Attractions around J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building

The Evening Star Building

Listed as a National Historic Landmark and located directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Old Post Office, the Evening Star Building's Beaux-Arts façade is decorated with intricate hand-carved marble scrollwork and ornamental friezes. Built in 1898, it is the last visage of Washington's old Newspaper Row which once lined several blocks on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue. The Evening Star was founded in 1852 and underwent numerous name changes during the next 130 years, before finally shutting down its presses in 1981. The Star grew to prominence with coverage of the American Civil War. In 1902, its political cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman produced a drawing satirizing a hunting trip during which President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub. The cartoon of the disgusted president and the terrified cub inspired toymaker Morris Michtom to create a stuffed animal he marketed as "Teddy's bear". It was such a success that Roosevelt used the bear as a mascot in his reelection campaign.

1111 Pennsylvania Avenue

Now demolished, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Old Post Office once sat the site of the Kirkwood House. A nineteenth century hotel, Andrew Johnson lived here while serving as Abraham Lincoln's Vice President. Johnson was at the hotel on the night of April 14, 1865, when Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater a few blocks away. The conspirators also planned to kill Johnson, his would-be assassin having rented a room directly above the Vice President's quarters. Although he quizzed the hotel bartender about Johnson's habits, he was unwilling or unable to go through with the murder and spent the night drinking at the bar instead. Johnson was sworn in as president at Kirkwood House the day after Lincoln's death.

The Benjamin Franklin Post Office

Located on the ground floor of the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building at the corner of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Benjamin Franklin Post Office provides a publically accessible example of the rich interior design of the building. It contains two large murals entitled Family Letter and Letter from Home by artist Alexander Brook. The murals were sponsored by the New Deal in the 1930s and depict the importance of the postal service in keeping a distant family connected. A colorful world map is inlaid into the center of the lobby’s marble floor illustrating the reach of the U.S. postal system. Flanking the map are inlaid bronze discs depicting a compass and a calendar and bronze models with images of a mail truck, steam ship, railroad car, and airplane; exemplifying modes of mail delivery in the early twentieth century. The Ben Franklin Post Office is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday thru Friday and from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Saturday. (Closed on federal holidays.)

The National Archives Building

Located across 9th Street from the Justice Department, the National Archives houses the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Designed by iconic architect John Russell Pope, it was meant to resemble a gigantic vault, in which America's most treasured documents could be stored and showcased. Pope fought for the location of the building, which symbolically sits halfway between the U. S. Capitol and the White House and is in line with the U.S. Patent Office, an important early symbol of American ingenuity and independence (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum). The tallest of the 1930s neoclassical buildings in the Federal Triangle, it is decorated with hard carved pediments, allegorical sculptures, and massive Corinthian columns. Exhibits at the Archives range from letters written by George Washington to televised reports of the first moon landing. The National Archives is open daily and free of charge (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas).

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

The FDR Memorial is located on the north side of the National Archives Building, across 9th Street from the Justice Department. An avid collector, Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the construction of the Archives building while President and appointed the first Archivist of the United States. He personally intervened to protect the integrity of the architect's design, sending a memo regarding the height of the roof. His commitment to preserving the historical record led him to press the Archives to include audio recordings and films as well as written documents. In 1941, three years before his death, FDR invited his friend Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter to the White House and told him "If any memorial is erected to me, I know exactly what I should like it to be. I should like it to consist of a block… placed in the center of that green plot in front of the Archives building. I don't care what it is made of, whether of limestone or granite or whatnot, but I want it plain without ornamentation, with the simple carving 'In Memory of". A simple marble marker now stands on the north side of the Archives, near the corner of 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, just as FDR wished.

Center Market

In 1801, soon after the government moved to Washington, the city's first market sprung up near 9th Street and Constitution Avenue. Bounded on the south by Tiber Creek (now running beneath the pavement of Constitution Avenue), the site provided convenient access for farmers, fishermen, and peddlers to transport their goods. Merchants soon constructed wooden stalls to house their wares. Called Marsh Market because of its low lying location, it is said to have attracted Thomas Jefferson, who shopped here for his famous White House dinner parties. Other patrons included Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, as well as Chief Justice John Marshall and orator Daniel Webster.

The area was subject to frequent flooding and swarmed with malarial mosquitoes in warm weather. In 1872, the level of Pennsylvania Avenue was raised to prevent flooding and the canal filled in to become a street. The old market sheds were torn down and a two-story red brick building erected, which was named Center Market. By 1890, it housed 1,000 vendors while local farmers sold their produce from wagons parked outside. As the city's largest retail market for meat, fruit, and vegetables, it continued to draw lawmakers, First Ladies, and presidents. President Theodore Roosevelt came with his wife on weekly trips and, according to the market superintendent, made "sly remarks about her buying ability." Center Market continued to operate until 1931 when it was demolished for construction of the National Archives.

Last Reviewed 2016-09-15