With more than eight intruders making their way onto the White House grounds in the past year alone (including one toddler who slipped through the fence’s iron bars), the Secret Service is contemplating beefing up security around “the people’s house.” A timeline of the increasing fortification of the presidential mansion:
Early 19th century: The White House grounds were a very popular spot for sightseers. “[T]he iron gates to the White House grounds opened at 8 in the morning and closed at sundown. Almost anyone was likely to wander [the well-manicured gardens], along the paths,” explains American historian William Seale.
1801-1809: President Jefferson replaces the rail fence surrounding the White House grounds with a high stone wall. He then begins his own tradition of opening the mansion doors every day to allow the public to enter and freely explore it.
1817-1825: President Monroe switches the White House’s high stone wall to an iron fence. He also hires guards for his executive mansion on days when the public is allowed into the White House.
1835: After Richard Lawrence attempts to shoot President Jackson, a sentry “watch box” is put on the south grounds.
1922: President Harding creates the White House Police Force to protect the executive mansion and its grounds.
1930: After the White House Police Force allows an intruder into the White House dining room where President Hoover is eating, the Secret Service is put in full control of security.
World War II: Public access to the White House grounds is discontinued. Everyone must now check in with guards at the surrounding gates.
1974: A man affixes flares to his body and drives his Chevrolet Impala into the northwest gate. The White House’s wrought-iron gates are switched to reinforced gates.
1976: Tourist traffic increases to the point that tickets are issued, admitting only a certain number of visitors.
1980s: Following truck-bomb attacks on a Marine barracks, concrete Jersey barriers are put around the White House perimeter.
1995: After the April Oklahoma City bombing, the Treasury Department closes off two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue directly outside the White House. “I acknowledge that the security of the President of the United States is paramount,” says then-senator Rod Grams, “but . . . the need to ensure the President’s safety must be balanced with the expectation of freedom inherent in a democracy.”
2001: Immediately following 9/11, the White House is closed to the general public. Current procedure requires all visitors to apply at least 21 days before their visit to their congressional representative, who then passes their names on to the White House.
Two Washington institutions celebrated anniversaries this weekend. Both count the city’s most powerful among its patrons, with bragging rights to some of DC's most powerful real-estate. One is a household name; the other provides a household necessity.
The first, the Four Seasons Hotel, celebrated its 35th anniversary on Pennsylvania Avenue in Georgetown Friday evening in its own ballroom. The turnout would have been estimable even if only the denizens of the hotel restaurant’s weekday “power breakfast” club had showed up, as they did: BFFs superlawyer Vernon Jordan, Fannie Mae CEO James Johnson, and Kennedy Center Honors impresario George Stevens, plus CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Foreign Policy’s David Rothkopf, two other breakfast-time regulars.
Presiding over the party was the founder and chairman of the Four Seasons chain, Isadore Sharp, and the Washington hotel’s current general manager, Dirk Burghartz. Ward 2 City Council member Jack Evans, spotted talking with both, came armed with a city proclamation honoring the hotel.
The other honoree this weekend was Wagner Roofing. Who? Take a look at the firm’s list of clients, easily a match for the Four Seasons roster: the White House, the US Naval Academy, the Maryland State House in Annapolis, DC’s Old Post Office Building, Lincoln’s Cottage, the Mormon Temple, the Smithsonian Castles, and the Washington National Cathedral. We could go on, but do we really need to?
Chuck and Sheila Wagner hosted a party on Saturday night at Congressional Country Club to mark 100 years since Wagner’s grandfather, Otto, founded the company in Northeast DC. (It is now based in Hyattsville, Maryland.)
Looming over the gathering was an elaborate metal ram’s head. We asked Chuck Wagner about its provenance. He explained that when Wagner Roofing did a complete renovation of the mansard roof of the Beaux Arts Folger Building on 15th Street, Northwest, the metal adornment—one of a few—was basically surplus, so he claimed it for himself. Where does it hang now, when not in a party room at Congressional? “On my house, overlooking the garden.”
It’s not often that a Saturday-night country club party also features a display of tools. But this one did, including mallets, hammers, stakes, cleats, and soldering irons. Oh, and cocktails and sushi, too.
The Washington Capitals preseason is underway, and the regular season begins October 9 at home against the Canadiens. Two changes are in store for the Caps this season: a new coach, 51-year-old Barry Trotz, and that Washington will host the annual Winter Classic, against the Chicago Blackhawks, on January 1 at Nats Park. The Caps won the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, defeating the Penguins 3-1.
