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Four New DC Guidebooks That Even Locals Might Dig

Did you know a Civil War colonel's amputated leg is entombed at the Navy Yard?

Photo by Jorge Alcala on Unsplash.

Great guidebooks aren’t just for tourists. Are these new ones worth your time?

A Literary Guide to Washington, DC by Kim Roberts

Four walking tours take you where famous authors lived, worked, and partied. Learn about Walt Whitman’s experience tending injured Civil War soldiers or stop by the house where Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and other luminaries met for salons.

111 Places in Washington That You Must Not Miss by Andréa Seiger

This wide-ranging checklist is a mix of the familiar (the “Exorcist steps”) and the fascinating (a Civil War colonel’s amputated leg is entombed at the Navy Yard?). Natives will be thrilled to see atypical guidebook fare such as Sullivan’s Toys and Vace Italian Deli’s pizza.

Lost Farms and Estates of Washington, DC by Kim Prothro Williams

Wondering what your neighborhood was like before it was developed? This book pieces together the history of rural Washington, such as John Adlum’s Cleveland Park estate and free black carpenter John Payne’s land, which later became home to Payne’s Cemetery.

Strange and Obscure Stories of Washington, DC by Tim Rowland

Rowland has an entertaining voice and a keen eye for detail. Maybe you knew that the George Washington portrait Dolley Madison saved from the White House before it burned in the War of 1812 was a copy rather than the original. We didn’t.


This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.