D.C. street cars last ran 50 years ago but are returning

Streetcars to return soon to the District | GalleryThe Post
The last street car in Washington, D.C. stop running 50 years ago this past Saturday. That system had been in decline following World War II. Street cars served the nation’s capital for a century. The Smithsonian‘s National Museum of American History‘s On the Move Exhibit Web site has a feature called “A Streetcar City” about Washington’s street cars.

Street cars are expected to return to D.C. in the next few years with tracks being installed on H Street NE and in Anacostia.

If you want to see what the old-time street cars were like, head up to National Capital Trolley Museum in Colesville, Md. I went once as a kid and will probably be going again this spring. The FAQ is also worth reading because it explains that traditionally it was “street cars” in Washington, instead of “streetcars.” It seems that custom is no longer observed, though I’ll do it. The difference between trolley, street car and light rail is also explained.

Lastly, the Wikipedia page on D.C. Street cars is very informative.

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R.I.P. Joe Paterno

I am only getting to my obituary for Joe Paterno now because I wasn’t sure what I could add to the thousands of tributes already out there. I’m going to try and fill in something that I think has been overlooked. That aspect was also a little hard to find online until late last week.

Paterno won 409 games, 2 undisputed national championships, had undefeated seasons in 4 different decades, won 3 Big Ten Championships, every bowl game that mattered and more than any one else for that matter. His on-field legacy is secure. His “Grand Experiment” of having football players who were students is unsurpassed in big time college football. Paterno’s football players graduated a rate higher than the Penn State population in recent years and probably over his entire tenure. The praise he gathered for that was well-earned.

An aspect of Paterno that I feel that may have been overlooked was his direct role in shaping the Pennsylvania State University. The fame that his successful football teams brought raise the profile of the university. Paterno would have been a memorable figure for that, particularly the the way he did it. However, Paterno did not settle for that and at the peak of his power and prestige, he decided that the Penn State could not settle for being #1 just in football. Following the 1982 National Championship, Paterno was invited to speak to the Board of Trustees. Instead of a pep talk, he outlined a vision for the university. Here is an excerpt from Paterno’s January 22, 1983 speech to the Board of Trustees, 29 years to the day before died (Google Doc):

So we do have a magic moment and we have a great opportunity, and I think we have got to start right now to put our energies together to make Penn State not only Number One, but I think we’ve got to start to put our energies together to make this a Number One institution by 1990. I don’t think that’s an unfounded or a way-out objective. I think we need some things. I talk to you now as a faculty member. I talk to you as somebody who has spent 33 years at Penn State, who has two daughters at Penn State, who probably will have three sons at Penn State, who has a wife that graduated from Penn State, who has two brother-in-laws that graduated from Penn State, and I talk to you as somebody I think who knows a little bit about what’s going on. Who has recruited against Michigan, Stanford, UCLA, who has recruited against Notre Dame, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard and who has had to identify some things that they have that are better than we have and has had to identify some of our problems. I talk to you as somebody that I think knows a little bit about what’s going on in the other guys, and I think a little bit about what’s going on here. We need chairs. We need money so that we can get some stars. We need scholarship money. We need scholarship money to get scholars who can be with the stars so that the stars will come in and have some people around that can stimulate them and they can be stimulated by the stars. We need a better library–better libraries would be a better way to put it–so that the stars and the scholars have the tools to realize their potential. We need an environment of dissent and freedom of speech and freedom to express new and controversial ideas.

Paterno was vice chair of the first “Campaign for Penn State” the raised $352 million from 1984-1990. He continued to raise money for Penn State for decades and with his wife, Sue, contributed over $4 million. He specifically raised money for the library which now bears his last name. The modern Penn State, a modern research institution with many nationally ranked colleges, schools and departments is his greatest legacy.

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Redskins, D.C. won last major championship 20 years ago today

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Washington Redskins last super bowl victory and the last D.C. championship in the four major sports (football, baseball, hockey, basketball). DC United has won several MLS championships since then.

I remember telling a friend that year that the NFC was the Redskins to lose — the Dallas Cowboys were a year away, the New York Football Giants lost Bill Parcells, the San Francisco 49ers were in transition and the NFC Central was the NFC Central, so no worries. Washington hosted the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions the playoffs — there was no way either of those teams would come into RFK Stadium and win. Just impossible.

The Post has a big section about the Super Bowl XXVI team today that is full of excellent nostalgia, including Tony Kornheiser’s Bandwagon columns. Don’t take their word for it though, let Donald Sutherland (?!) narrate the whole season for you!

That was an episode of America’s Game the 1991 Washington Redskins from NFL Films (via Hulu). It is pretty good.

Here is the Super Bowl XXVI game highlights from NFL Films (via Hulu), but narrated by Jeff Kaye:

I also remember that the great Glenn Brenner died right after the NFC Championship — I forgot to acknowledge that here.

