Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baltimore blitz

We made it to Baltimore for the weekend of Aug. 20-22nd. We had been wanting to see a little more of the city and also take in Ft. McHenry.

We stayed in a older historic hotel called the Mount Vernon Hotel established in 1907.

One of the main attractions in Baltimore is the Inner Harbor. They have done a wonderful job of sprucing it up. There are restaurants, shops, historic ships, an Aquarium...

And at night it is all lit up and there is an area provided for street performers. We saw a gentleman on a unicycle juggling flaming torches!

On Sat. we started off doing a self walking tour of the Mount Vernon district. It was THE place to live in Baltimore throughout the later half of the 1800's & early 1900's (if you were wealthy, had status, & a crew of servants that is!). It is the home of some historic places that we wanted to see.

First off was the Basilica of the Assumption. It was completed in 1821 & is the first metropolitan cathedral constructed in America after the adoption of the Constitution. The architect was the same architect for the U.S. Capitol building in D.C., Benjamin H. Latrobe.

This is a picture of the Undercroft, under the main sanctuary, where the chapel & crypt are.

The nation's first monument to George Washington was constructed starting in 1815 and resides in the Mount Vernon district. There are 228 steps to the top, unfortunately, it was closed for renovation when we were there.

This Gothic-style Methodist Church was completed in 1872 and sits on the sight of the mansion where Francis Scott Key died while staying with his daughter & son-in-law. A plaque on the side of the church commemorates that site.

This Belvedere is one of the most famous buildings in Baltimore. It was originally a hotel & evening spot for the elite of the entertainment world & international social circles, but is now condominiums. The inside is still authentic to the times.

We made a stop in the Maryland Historical Society mainly to see the original manuscript of Francis Scott Key's "Star Spangled Banner". Did any of you remember that there are 4 stanza's to the song?

The Lexington Market was established in 1782 is the largest continuing running market in the U.S. Filled with food sellers, meat markets, bakeries, & vegetable stands, it was quite an experience!!

After resting up in the hotel room for awhile, we ventured back down to the Inner Harbor & boarded a water taxi to take us to one of the other unique neighborhoods in Baltimore. This one is called Fells Point an historic port community dating back to the 1700's. Now has cute shops & restaurants & cobblestone streets.

Next to Fells Point is another historic community called "Little Italy". We had a delicious dinner at a charming restaurant called "Gia Ristorante".

Our last day in Baltimore we went to Fort McHenry. This 18th century fort defended Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812 & is the birthplace of our National Anthem!

This is a model of what the fort looked like during the War of 1812.

They have done a wonderful job of preserving the fort and there are soldiers in period costumes acting out how there days would have been spent while serving at the fort.

One of the Rangers asked for volunteers to hold onto a replica flag that was flying over Fort McHenry when Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star Spangled Banner". The original flag is at the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington D.C.. It was quite incredible to see just how big that flag was!!

This is a view looking out from the fort to where the British ships would have been sailing while bombing the fort.

One of the many interesting facts we learned while there was that whenever a new territory was made into a state and a star added to the nation's flag, that new flag, before it flies anywhere else, flies over Fort McHenry a minute after midnight on July 4th!! Pretty impressive!
This is the position of the flag that Francis Scott Key would have seen as he penned the words; "Oh say can you see..."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Geogetown & the C & O Canal

One of the activities we had been wanting to do was to take one of the reproduced canal boat tours on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (C & O Canal). On Sat., Aug. 7th we drove down to Georgetown and got there just in time to make the 1:30 PM tour.

Ground was broken in 1828 for the canal with the purpose to ship goods from Washington DC to Pittsburg since the Potomac river was not navigable because of falls & rapids. Although by the time the canal was finished the railroad had been put in which made the canal obsolete by 1924. In 1971 it was established as a National Historical Park.

Park rangers took us out on the boat & gave us a narrative of what life was like back then & what the canal was used for.

One of the most interesting things about these boats is that they were pulled by mules walking a towpath alongside the canal.

This is M St., one of the main thouroughfares through Georgetown, lined with shops & restaurants. It is ALWAYS busy with cars & people!!

We had never really spent alot of time in Georgetown looking at the historical buildings, so we grabbed a map and took a self-guided walking tour.

Our 1st stop was at Thornton's St. John's church, which, with only a 6 year gap from 1831 to 1837, has been holding Anglican services since 1804. Regular attendees were Dolly Madison & Francis Scott Key!

Along with historically significant homes there was also alot of attention to places JFK & Jackie Kennedy had lived, which were quite a few!! (there were 10 in all). Below is the where they lived during the 1960 Presidential campaign.

These were a grouping of five Federal style townhomes built by future Georgetown mayor John Cox in 1817 now called Cox's Row.

Holy Trinity Church was established in 1794 & is the oldest church to have remained in continuous operation in the nation's capital! It was founded by Archbishop John Carroll the 1st Catholic bishop in America, & a cousin to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. JFK & family frequently worshipped here. I wish we could have gone in, it looked beautiful!

Georgetown University. Now this is an old campus and gorgeous!! Several of the buildings are listed as National Historical Landmarks.
On the left is Healy Hall, in the right, Copley Hall, and on the bottom, White-Gravenor Hall.

After dinnner, we did something we wouldn't normally do, but we stood in line for 2 hours for cupcakes!!! Yes, cupcakes!! For those of you who haven't heard, there is a cupcake shop in Georgetown, called "Georgetown Cupcakes". It was started in 2008 by 2 sisters, Sophie La Montagne & Katherine Kallinis, who gave up thriving careers to open their own cupcake store. Using their grandma's recipes, they have developed a business that now sells 5,000 cupcakes a day!!! The TLC television network picked up their story & now they have a TV show about their business every week called "DC Cupcakes"!! Thus the long lines!! It was fun & it's another story to add to our growing list of things we have experienced here in DC!!!

As Dan & I say "Seize the Day!!!"