Trotz is the 17th coach in Capitals history, hired by owner Ted Leonsis in May to succeed Adam Oates. He comes to Washington from the Nashville Predators with a record as the longest tenured coach in the NHL. He also has a Washington background—he spent five seasons coaching the Caps' AHL developmental affiliate, the Baltimore Skipjacks.
We asked him 16 questions, ranging from hardcore hockey issues to some personal favorites. Here they are:
What was the allure of coming to Washington to coach the Caps?
Foremost was that I was a part of the organization before, and I knew a lot of people. They reached out real quick, but I looked at the roster and said it was still a pretty good roster. I think it is a terrific city. All that being said, that was the big allure.
You have a lot of talent on the team. How will you manage the depth without trades?
Everybody gets better every day. That is how you reach your potential and understand and have a plan on what you are doing. That’s the key—to get better every day and be consistent and accountable.
How do you coach Alex Ovechkin, a superstar who is almost 30 years old? Can he still learn, adjust, and change his game?
The great athletes do adjust their game because they are getting older. They know what they have. You cannot be a one-trick pony all the time. You have to grow your game. Alex has grown his game in some areas, but there is some growth in other areas for him. So you just coach him honestly—you say, “You are a great player, and I want to use you and use your potential, but we can improve in these areas."
Do you see some breakout surprises in the roster?
You're going to see a few guys. You are going to see a guy like Mike Green get back to some of the numbers that he had in the past. John Carlson on the back end will have a breakout season. Up front, I probably say that I am looking for Marcus Johansson to have a breakout season. He is at that age where he needs to get to the next level as a player, and he has the ability to do that.
What’s the key element the Caps have been missing that you bring to the job?
The big element I think that I bring is that I am a veteran coach. I am big on accountability, so they can play consistently. Getting a lot out of the potential that we have here is my strength.
Is this another “tough guy” year for Tom Wilson, or do you have plans to mold him into something more?
I had really high expectations for Tom, and he’s got a little bit of a setback with the major surgery on his ankle\, but I think he can be one of the top power forwards in the NHL given time.
Is it time to retire the shoot-out?
No, it’s time to add some things. We talked about the four on four; we talked about flipping sides so that the changes are longer. But I think it’s important that you have a winner in a game. The one pet peeve I do have is that all games should be worth the same. They should be worth three points, not necessarily two and sometimes one.
With the Winter Classic coming to home turf, how do you make it a motivator rather than it becoming a distraction?
I don’t think it is a distraction at all. I think from that standpoint, it is on my bucket list. It is on a lot of players’ bucket lists. You become the game that day and have maybe the biggest hockey audience of the year on that day. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. It is a big stage. Big players want to have big stages, and we've got some big players.
What do you want—and not want—from the owner?
Number one is to show support through good times and bad times. That’s what ownership does the best. It can have the biggest impact. Obviously the ownership pays the bills and all of that, but you support the group together, and I think that is going to happen here. I love the ownership here.
What’s your favorite hockey movie?
It's got to be old-time Slap Shot. That is a classic. There are too many one-liners in that to not like the movie. Probably the second would be Miracle.
Who is your hockey hero and why?
Bobby Orr. I thought he was the greatest player of all time because he was so far ahead of the competition in his prime. I used to dream about being number four. I used to wear number four. Four has been my lucky number. I have four kids; it has been a really good number for me.
What is your favorite moment on the ice?
There are a couple. The first time I stepped behind the bench in Nashville. The first time I step on the bench in Washington will be a big moment. Big moments are always a first for me. Be it the first game or the first playoff win, they are all big moments for me.
If not the Caps, which Washington team would you want to coach?
I am going to say the Nats, and not just because they are really good right now. I was a Montreal Expos fan all my life, through the years of Andre Dawson, Warren Cromartie, Tim Raines, Gary Carter—all these different people who ended up moving and being the Nats. So I have to say the Nats.
Will the US ever consistently produce hockey players on par with Canada and Russia?
Absolutely; they are doing it now. USA is a powerhouse in the hockey world. They have the development program. If you look at the numbers, there are probably more people playing hockey in the United States now than in Canada. At the level they are teaching, the level the young players are playing . . . at high levels, I don’t see that dwindling. I just see it getting stronger and stronger.
A female professional hockey league has never quite taken off. Why is that?
It all depends. It is all about caliber of play. It is not about gender. To me, if the gender can get the caliber of play that high, to the level of the NHL, then it will succeed. If they can do that or not, I don’t know.
