes Up Shop

On March 8, 2001, the District's oldest business, Galt & Bro. Jewelers, closed after nearly two centuries of continuous operation, serving presidents and local residents alike. While the business moved over the years, it had always been located near the White House; its last address on 15th Street NW was across the street from the [...]

Today in D.C. History: Small’s Big Washingtoniana Collection Goes to GWU

Feb. 28, 2011, only about 13 hours old, is already becoming a momentous day in D.C. history. Not because of any particular moment that happened this morning, but because of a major announcement affecting the preservation of D.C. history. As The Washington Post reports, real estate developer Albert Small has given his collection of Washingtoniana [...]

Late Night Shots Members Stupidly Chime In on Lara Logan’s Sexual Assault

Late Night Shots, the members-only social club for upwardly-mobile hard-partying Georgetown-centric prepsters that Washington City Paper infamously profiled in 2007, seems to have tamped down its ridiculousness in recent years. But it's still around, meaning participants this week got a chance to say astonishingly stupid things about the brutal sexual assault of CBS News' Lara [...]

The Needle: Stranded Without a Train Edition

Last Call, Last Train? When Metrorail's hours were expanded to better accommodate weekend warriors after midnight—first to 1 a.m. in 1999 and later to 3 a.m.—it was heralded as sign that the nation's capital was loosening its tie a bit and supporting its nightlife. Sure, it reduced the amount of time crews could perform track [...]

The Needle: It’s Time to Drink Edition

Please Yield. Or Else: Sure, traffic-enforcement cameras are annoying for drivers. But there's good news with the street cameras for pedestrians! Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier says that a new enforcement program will allow for smaller, "easier-to-deploy" cameras that will also look for violations where cars fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Watch [...]

Today in D.C. History: Catching Up on January

Today, we’re kicking off a new semi-regular City Desk feature, Today in D.C. History, where we’ll examine the big events and obscure happenings that have shaped the District of Columbia we know today. While not every day in local D.C. history is notable, we hope to cover a lot of ground. In February, Washington City [...]

The Needle: No Pants to Lighten L’Enfant Plaza’s Mood Edition

Keep Calm and Carry On: Although details are still sketchy, it's safe to say that igniting packages at local postal facilities is not good. Stay vigilant, D.C.! -2
New Way to Deter Crime at L'Enfant Plaza? This weekend is the quirky no-pants Metrorail ride! On the agenda is the L'Enfant Plaza station, which has been in [...]

The Needle: Almost the End of the Year Edition

The Little Things in Life: Awww, how cute: Monica Hesse and Dan Zak made the day of that guy in Mount Pleasant who sells homemade popsicles! That warms our ice-cold heart, just a little bit. +2
It's Time for an Information Age Colonic: Uggh. This Twitter spat analysis is almost as ridiculous as The New York [...]