Category Archives: American history

Beating the heat in Maine

Last year we made the sensible decision to spend late July/early August in Maine. DC in July and August can be unbearably humid (see my previous post: Living on a Swamp), so the idea of heading north and hanging out by the water was very appealing.

The next decisions involved where on the Maine coast we wanted to stay, and what sort of accommodation we were looking for. Maine’s tourist information website was very helpful in outlining the state’s different areas. Most famous is probably the southern part of the coast with its big sandy beaches, like Kennebunk, and beachside communities. But there are also lakes and mountains inland, and there’s the wild north coast from Penobscot Bay to New Brunswick, which includes Arcadia National Park. And then there’s the MidCoast area that we chose. An easy drive from the airport in Portland (ME, not Oregon – that’s much further away), the MidCoast is characterized by rocky peninsulas and long inlets, lighthouses, and lobster fishing. Wild in a gentle way (at least in the summer) it’s a beautiful place.

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Old lighthouse at Pemaquid Point

We decided we should experience an American resort, so we booked a room in Spruce Point Inn just outside Boothbay Harbour. Many of the resorts we looked at were rather far away from bigger towns – there’s one down by the tip of a peninsula – so the fact that we would have access to the shops and restaurants of Boothbay Harbour helped us make this decision.

As soon as we drew up at the main inn building we knew we’d made the right decision. It was the perfect American inn, of white wood with long verandahs and a lawn that sloped down to the sea. A saltwater pool area – with hottub could be seen down by the inn’s dock, and Adirondack chairs were dotted about the lawn. Our room was in one of the little two-story cottages, with a verandah and a view of the gardens plus a sliver of sea.

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Lovely Adirondack chairs where we had coffee most mornings (and wine/whisky in the evenings).

One of the first things we did was get down to the pool and enjoy the hot tub. It was by now evening and the sun was struggling through the clouds. My main memory of this place is the silvery light of the late evening sun on the sea, seen as I lounged warm and content by this pool.

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This really was the view from the pool.

Not that we did that much lounging. The resort had tennis courts which we made great use of, and we spent quite a bit of time driving around the area, sightseeing.

One of our drives took us to Wiscasset, an old town just north of Boothbay – so on the mainland rather than the peninsula. We did the walking tour of the town, up and down its hills to the old Victorian mansions, the old prison and one of the first ever public schools. Sadly most things were shut in the morning, and the Musical Wonder House, with its collection of music boxes, had closed, it seemed, for good. Luckily Red’s Eats, with its famous ‘more than a lobster’ roll was open and made us forget our disappointments. A true lobster shack, we ate at tables set up outside in the sun with a view of the water and a sea breeze keeping us cool.

That afternoon we headed over to Pemaquid Point, to see a lighthouse and enjoy the rocky shoreline. It turned out that entry to the lighthouse also included entry to the historical site of Colonial Pemaquid – a really old fishing settlement that dated from when the English probably established seasonal fishing settlements there in the 1610s. Nothing really remains, save some old foundations, but it was still interesting, and a lovely spot in the summer. Nearby is the site of what has been various forts since 1677. Its earliest incarnation was made of wood and fell to Indian attack in 1689. Next came Fort William Henry in 1692, built by Massachusetts, which governed the area at that time. This was destroyed in 1696 by combined French and Indian forces. The final fort – Fort Frederick – was more successful but was dismantled when it came to the war of Independence, to avoid it being used by the British. Part of the second fort – William Henry – has been reconstructed so you can go up the tower, which gives great views.

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View from the Fort to Pemaquid beach

It also houses an exhibition about the area between 1677 and 1761, the archaeological finds, and the complex relationships between English, French and Indian traders. Although this is not the Fort at which Paul Revere fought as an artillery officer, there was a mention of him and what they saw as his disreputable behaviour there (see my article on regional versions of American history here).

We learnt more about Maine’s part in American history when we visited Bath and Portland on our way back to the airport our final day. Bath has an excellent Maritime museum, where you can see where they built America’s first ships – and how they got them into the water after building them (harder than you might think). And in Portland we saw Longfellow’s House – the poet who immortalized Paul Revere in his (pretty awful) poem Revere’s Ride.