Are you more Baltimore or Washington?
That is a tough one for me, because I was in Baltimore and I lived in Baltimore. I love Washington because I am a big military guy, so I will say I am more of a Washington guy. The one area that I have always been a fan of is the Ravens and the culture they had, a take-no-prisoners type of culture. I always admired that. When I coached in Baltimore, I sort of followed the Baltimore teams, but that is . . . the only area I am a Baltimore guy.
Find Carol Ross Joynt on Twitter at @caroljoynt.
The uproar over the name of Washington’s NFL team has reached the level of a South Park lampooning. The Comedy Central cartoon picks up its 18th season Wednesday by spoofing the recent decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate the team’s trademarks, which, in the show’s universe, gives license to foulmouthed fourth-grader Eric Cartman to use the team’s name and logo for his own purposes.
In a short clip released by Comedy Central on Sunday, Dan Snyder, head coach Jay Gruden, and hobbled quarterback Robert Griffin III confront Cartman in an office decked out in the football team’s imagery to complain that Cartman’s appropriation is “offensive” and “derogatory.” Cartman, of course, responds that he’s only using the name and logo out of an abundance of respect for Snyder and company. Where have we heard that kind of explanation before?
But don’t let Cartman’s trademark abuse be an example just yet: Even though the USPTO says that the Washington team’s name is a racial slur, the franchise’s trademark protections are still in place while it appeals the June decision.
Students generally go to college to learn about subjects like economics or psychology. But the University of Maryland is teaching them how to cross the street.
Since January, three college students have been struck and killed crossing US 1, a busy commuter thoroughfare that cuts through the university’s campus, prompting an elaborate campaign by university and local authorities to make the lethal stretch safer.
At 2 AM on a Friday in January, University of Maryland senior Cory Hubbard was heading across the four-lane highway, just three miles before it meets the Beltway. A dark sedan hit Hubbard with enough force to throw him ten feet in the air before racing off, leaving Hubbard to die. In April, Carlos Pacanins, a 23-year-old visitor from George Washington University, was struck after an evening of drinking when he stepped out onto the street while the “Don’t Walk” signal was flashing.
These incidents motivated the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) to implement three phases to improve pedestrian safety, which they’re calling the “three E’s”: education, enforcement, and engineering.
SHA has lowered the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 as it crosses campus along a row of popular bars and convenience stores. The SHA has also repainted crosswalks, added “Stop for Pedestrians” signs, and shortened pedestrian wait times at cross walks to cut down on students bolting into traffic out of impatience.
By October, two set sets of yellow flashing lights will be installed to alert drivers that they are entering campus.
A five-foot iron fence has also been erected down the median, blocking pedestrians from crossing anywhere but on the crosswalks.
John Brown, owner of R.J. Bentley’s, one of the student hangouts along Route 1, isn’t convinced the fence is high enough.
“These kids are caribou,” says Brown. “You know the college environment—every now and again, no obstacle is too high.”
In honor of both the Nationals and Orioles clinching spots in the playoffs this week, we'd like to see your baseball photos. Whether you're sharing snaps from a trip to Nats Park, your child's little league game, or a softball team playing on the Mall, anything related to America's pastime is fair game. (Need some inspiration? Check out the winning submissions from our Last Hurrah of Summer photo contest.)
Submit your photos by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by tagging #WashMagPhoto on Instagram or Twitter. Please include where the photo was taken and your name with each submission. We'll highlight our favorite photos on Thursday, September 25.
It's not much of a leak, especially not in this town, but still: The National Book Foundation's National Book Awards Fiction Longlist was meant to be shared, sedately, on Thursday, September 18, at 8 AM (at which time, of course, all us book folks would be all a-twitter on The Twitter).
Alas, these days everything's subject to premature revelation. Even serious fiction, supposedly of little interest to the My Personal Screen generation, gets its veil whisked away too soon. Here's the list, published on HuffPo. It's a strong one, and even if you don't agree, you have to admit it's a better balance between male and female writers than the pathetic Non-Fiction Longlist.
UPDATE: They took the link down from HuffPo, but the New York Times has typed it all up for your delectation.
Hey, if it's in the New York Times, then we can publish it here. Right?
Perhaps the most lasting image to come out of the Nationals' rowdy, boozy locker-room celebration after their division-clinching win over the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night was outfielder Bryce Harper sporting a firefighter’s helmet. But just how did an authentic piece of DC Fire Department equipment wind up in a Turner Field locker room, getting doused with beer and Champagne for nearly an hour after the game?
