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License plates by Richard Dragon/

From the "Nation's Capital" to today's politically-charged "Taxation Without Representation," take a peek through photographs cataloguing changes in the district's license plates.

1903 and 1907—DC's First License Plates

DC passed its first motor vehicle registration law in 1903—motorists were required to purchase a plate at their own expense. In 1907 the city began producing porcelain white-on-black plates for motorists to purchase for a modest $1 fee. The city didn't charge registration fees until 1918.

Photographs courtesy of

1966 and 1968—"Nation's Capital"

Photographs by Richard Dragon/

The first DC license plate to include a slogan—"The Nation's Capital"—was offered in 1953. This was also the year when plates were made in the familiar 6-by-12-inch shape seen today. Between 1953 and 1966, DC officials experimented with different combinations of letters and numbers for general-issue plates. By 1966 they settled on an all-number format.


Photograph by Richard Dragon/

In 1976, DC officials celebrated the bicentenntial by issuing a new license plate with "1776 Bicentenntial 1976" written across the top. According to, the style template—blue lettering on a white background framed on top and bottom with horizontal red lines—was the first instance of the basic design still used today. The 1976 plate was the second in the nation to be made with graphic reflective sheeting.

1991 and 1998—"A Capital City"

Photos courtesy of Richard Dragon/

Beginning in 1984, the slogan printed on DC plates changed a total of three times: to "A Capital City" in 1984, to "Celebrate & Discover" in 1991, and to "Taxation Without Representation" in 2000. The 2000 "protest" plate was designed to mimic the slogan of British colonists—"no taxation without representation"—just before the American Revolution. The phrase appears on DC license plates in objection to DC representatives being limited to a non-voting role in the House of Representatives.

2003 and 2015—"Taxation Without Representation"

Photograph by Richard Dragon/

Since 2000, U.S. Presidents have alternatively embraced and rejected displaying the plates on presidential vehicles. Toward the end of his term, President Bill Clinton had the new plates affixed to presidential vehicles. President George W. Bush had them removed when he came into office, and President Barack Obama continued to leave them off for his first term. However, in 2013 President Obama had the "Taxation Without Representation" plates once again added to presidential vehicles, noting in a White House press release "how patently unfair it is for working families in D.C. to work hard, raise children and pay taxes, without having a vote in Congress."

Posted at 11:20 AM/ET, 10/08/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
And the fourth-most on public transit. By Kate Rabinowitz
Photograph via iStock.

As any resident of the DC region knows, this is an expensive place to live. That's in part balanced by the region's wealth. But how do expenses compare to other major metropolitan areas? I often wonder this when I visit other cities, perusing their shops and real-estate listings. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study looks at this very question and reports the average spending of consumer units (like households) across a range of categories.

Check out the interactive chart below to see the percentage of annual expenditures an average consumer unit spends on each category across 18 of the country's largest urban areas. Press a button to change the view and hover over a bar to see the actual dollar amount spent.

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Posted at 11:13 AM/ET, 10/08/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Flickr user Janelle Briana Photography.

Ohio Governor John Kasich is taking criticism for a joke he made during an event Monday at the University of Richmond in support of his sagging campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The student on the receiving end says that not only was Kasich's remark insulting politically, it also was off-base culturally.

"I’m sorry, I don’t have any tickets for Taylor Swift," Kasich said in response to the raised hand of Kayla Solsbak, an 18-year-old sophomore who was trying to ask a question about immigration policy.

Kasich, whose remarks were first reported by the University of Richmond Collegian, also appeared to start invoking the band Linkin Park, but cut himself off to allow Solsbak to ask him about his approach toward undocumented immigrants.

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Posted at 04:31 PM/ET, 10/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph via iStock.

Embedded in the ridership and revenue report that will be presented Thursday to a board meeting of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is an argument that the increasing popularity of Capital Bikeshare as a mode people use to get to work.

"The challenges facing Metrorail include...external and market changes, such as increased telecommuting and more options for trip-making such as bike- and car-sharing services," the report reads.

While the increased usages of Bikeshare, car-sharing services like Zipcar and Car2Go, and ride-hailing apps like Uber are chipping away at Metro's ridership—especially when customer dissatisfaction is at a historic level—those newer modes of transportation eat into car commuting far more. Pinning its sluggish ridership on people trading in their SmarTrip cards for Bikeshare fobs is not going to help Metro recover; in fact, positioning itself as direct competition to Bikeshare might hurt Metro even more in the long run, especially with Bikeshare's latest expansion plans.