Mostly though, what I enjoyed about Maine was being on the water, the seafood, and the casual nature of things. One of the best things we did was to take a boat trip around the Boothbay area. When we started the morning mist hadn’t quite lifted – even further out at sea – but we still saw plenty of lighthouses, islands and wildlife. I’m a fan of birdlife, so passing close by herons and nesting ospreys was fantastic. Most excitingly, while we were looking at some seals, an American bald eagle turned up!

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I probably needed a better camera for this…

I’ll write about the seafood in another post, but I can’t end this blog without mentioning at least the lobster shacks. As well as the one we enjoyed in Wiscasset, we also found two around Boothbay that we loved. There’s just something about spending the whole day enjoying the sun and the water and then walking, slightly sand and salt-crusted, to a lobster dock, where you’re welcomed with beer, shellfish and plenty of paper napkins. It’s casual, relaxed, and utterly unselfconscious, and I think eating that way in the sea air can’t help but make the lobster taste even better.

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East Coast Adventures – Boston in February

There were good reasons for why we chose to visit Boston in February. R had a meeting scheduled for the Monday so would have to travel up on his birthday weekend anyway, so I scheduled a research trip at Wellesley, and we booked a flight for the Saturday morning. Then the snow started. While it was pretty obvious both our work events would be cancelled, we felt we had to go anyway, just in case by some miracle they weren’t. And, though it was cold and snowy, and I got stranded there an extra day on my own, we did have some fun.

As I mentioned in one of my introductions to this series, most of our holidays revolve around our main interests of history and food. Boston certainly satisfied both these appetites! When we arrived after an early flight, cold and hungry, we only had to stagger across the road from our hotel to get to the historic Faneuil Hall, which combined Boston’s market-hall with a meeting room above, in which they say America’s first town meeting was held. While originally the people of Boston were suspicious that the market-hall would lead to raised prices and only allowed it to be built because of the promised meeting room, the market is probably now the main draw. As well as housing one of the town’s two bars based on the TV series Cheers, the market is home to stalls selling a wide variety of world cuisines, as well as a number of local delicacies. We stuck to the New England clam chowder because it promised the most warmth. We also tried a Boston cream pie for dessert, but weren’t that struck with them.

Boston makes learning about its revolutionary past very easy. The old part of the town is relatively compact, as is Charlestown across the river, and you can follow the ‘Freedom Trail’ around the historic sites in this area (2.5 miles). There is a bus, but you can also walk it, following a red line on the ground. We decided to walk, as it wasn’t the kind of weather that you want to be standing waiting for a bus in – or sitting still once you’d caught it. We walked it pretty briskly, and the second day we couldn’t look up very much as it was snowing pretty heavily. But actually, walking it in the snow turned out to be maybe more fun than it would be normally – because the red line is on the ground, the snow turned the walk into a bit of a treasure hunt, as we lost the line under snow drifts here and there, and triumphantly found it again where the snow had been cleared for traffic.

Faneuil Hall is one of the sites of the Freedom Trail. Before the British banned assemblies, the hall was used by citizens for meetings protesting the treatment of the colony – Samuel Adams often spoke there. Just behind Faneuil Hall is the Old State House, which, before Independence, housed the royal Governor, the courts, and the Massachusetts Assembly. Just outside was also the site of the Boston Massacre. The guides who work at the Old State House museum do a very good job of explaining this incident. Basically, tensions were running high in Boston after petitions against the importation of foreign goods and the taxes on these. The British governor requested a military presence and regiments of the British army were garrisoned in the city. On the day of the massacre, a large crowd gathered near the Old State House, shouting and throwing things at a small group of British soldiers and taunting them to ‘fire’. At least one of the soldiers was hit. In the confusion, a number of the soldiers fired their weapons into the crowd and at least five citizens were killed. Though the soldiers were all cleared of murder at the trials a year later (John Adams famously defended them), by then Paul Revere and other revolutionaries had turned the event to their advantage. The image that Revere created of the ‘massacre’ for anti-British propaganda was sensationalized in that it shows the British soldiers drawn up in formation against the peaceful citizens of Boston, the senior officer ordering the volley of shots being fired into the crowd.

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“Boston Massacre high-res” by Engrav’d Printed & Sold by Paul Revere Boston. The print was copied by Revere from a design by Henry Pelham for an engraving eventually published under the title “The Fruits of Arbitrary Power, or the Bloody Massacre,” of which only two impressions could be located by Brigham. Revere’s print appeared on or about March 28, 1770.

