Federal Triangle Attractions
Clock Tower Tours
Normally free self guided tours of the Old Post Office Tower are available and begin approximately every five minutes from the elevator lobby on the stage level of the Old Post Office. Visitors are taken by glass elevator to the exhibition area and then follow signs to an observation deck with provides panoramic views of the city and monuments.
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.
Pennsylvania Avenue: Avenue of Presidents
Pennsylvania Avenue was hardly more than a path through the wilderness when it saw its first parade. Wearing ceremonial Masonic aprons marked with the symbols of square and compass, George Washington led a group of Masons up the length of the street to lay the cornerstone of the U.S Capitol on September 18, 1793. Making their way around stumps, bushes, and mud holes, they marched "in the greatest solemn dignity, with music playing, drums beating, colors flying, and spectators rejoicing." The silver trowel that Washington used to lay the Capitol cornerstone would be used by future presidents to lay cornerstones for the Federal Triangle buildings constructed in the 20th Century.
At his second Inaugural on March 4, 1805, Thomas Jefferson was followed by an impromptu group of supporters and soldiers on his way to the Capitol. Cheering spectators lined Pennsylvania Avenue. Although unintentional, the tradition of the inaugural parade had begun.
The first organized parade occurred in 1809 when a cavalry troop escorted James Madison to the Capitol for his Inauguration. In 1825, John Quincy Adams became the first president-elect to be escorted to his Inaugural by the outgoing president. Perhaps the most colorful parade was in honor of the 1905 Inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt. TR's Rough Riders charged down a Pennsylvania Avenue lined with 50,000 American flags while cowboys, coal miners, and 30,000 other participants joined in the march with bands playing There'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.
The largest parade occurred in 1953 for Dwight D. Eisenhower's first Inaugural. It included 73 bands, 59 floats, horses, and elephants and lasted four and a half hours. It caused a limit of 15,000 to be placed on future parade participants which is still observed today.