Web cams feel like a part of internet history that we collectively forgot to turn off–they’re like modem connection sounds that won’t go away. Now, as so many of us are stuck at home, they’re a nice reminder that we live in a metro area worth looking at. Here’s a list of the web cams I like to check in on for views of the Washington region. Please let me know about your favorites.
You won’t see many of 2020’s star-crossed pink-and-white cherry blossoms, but I still like to look in on the Tidal Basin. It’s wild to see the Rochambeau Bridge and streets that I used to travel on my bike ride home each day so empty. Plus, you get a pretty good view of the National Park Service’s biofilm-removal efforts on the Jefferson Memorial.
National Harbor cam
This camera offers a fixed view of the Wilson Bridge and the now-stationary Capital Wheel. Full-screen this one and you can see banners flapping in the breeze on the dock, the Potomac moving silently, and Alexandria in the distance.
DC traffic cameras
These cameras, which you choose from a map, are, admittedly, an acquired taste, but their periodic update rate gives them a time-lapse quality as you watch cars flow easily through usually bonkers intersections like 17th and K streets, Northwest. Or peek in on the intersection of New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, Northeast, the site of the most car crashes in the District in 2018. Today it looks navigable.
VDOT traffic cams
Virginia has traffic cameras all over the state. Personally, I like looking at a ghostly I-95 and think about hellacious trips past Fredericksburg. I miss a lot about pre-quarantine life, but those not so much!
Maryland highway traffic cams
A robust selection awaits. If it’s been a while since you last gripped your steering wheel in terror while crossing the Bay Bridge, why not check out the next best thing?
Washington Monument camera
This camera was part of a fun conspiracy theory during President Trump‘s Fourth of July spectacle last year–some people thought it had been taken down to hide the crowd size. That wasn’t true, but the camera appears to be back now. (Today, you’ll have to put up with some rain droplets, but the dramatic skies more than make up for the inconvenience.)
Naked mole rat cam
Of all Smithsonian’s National Zoo webcams, I find the one trained on naked mole rats to be the most consistently enjoyable. Today I saw one absolutely going to town on a piece of lettuce. Now that’s time well-spent.