Next on the trail was the Old South Meeting House. This was an amazing example of a Puritan meeting hall within what, from the outside, appeared to be a traditional church. Instead of a long central aisle leading to an altar, the room was set out so that a short aisle led to a pulpit, with long lines of closed pews facing it. When public assemblies were banned, citizens continued their meetings in this religious space, so that it was in fact from this meeting hall that the Boston tea party started. It is said that it was here that Samuel Adams spoke the words: ‘This meeting can do nothing more to save the country’, which it is believed was a secret signal to his Sons of Liberty to march to the wharf and throw the newly-arrived tea into the harbor. We got most of this history from the National Parks ranger talk at Faneuil Hall which, like all ranger talks, was excellent and made a fantastic starting point for the walking tour. When we were at the Old South Meeting House it had a small exhibition of the historical and political events in which the meeting house had played a part, and a really helpful timeline. One thing I found interesting, was that it was here that Samuel Sewall publicly apologized for his role in the Salem witch trials.

At this point we decided not to follow the trail up to Boston Common and today’s State House, but to leave that for the next day. Instead we followed the trail through the really old North End district of Boston, visiting Paul Revere’s House, the Paul Revere Mall and the burying ground on our way to Charlestown. [This area is also home to Boston’s Little Italy and where we had an incredible birthday celebration meal of oysters and other seafood, sitting on bar stools, at Neptune Oyster – I’ll write about this another time.] While we might have taken more time about it had it been warmer, the walk was still nice. Paul Revere’s House, however, we didn’t find that interesting. It’s obviously pretty impressive in that it dates from 1680, but it’s a fairly ordinary house of that period. There was plenty of information about his silversmith business, and we learnt that he also printed money for the Massachusetts government. It might be that I’ve been biased against Revere (see my previous post about American history), but I wasn’t that inspired.

Bunker Hill, and the museum, however, I found fascinating. I’m not normally a fan of military history, but the use of a large diorama plus soundtrack and supplemented by a blow by blow account of the British assaults on the hill, made it all pretty exciting. They say that this was the first major battle of the Revolutionary War, and it seems to be a story of mismanagement, hesitation, and ill-preparedness on the British side. Although ‘we’ (the British) ‘won’ the battle, over 1000 British soldiers were killed or wounded compared with only 450 casualties on the American side – all a bit embarrassing. The museum was also keen to make it known that Charlestown had had their own tea-party before Boston; even within the same metropolitan area history is fiercely disputed over here.

Bunker Hill Monument in the snow
Bunker Hill Monument in the snow

After two days of museums and historic sites I really felt like I’d learnt something – so we went to the pub. Because of the snow we didn’t feel like exploring a very large area, but luckily, the Cheers pubs are both on the Freedom Trail and we visited them both. The one in Faneuil Hall is fun, but not that authentic. The one over by Boston Common is marketed as an exact replica. Underground and full of tourists, it was a cosy enough place to spend an hour or so drinking Sam Adams beer, until the blizzard warnings prompted us to make our way back to the hotel.

Overall I was so impressed that Boston kept going through their extreme weather that weekend. The snow was piled so high either side of the roads and pavements that it was hard to get around, and yet people were still going to work, and tourists were still walking the trail. All the museums and bars were open – even the open air fish market was still trading. When the snow storm really hit on Sunday evening we could get across the road to a well-stocked restaurant and there were plenty of taxis still on the roads when we headed back to the hotel that night. It was only the next day that things got difficult. My flight was cancelled and I had to spend the entire day watching the swirling snow storms from my hotel room window. And the next day the metro controversially had to close – though I was still able to get to the airport and fly out pretty easily.

Southern Road Trip – Atlan’a

It was a long, hot drive from Nashville to Atlanta. This was actually our shortest drive (4hrs) but we were maybe a little hung over and, because we were starting a bit later than planned (so we could get pancakes for breakfast), we had to take the interstate. It wasn’t much fun, but we did enjoy the signage along the way. For quite a few miles before we reached the Tennessee/Alabama/Georgia border there were big signs advertising ‘Fireworks!’ We figured it must be illegal to buy fireworks in Tennessee, but not in Alabama. Anyway, they were excited about it.

