News & Politics

We’re Pretty Sure All of These DC Conspiracy Theories Are True

The Bunny Man. The Goatman. The Beast of Barcroft. Washington’s best legends all have some arguable basis in reality. And while conspiracy theories that involve the DC area have gotten a lot less funny in recent years, a recent thread on the Washington, DC, Subreddit that asked for “weird/funny” local lore rekindled our desire to delight in outlandish stories about This Town. Below, a few that we believe—fine, that we’d like to believe—are more than 50 percent correct.

1) “There’s a small but persistent conspiracy theory that the Smithsonian is hiding evidence of giants.” —CrownStarr

Explain this 1922 photo at the White House, please. (Photograph by Harris & Ewing via Library of Congress.)

If it’s good enough for Blink-182’s guitarist, it’s good enough for me—no matter how many people call it mistaking satire for real life. (Is it really a coincidence that I buy most of my groceries at Giant Food?) Plus, if you’ve seen Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, you know there’s a lot more going on at the Mall than we see in display cases.

2) “Best one I’ve heard without any evidence is that some of the copious food trucks that dot the Mall/L’Enfant/Federal Triangle area are spies or feds keeping an eye out for spies/crazies” —InheritTheWind

Washington DC conspiracy theories
Photograph by Flickr user Ted Eytan.

I mean, this just makes sense.

3) “There is a tunnel going from the White House to Fort Reno.” —GaymoSexual

Photograph by Flickr user Martin Locraft.

Despite its correspondence with QAnon followers’ obsessions with fictional DC tunnels, I’m into this theory, because someday I might be President and I’d like to think I would be a thoughtful one who would hate to tie up Bethesda commuters’ afternoon journey with my motorcade just because I wanted to see Ted Leo. Plus I like to point out the “secret” White House entrance on H Street, Northwest, to friends visiting town, and this theory is kind of adjacent.

4) “Like 5 years ago on a Nextdoor post, someone claimed that Mayor Bowser released hundreds of stray cats around DC to help manage the rat problem. I swear I remember reading a few years later that it was actually kind of true.” —notrabmas

Illustration by zaricm via Getty Images.

Yes, it was.

5) “DC streets are designed to form a pentagram” —SheilaBoof

Image via RationalWiki.

There’s no shortage of fact-checks that pooh-pooh this one, but the Carnegie Library is now an Apple Store, and I challenge you to provide a better explanation of how that happened.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.