It started last Friday, when John Landi, a firefighter at Engine Company 17 at 49th and East Capitol streets, Northeast, heard from a friend that Harper sent out a tweet (since deleted), saying he was looking for a special favor.
“I got a hold of his representatives, and they told me he wanted a helmet for when they clinched,” Landi tells Washingtonian. “I did what I could. I had a helmet lying around from my collection.”
Harper’s spoken in the past about his admiration for emergency responders. During his rookie season in 2012, he said in response to a fan’s question about what he’d do if he wasn’t a baseball player that he’d “probably be a firefighter.”
The Nationals’ burning through the New York Mets before moving on to Atlanta and closing in on the division title didn’t leave Landi with much turnaround time to get Harper his helmet. Landi says he asked some of his colleagues to make a customized front piece for the helmet, a leather patch reading “DCFD 34 Harper.”
“All our front pieces are custom-made,” says Landi. “A lot of guys have their engine number or truck number. Some guys put their neighborhood, some people use their names. We just used his uniform number.”
The helmet and front piece were ready by Sunday, and Landi dropped it off with Harper’s assistant, who took it down to Atlanta, where it waited alongside the Nationals’ cases of celebratory beer and bubbly for the team to clinch.
“It was pretty cool knowing that I had a part in that,” Landi says. “All the DC firefighters were going nuts on Twitter and Facebook that he was wearing it.”
Harper doesn’t drink, but the helmet got plenty wet last night when the Nationals started pouring booze all over each other to mark their second division title in three years.
“It can hold up under fire so I'm sure the beer and Champagne didn't do much,” says Landi.
Yes, Bryce Harper did wear a firefighter helmet to celebrate Washington's division title and it is AWESOME! pic.twitter.com/f61YHWaVtk— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 17, 2014
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.
It’s safe to say Jeff Bezos loves space exploration more than newspapering: He has invested twice as much into his spacecraft venture, Blue Origin, than he did to acquire the Washington Post a year ago.
At a press conference Wednesday, Bezos announced a partnership with United Launch Alliance to jointly fund Blue Origin’s new rocket engine. ULA is well-established in the space industry and regularly puts satellites into orbit.
Washington Post science writer Joel Achenbach covered the event at the National Press Club. Before he questioned Bezos, Achenbach said he was with the Post.
“Excellent publication,” Bezos said with a grin.
But not excellent enough to visit while he was down the street. According to sources at the Post, Bezos’s trip to DC from his Seattle base came as a surprise.
Achenbach, who authors Achenblog, took the topic from space to the personal.
“Jeff,” he said, “you’re involved in so many things” (referring to Bezos’s role as the founder of both Amazon and Blue Origin and now owner of the Post). “How do you manage your time?”
“Amazon is my day job,” Bezos responded. He adores the job and “ran to the office” as soon as he returned from vacation this summer. He spends the “vast majority” of his time running Amazon.
“It’s my luck that I don’t have any hobbies, like golf,” he said.
That is, of course, except for space.
“I’ve been in love with it since I was five years old,” Bezos said, adding that watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon “imprinted” him.
Bezos didn’t mention the Post among his passions or regular chores.
Space News wrote in July that Bezos has invested $500 million in Blue Origin, with the goal of building spacecraft that can take earthlings on affordable trips into outer space. He spent $250 million to buy the Post.
Find Harry Jaffe on Twitter at @harryjaffe.
At 8 Wednesday morning, as the players no doubt slept off the celebration of clinching the National League East division title the night before, the Washington Nationals team store at Nats Park was open for business. It will be open with extended hours Thursday and Friday, too. After all, what’s one of the first things loyal fans do after a clinch? Proudly wear the bragging rights, that's what.
Customers examined and bought shirts and hats (at approximately $30 each) that matched what the players wore after their victory in Atlanta against the rival Braves. Business appeared brisk, if not a mad rush. There’s time. The team is on the road until a home game against the Mets next Tuesday evening.
The store’s extended hours are from 8 AM to 8 PM. Saturday and Sunday it will open, as usual, at 10 AM and close in the afternoon. In stock are gray and white hats and gray T-shirts reading “Champions 2014.” Still expected in the store are women’s wear and hoodies, though some of those items are available already on the website. According to spokesperson Alexandra Schauffler, “More options will be coming the closer we get to postseason games.”
Find Carol Ross Joynt on Twitter at @caroljoynt.