The countryside between Nashville and Atlanta is probably quite impressive to see if you get off the interstate. We were driving through the southern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and every now and then we would see concertina-like hills in the distance. There were also billboards alongside the road advertising waterfalls and gorges, and it looked like there were some pretty spots that you can stay to go hiking and rafting near Chattanooga. We were pretty excited to be going through Chattanooga, and spent most of the trip with the Chattanooga choo-choo song going through our heads. We did see the historic railway as we sped past the town, but then we were on our way again.

Once we arrived in Atlanta we realized that we’d made a rookie mistake in booking a hotel in the downtown area. It was not the best area to stay. But we were only there one night, and we could walk to the Olympic park to see the main Atlanta sights. Remember they had the Olympics? Well the park is very nice. We got a snack and enjoyed not being on the road any more. Then we wandered through the park to the Center for Civil and Human Rights. I want to be clear – this is the attraction we planned to visit while in Atlanta. Sadly though, it closed at 5pm, and so we had to go to the Coca Cola experience instead.

The Coca Cola experience is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. They get you to pay them to go in and watch their commercials (we’re such suckers!). We were greeted by an enthusiastic guide, originally from Belgium, who gushed about the international appeal of coke – no matter what language we speak, we all drink coke, right? Feeling like I was joining a cult, I followed the crowd as we were funneled into a theater to watch a six minute introductory film. By the end I felt pretty sick. It was the usual montage of families and friends experiencing special moments – a couple telling their parents they were going to be grandparents, someone sky-diving, a German kid telling a girl that he liked her – and all in the end celebrating with coca cola. Ugh. After this though we were set free to explore the rest of the exhibits as we wished. There was a small exhibit on the history of coca-cola, and another on the bottling process. Somehow the description of this simple industrial process managed to portray coca-cola as responsible for bringing clean water (and safe beverages) to the world and celebrated their influence in local communities as a major employer. Sick from our overdose of ideology, we decided to get sick on sugar instead, making a bee-line for the tasting room. Now this was fun. Like kids in a sweet shop we dashed from dispenser to dispenser, each bank of them holding coca-cola products from a different part of the world. It was exactly like I’d imagined Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory when I was a child.

Our second cultural experience in Atlanta was courtesy of a friend. In a true display of southern hospitality, she picked us up and treated us to an evening picnic and laser-show at Stone Mountain. A huge chunk of granite that rises abruptly out of the countryside, Stone Mountain is known as the South’s Mount Rushmore because the images of three Confederate figures – Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davies – are carved on its face. It’s become the site of an immensely popular laser show, for which people congregate on the sloping lawn that faces the rock, and over the last few years a smallish theme park has developed around it. We just went to picnic on the lawn and watch the laser show, which was quite an experience.

First, finding space on the lawn was like finding space on a crowded British beach on a sunny bank holiday – everyone from Atlanta seemed to be there and it was a really diverse crowd. Then there was the content of the laser show itself. There were quite a few little animations set to popular country music – a particularly good one with pyrotechnics was an interpretations of ‘the Devil went down to Georgia’ – and lots of animations celebrating the local sports teams, schools and colleges. But the main thing we were looking forward to was the bit where they animate the three Confederate figures and show General Lee breaking his sword following the surrender at Appomattox – all set to ‘Dixie’. Our friend remembered it from when she was young, and she remembered people around her putting their hands to their hearts at that point, but these days I think it would be hard to understand unless you knew the history pretty well already. There’s also an interesting message of redemption at the end of the animation, when the two halves of the States are made whole again – the surrender making this possible. The show ended with lots of patriotic salutes to the flag and the troops – everyone stood for the anthem and then recited the pledge of allegiance – and, of course, lots of fireworks. As we made our way back to find the car quite a number of people commented on the amount of money going up in smoke – in what is I think one of the poorest state in America. It was a great show though, and prompted interesting discussions about the difficulty of celebrating local identity and history when it’s based on something as abhorrent as slavery.

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It was late when we got back, and we had to be on the road early the next day, so that was all we had time for in Atlanta.

This was a shame, as I know there are some seriously interesting things to do here and some great food – Atlanta has a number of pizza places that have been voted the best in America. I believe it’s also a really nice place to live and if I get the chance to get back I really want to check out Midtown, the aquarium and the new walkway that they’re developing from an old railway line. One day really wasn’t enough!

