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Plus, places where you can beat the heat this month.
Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Washingtonians of a certain age—i.e., pre-air-conditioning—look back fondly on the forced bonhomie of sleeping in public parks when late summer’s extreme heat and humidity compelled them outdoors in search of a breeze. DC’s Meridian Hill Park, with its cooling fountains, and Hains Point, at the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, were favorite spots for camping out on muggy nights.

The stifling temperatures were inescapable by day. During the heat wave of August 1953, more than 26,000 federal workers were sent home after lunch. Those lost hours—as well as wartime studies using federal employees as guinea pigs—showed that cool offices increased typists’ productivity, prompting the General Services Administration to fit out federal buildings with AC beginning in 1956.

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Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 07/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Dream big. By Benjamin Freed
Image via Washington 2024.

In an instance of Boston losing a sporting event before it even commenced, the United States Olympic Committee announced Monday it is canceling that city's bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Mayor Marty Walsh refused to sign a contract on the city's behalf with the USOC because it could have put Boston residents on the hook for any cost overruns.

Without the contract, US Olympic organizers had to ditch Boston. "We have not been able to get a majority of the citizens of Boston to support hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," USOC Chief Excecutive Scott Blackmun said in a press release. "Therefore, the USOC does not think that the level of support enjoyed by Boston’s bid would allow it to prevail over great bids from Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Budapest, or Toronto."

Even though Boston's bid is done for, the USOC still has until September 15 to formally submit a city to the International Olympic Committee, which will select the 2024 host sometime in 2017. So organizers of Washington's bid, which was defeated in January when the USOC picked Boston, have seven weeks to get back together if they want to make one last run at the 2024 summer games. Here are a few reasons why they should:

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Posted at 03:42 PM/ET, 07/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
But it did make a smart play with Google ads. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Flickr user Ron Cogswell.

What's the best museum in Washington? What's the worst? If you ask Google, the top, advertised result directs you to the Newseum, downtown DC's archive of newspaper front pages, Anchorman props, and famous people's hats.

The Fader's Myles Tanzer stumbled upon the "worst museum" answer when a Twitter pal of his asked for advice on spending a day in DC, and made clear her distaste for the Newseum:

This could be a clever act on the part of the Newseum's marketing department to troll its haters. More likely, it's a ploy to goose revenue. Even with a bustling events business, luxury apartments, and a Wolfgang Puck-branded restaurant, the Newseum is reeling financially, with debts totalling $307 million, according to the Washington Post. The organization is reportedly considering selling a stake in its Pennsylvania Avenue complex, which is appraised at $677 million.

But the Newseum didn't actually buy ads for the search term "worst museum in DC," says spokesman Jonathan Thompson. The Newseum also appears in Google's ad-supported result when you search for "best museum in DC," "pretty good museum in DC," or even "fairly average museum in DC." That's because the Newseum bought the results for "museum in DC."

In other words, however insulting a query you put into Google, if it has to do with DC museums, the Newseum will be first.

UPDATE, 1:01 PM: Actually, there's at least one variation on "museum in DC" that boinks the Newseum off the ad-supported result slot.

Makes sense, considering the Newseum's current financial outlook. Two-day passes are $22.95 for adults.

Posted at 12:05 PM/ET, 07/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Four ex-public servants say how they got into the hospitality industry By Harrison Smith, Christina Ianzito
Victoria Lai, owner of Ice Cream Jubilee and past employee in the Department of Homeland Security. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

We know what you’re thinking out there on the beach: Do I have to go back to my job? Here are four locals who didn’t.

Danielle Vogel: Glen’s Garden Market

Danielle Vogel of Glen's Garden Market. Photographs by Andrew Propp.

Disillusioned after the 2010 energy bill died in the Senate, the former environmental counsel to Senator Joe Lieberman sought other paths toward change. “Food was a pretty obvious answer,” says Vogel: Her dad, Glen Rosengarten, founded New York’s Food Emporium chain. When her Dupont Circle grocery/takeout/bar opened in 2013, her insistence on local goods meant no orange juice or salt. She has relented, but the pain of compromise is soothed when she spots an erstwhile Hill adversary in her aisles.

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Posted at 06:00 AM/ET, 07/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Flickr user Scott Ableman.

Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration has been distributing a visual style guide to city workers and contractors with strict rules about the fonts, logos, and colors municipal agencies can use in their marketing. The guide, which has been circulating since late June, makes an attempt to consolidate city offices' willy-nilly design whims under a unified code.

"The purpose of this style guide is to establish design guidelines for visual information specialists and/or graphic designers," the document reads.

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Posted at 12:19 PM/ET, 07/23/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
"Everyone will know the rules," the Fox News anchor says. By Andrew Beaujon
On August 6, Baier will police ten debaters and a real-time Facebook feed. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

By inviting only the ten top-polling candidates in the crowded GOP field to participate in the first Republican primary debate, Fox News has made the August 6 event, cohosted with Facebook, controversial before it starts (ten is the most candidates ever onstage, but the Republican field now numbers 16). We asked Fox anchor Bret Baier, who is moderating along with Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly, about his debate prep.

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Posted at 11:03 AM/ET, 07/23/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
DC is the first stop on the pope's three-city tour of America. By Elissa Miolene, Sarah Ehlen
Photo by Giulio Napolitano / Shutterstock.com

Pope Francis will visit DC September 22-24, and he'll keep a busy schedule during his 48 hours in town. But area residents might catch a glimpse of the pope (in his Popemobile, of course) as he moves between events and appearances: church visits, greeting President Obama at the White House, speaking to Congress. Here’s where he'll be during his whirlwind visit:

Tuesday, September 22

4 PM Pope Francis will touch down in the late afternoon at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday, flying directly from a three-day visit to Cuba. Though this is the pope’s first trip to the US, he's been to Cuba three times, and he helped reconcile relations between the country and the United States.

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Posted at 03:37 PM/ET, 07/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
These snowy scofflaws don't care what Congress thinks. Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

It’s a rare day when the will of District residents trumps that of Congress, but participants in the Great Sled Uprising of March 5 pulled it off. After years of being told they couldn’t sled down the west side of Capitol Hill—because of a ban enforced since 9/11 in the name of “national security”—a band of kids on a snow day (and their parents) took to their toboggans in defiance. A few Capitol Police officers milled about down the street but made no attempt to stop the little ruffians. In May, the House approved an appropriations bill instructing the cops to ignore renegade sledders in favor of chasing, you know, actual criminals.

This article appears in our July 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:10 AM/ET, 07/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph via the Smithsonian Institution.

It's been 46 years since Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and while many artifacts of the historic space mission are on display at the National Air and Space Museum—including the command module, camera equipment, and even the urine hose the three-man crew used—the spacesuits worn by Neil Armstrong when he made his famous steps is locked up in a storage facility. The Smithsonian wants to put the outfit back on display in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019, and to raise the funds for the planned exhibit, it's turning to a funding source the government-backed museum has never tapped before: Kickstarter.

The Smithsonian on Monday launched a $500,000 "Reboot the Suit" campaign on the fundraising website to finance the restoration, digitization, and display of Armstrong's suit, marking the first effort in a year-long partnership in which the Smithsonian will use Kickstarter to finance exhibits. While the Smithsonian's institutional backbone is supported by the federal government, many exhibits and capital projects rely on private money.

But those private donations are often massive contributions from patrons who wind up with their names on building, as in the Steven F. Udvar-Házy Center or the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. For Armstrong's spacesuit, the Smithsonian is looking to a different breed of donors.

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Posted at 02:38 PM/ET, 07/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Looking for a furry friend? One of these cuties—all available at Washington-area rescues—might be your match.

Yori is a four-year-old beagle/Australian Shepherd mix. She can be a bit tentative at first so moving slowly early on is a good idea. But she quickly warms up and loves to give affection. She would thrive in a quiet home with a human companion who will help build her confidence and take her on walks. In return, she’ll give her adopter a lifetime of devotion. Stop by the Washington Animal Rescue League to meet Yori.

Tallahassee is a big kitty so there’s a lot to love about this sweet dude. He can be a bit bashful at first but once he gets to know you, his true affectionate nature shines through. Tallahassee enjoys toys and adores catnip. If you’re looking for a large, loveable, easygoing feline and have a weakness for orange tabby cats, Tallahassee is the boy for you. And at 8 years old, he qualifies for the Washington Animal Rescue League’s “Boomers’ Buddies” program, which means his adoption fee is waived for adopters 50 or older. Stop by WARL to meet him.

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Posted at 03:31 PM/ET, 07/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()