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Penn State hockey: More Pegula Ice Arena details released

Board of Trustees Approves Pegula Ice Arena DesignIntercollegiate Athletics
More details about The Pegula Ice Arena were released at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting. The future home of Penn State Nittany Lions ice hockey will have 6,000 seats, including 1,000 behind the opposition’s net.

The exterior is nothing special, likely the same brick as the Bryce Jordan Center with lots of glass on the north (or east according to the Penn State compass) side. The interior looks good, kind of intimate without being cramped. It should be fun going to games there. Opening is scheduled for Sept. 2013.

This is also a good reminder to Pat Chambers and the men’s basketball team — get respectable by 2013, you have winter sports competition coming!

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Nats don’t sign Prince Fielder to a stupid contract

The Hot Stove has gone cold for the Washington Nationals — Prince Fielder, the biggest free agent left, signed with the “mystery team” — the Detroit Tigers . The terms 9 years, $214 million for a player who weighs 275 lbs and has “early onset old player skills” written all over him. Good luck Tigers, at least you can make him a DH.

The Nationals likely would not have met Boras’s price, anyway. They were wary of offering more than six or seven years, according to one person familiar with the Nationals’ thinking, and Boras believed from the start he could get Fielder a contract of $200 million. – Prince Fielder chooses Detroit Tigers over Washington Nationals (The Post)

Fielder would have certainly made the Nats better for several years, but you have to wonder what happens after he hits the wall, a near certainty 4 or 5 years into the contract.

So, what are Nats fans going to tweet about now?

Now, the Nats focus can return to extending Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals Journal, The Post). I don’t expect anything to happen this offseason unless Zimmerman really wants to sign.

Sorry, Nats fans who wanted Fielder, it just wasn’t to be:

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Joe Posnanski also spoke with Joe Paterno in the final days

Paterno’s final days: no bitterness, just marveling at his fortunate lifeSports Illustrated

In the moments after Joe Paterno died, it became common for people to write and say that he died of a broken heart. He did not. Joe Paterno died of lung cancer and the complications it caused. He did not die a bitter or broken man.

Joe Posnanski spent the fall in State College preparing to write a book at Joe Paterno and Happy Valley. It was something that I looked forward to reading, even though I have read countless Paterno biographies. Posnanski is just such a good writer and I was sure he would come up with a great book that would provide additional illumination.

Paterno had said that he would not speak with Posnanski due to the commitments of running the program, but following the dark days that Jerry Sandusky brought to Penn State, Paterno had the time. Aware of his mortality facing lung cancer, Paterno changed his mind and spoke with Posnanski.

I am sure there will be more in Posnanski’s book, but this short article makes it pretty clear that the “died of broken heart” narrative is a false one. All of those books and all that I knew of Paterno suggested this would not be the case and this confirmed it. Cancer (especially diagnosed as late as Paterno’s was) and cancer treatments puts a tremendous toll on someone. I suspect the latter proved to be the specific cause of Paterno’s death.

I am still trying to piece together my thoughts on Paterno’s legacy and it may be a few days yet. I need to give the same consideration to that as I did my post-Sandusky posts that were critical of him. I stand by those, but they are not the whole story by a long shot.

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Uninformed NFL predictions – Conference championship games

The Northeast corridor is well represented in the NFL championship Sunday with 3 teams playing. At least one will move on to the Super Bowl. This is the best Sunday in pro football, better than the Super Bowl which is amateur night and about things like ads and half-time shows.

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

About 400 miles of Interstate 95 separate the two stadiums. I guess I’m grudgingly rooting for Baltimore because the thought of the Ravens going to Indianapolis for a Super Bowl is kind of funny. Oh and I like their marching band too.

I think the Patriots win though, because I’ll take the Pats offense can overcome the Ravens defense better than the Ravens offense can overcome the Pats defense. If Ray Rice has a big game, which he didn’t against the Houston Texas, Baltimore has a chance. I also think New England wins because it keeps Penn State from having a full time coach for another two weeks.

PATRIOTS 34 Ravens 24

New York Football Giants at San Francisco 49ers
The battle of I-80! Or the Lincoln Highway! I’m filled with nostalgia for the NFL I loved before I went to college. Two flagship teams wearing excellent old-school (for the most part) uniforms playing on a real grass field that will probably be coming up in clumps. Candlestick Park is one of the few NFL stadiums left that has any character for the television viewer. I cannot wait to watch this game.

The sloppy field probably favors the 49ers with their run gun and stout defense. However, San Francisco gave up over 30 points last week at home to the Saints. I picked the Giants to go to the Super Bowl, so I guess I have to keep picking them. I think Eli Manning is in the zone and the Giants defense knows it is time to play. They have been through this before with head coach Tom Coughlin. Either way, I’m rooting for the winner of this game to win the Super Bowl too. I always liked the NFC better anyway.

Giants 24 49ERS 20

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