Read on: Southern Road Trip – On the back roads from Atlanta to the Coast

Read about the rest of our Southern Road Trip and our adventures with Southern food:

East Coast Adventures – US History

Our travels on the East Coast of America have focused mainly on two of my interests in life – food and history. There’s also been some room for reading too, but more on that in another post. I’ll be writing about the delights of American seafood, barbecue and pizza as I blog about the places where we enjoyed them, but I thought it might be worth writing a bit about US history generally, before getting on to the histories as told by different states.

Before coming to the States I had some knowledge of bits of their history – mainly gleaned as a child from playing Sid Meiers’s Colonization (similar to Civilization, but set between the discovery of the Americas and the achieving of independence) and more recently from half watching the first couple of episodes of HBO’s mini-series John Adams (I would recommend this for the fantastic theme tune and credit sequence alone). I also of course knew the story of the Civil War as told by Margaret Mitchell in Gone with the Wind. But my understanding of the early history of settlement and interaction with the native Americans was sketchy; I wasn’t quite sure who had won the war of 1812 or what it was about; and while I knew not to forget it, I had no idea what The Alamo was. I had learnt quite a bit from the Smithsonian Museum of American History (I blogged about this education here last year) but nothing beats walking the streets where citizens protested the quartering of British soldiers or standing on the battle-field where the British surrendered.

What I have learnt from our travels, though, is that the narrative I thought I knew is largely the narrative of Massachusetts. The story of Puritans seeking a place to practise their religion in peace; of a populace rising up in righteous rebellion against a tyrant king; of the heroism of a New England silversmith, Paul Revere, riding to warn the rebels of the British attack; and the story of a North that sought to abolish slavery and bring about ever more union between the states… All these stories ring truest in Massachusetts – specifically in Boston.

When you travel in Virginia or Maine, however, you find plenty of people ready to dispute the details of this dominant narrative. Archaeologists in Virginia were keen to remind us that of course Jamestown was the first successful British colony – started in 1607 for commercial rather than religious reasons – predating the Mayflower Pilgrims’ Plymouth colony by over ten years. And the museum of Fort William Henry, near another very early fishing colony at Pemaquid Point in Maine, is scathing about the role played by Paul Revere in the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 (during the War of Independence, the British had seized Castine in Maine and the Massachusetts legislature ordered an expedition to dislodge them). In Maine, the story goes that Revere was incompetent as an artillery commander, disobeyed orders, and fled before receiving orders to retreat (the expedition was a disaster). They prefer to commemorate the poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who immortalised Massachusetts’ hero in the poem, Paul Revere’s Ride – making it clear that there were of course many riders, and Revere’s name was just useful because it rhymed:

Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere

(it’s not a particularly good poem).

Meanwhile, in Boston, they insist that Revere’s name was cleared in the court martial he demanded for himself in 1782. They claim that the accusations only came about because the Massachusetts militia needed a scapegoat.

While I loved Boston, and thought their museums were very persuasive on most things, I’m more inclined to believe Maine’s version of the story of Paul Revere. This is partly because I was influenced by Bernard Cornwell’s historical novel of the Penobscot Expedition The Fort, which was excellent holiday reading in Maine.

I’m by no means an expert yet, but I’m certainly enjoying continuing my education in American history through reading, watching TV series, and, of course, more traveling.

Recommendations for anyone looking to gain a more nuanced understanding of American history – or just a different perspective (based only on where I’ve been and what I’ve read so far):

On the early colonies:

  • Jamestown archaeological site, Virginia
  • Mark A. Noll and Luke E. Harlow, Religion and American Politics: from the colonial period to the present

On the War of Independence:

  • Fort William Henry, Maine
  • TURN: Washington’s Spies, AMC series
  • Bernard Cornwell, The Fort

On the Civil War and its aftermath:

  • Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial (in Arlington Cemetery)
  • E. L. Doctorow, The March
  • Ford’s Theatre (especially the Ranger talk)
  • D. W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation (warning: explicitly racist)

So How Safe is DC Really?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about househunting in DC and our preconceptions of the city as somewhat dangerous. Recently a number of American cities have experienced riots sparked by police actions and racial tensions, but DC has remained quiet – so far. 

The other night R was out till very late. In London I wouldn’t have worried. In London I knew the areas he was likely to be out in, probably knew who he was out with, and generally I feel that London is pretty safe these days, with so many people on the streets that it discourages violent crime.