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Posted at 03:19 PM/ET, 10/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
With the Capitol clearly in view, these houses exist under the most unsanitary conditions; outside privies, no inside water supply and overcrowded conditions (July 1935). Photograph by Carl Mydans.

Yale University researchers published more photos taken during the Great Depression in America. The photos are all taken between 1935 and 1945, and show what life was like in Washington during America's most difficult economic times. With nearly 6,000 images in the Yale University catalogue of DC, we chose a handful of photos that depict the realities of life in the Washington area during the Great Depression, along with the original captions published by the Farm Security Administration.

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Posted at 01:54 PM/ET, 10/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()

1) Theater Vision

Joe Jacoby's delivery really makes this one. Don't get too excited, Joe! Here's a nice remembrance of other Theater Vision spots.

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Posted at 11:31 AM/ET, 10/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()

Kitty Kelley's 1974 profile of Joe Biden has kicked up a surprising amount of dust since Washingtonian put it online to coincide with our 50th-anniversary issue. "The piece captures the essence of Biden—emotional, authentic, endlessly talkative," New York Times senior editor for politics Carolyn Ryan wrote Friday, "but is also infused with a 1970s ethos and atmospherics that make it an artifact of an earlier journalistic era."

That earlier era can be glimpsed especially well in a passage in which Kelley documents a meeting between Biden and two fellow senators, William Proxmire and Thomas Eagleton. Biden, Kelley writes, tells Eagleton "a joke with an anti-Semitic punchline and asks that it be off the record."

A Biden spokesperson did not reply on the record when Washingtonian asked whether the vice president remembered what the joke was. The remark "was kept off the record," Gabrielle Bluestone noted for Gawker, in a piece summarizing the "The Best Parts of a Very Sexual, Very Horny, Very Good Interview."

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Posted at 01:59 PM/ET, 10/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Photograph by Huggins and Scott Auctions.

The Washington Senators that existed from 1961 to 1971 adopted much of the on-field look left behind the team that bolted Washington to become the Minnesota Twins, right down to the pinstripes. They weren't to last, though. After 1971, the Senators bolted (again), this time to become the Texas Rangers.

Photograph by Legendary Auctions.

After the Senators left, Washingtonians seeking a baseball fix had to look north toward Baltimore. For more than 30 years, the Orioles subbed in as DC's "home team."

The Nationals have undergone a few uniform changes since baseball returned to DC in 2005. Their first uniform featured the team's name in red block letters with navy borders and gold shadows, a design that reminded some fans of the hamburger chain Fuddruckers. The current design was introduced before the 2011 season, and ditched the spelled-out name in favor of the "curly W."

This article appears in our October 2015 issue of Washingtonian

Posted at 11:20 AM/ET, 10/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph via iStock.

Metro's average weekday rail ridership plummeted by nearly 40,000 passengers between 2010 and 2014, forcing the transit system to rely more than ever on fare increases to keep its revenue up, according to a report that will be introduced at a board meeting Thursday. The report offers a grim prognosis for the immediate future, with more customer-service complaints and economic pressures expected to continue challenging the troubled agency.

"The primary non-subsidy source of WMATA operating revenue is Metrorail passenger fares," the report reads. "However, after a long period (from the mid-1990s to 2009) of consistent growth in rail ridership and revenue, Metrorail ridership has declined over the past few years, and *revenue has grown only as a result of regular fare increases."

With ridership decreasing, passenger gripes seemingly constant, and potentially more fare hikes coming, Metro might finally be tumbling down the "death spiral" predicted in 2004 by its then general manager, Richard A. White.

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Posted at 10:24 AM/ET, 10/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
LGW's Fall Kick-off gave members and their guests the opportunity to network and make connections.

On September 30, Leadership Greater Washington hosted nearly 250 business, nonprofit, government and community leaders at its annual 2015 Fall Kick-Off at Long View Gallery. LGW President & CEO Doug Duncan shared the organization's expanded opportunities for community action, awarded the first-ever Maxine R. Baker Youth Leadership Greater Washington Scholarship award to a promising youth, and welcomed the Signature Program Class of 2015 into the LGW network. The event generated excitement, and LGW looks forward to the coming year working together with top area leaders to find innovative solutions to regional challenges.

Photographs by Eddie Arrossi.

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Posted at 01:58 PM/ET, 10/04/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()