In DC I started to worry. Especially when 1am came round. I didn’t know what part of DC he was in, and I didn’t know who he was out with. I knew he’d be coming back through Adams Morgan, which is our area and where I usually feel pretty safe, but he’d be drunk – maybe obviously – and therefore potentially viewed as easy prey. Yes, there are plenty of people on the streets in Adams Morgan, but there are also plenty of alleyways and the number of helplessly drunk rich college kids on the streets can attract predators. In the end, it turned out he’d been at a friend’s house in Northeast, had come back via Adams Morgan, stopped in one of the fast food places and had eaten pizza walking up the dark alleyway near our apartment building. Perhaps not the best idea – especially as he was visibly drunk – but as he reminded me, he can look pretty scary when he wants to.

I’m more cautious in DC than I am in London. The number of times back home I got staggeringly drunk and ended at my London Bridge flat hardly knowing how I’d got there is testament to how safe I felt in that city (or maybe I was just younger and stupider back then). If I’m out alone here I make sure not to get drunk and I plan a route home that keeps to streets I know will be busy and well lit. DC is not as crowded as London. One evening, during the snow, I set out to find a pub north of Columbia Heights. It was dark and my phone died, so I ended up overshooting by quite a way. As the street around me became darker, emptier and more residential I started noticing any crunch of footsteps behind me and wishing it wasn’t so slippery so that I could walk faster and get out of there. Eventually I gave up, crossed the road and, attempting to look like I knew what I was doing (in case anyone was watching me) started back southwards. Columbia Heights is deceptive. The bit around the metro, for about 2 blocks, is pretty new and shiny, very well lit and bustling with a range of people. A couple of blocks up and suddenly it’s quiet, dimly lit and you’re into the realm of dark dive bars and seedy chicken restaurants before even this thins out and all you’re left with is pay day loan type shops, liquor stores and boarding houses.

I was fine – on my way back I found the bar – but the friend I was meeting was rather dismayed at how far I’d wandered and helpfully told me about a rape that had happened up there not that long ago. Recently there was another report of an attempted rape somewhere on 16th street NW.

And NW – our area – is actually the safest. Of course things are changing when it comes to the other three quarters of central DC. Capital Hill, a no go area in the very recent past, is now a neighborhood of young families and their young professional lodgers; markets; and the beginnings of cafe culture. NE is becoming increasingly gentrified, numbered street by numbered street. And SE around by Nationals Baseball Park is really nice now – luxury flats by the river. Of course there are still no-go areas. When R’s colleagues were helping us work out where to live when we first moved here,  they said pretty much what I just said about SE being ok now, but R’s enquiry of ‘you mean across the river?’ prompted almost comically horrified reactions of ‘Oh no, not Anacostia!’

If you watch crime dramas set in DC (‘Bones’ for example) they usually find the bodies amongst the warehouses of Anacostia or in the river nearby. But apart from this area, it’s getting harder for such dramas to realistically portray the city as at all gritty. The run-down barbecue place that Frank Underwood frequented in early seasons of DC was actually shot in Baltimore – you wouldn’t find that sort of place anywhere near Congress these days.

DC’s reputation for danger probably mainly dates from the time of the riots. Following Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, riots broke out in DC and lasted for six days. Various bits of downtown DC (like 14th street) were reduced to rubble. Although some of these riot corridors ended just minutes from the White House much of the damage was not repaired until about five or ten years ago. People didn’t live in DC, and the town was developed with that in mind; the metro system was not designed to get around DC but rather to get commuters quickly in and then out again to the leafy suburbs of Virginia, Maryland and NW DC. Conditions in the city for those who did end up living there were not good, and this, combined with racial tension following new waves of Hispanic immigration, led to more rioting, in the areas of Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, in the early 1990s.

We live in a completely different city now. 14th street is where the hipsters go to eat in shiny new restaurants. People don’t move to the suburbs until they’re choosing high schools for their kids. The metro now attempts to transport the young, fun-seeking population between the hot new bars and restaurant areas, the ball-park and their city-center apartments. While crime exists and there are still places you don’t want to walk at night, the problems of DC are now no different from those faced by most towns and cities.

So, in conclusion: ‘Crime. Boy, I don’t know.’