Category Archives: History

The-Beatles-in-Washington-D-C-the-beatles-16976631-717-486

50 years ago tonight, The Beatles played their first U.S. concert in D.C.

Fifty years ago tonight, the Beatles played their first public concert in the United States in the District, the day after an eight inch snowstorm no less. The lads had a snowball fight that afternoon before the show at Washington Colosseum — if you’ve ever taken a train north out of Union Station, you’ve passed it. I think it’s a parking garage now and under disrepair in general.

There is quite a bit of coverage about the anniversary, so I won’t spend much time writing about a concert that happened before I was born. I will say that I need to get the photo above (or one like it) and put it up some day.

DOCUMENTARY ON THE CONCERT

HOW THE CONCERT SOUNDED
lots of screaming girls, some music

1983 DC101 INTERVIEW
WWDC DJ Carroll James interviewed by WWDC/DC101′s Young Dave Brown and Ernie Kaye on December 17, 1983. YDB!

MORE COVERAGE

Beatles Fans Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Historic D.C. ConcertWAMU 88.5 – American University Radio

Photos of The Beatles in Washington, D.C.Ghosts of DC

The Beatles' First Concert in the U.S. (1964)Ghosts of DC

50th anniversary concert reenacts Beatles’ first U.S. show at the Washington ColiseumThe Post

The Beatles would play D.C. again in November of that year (more video or at least still photos with the music over them) and D.C. Stadium in 1966 on their last tour (Ghosts of DC).

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I-95: 50 years ago, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway and Delaware Turnpike opened

 

On this day in 1963, a significant section of Interstate 95 was opened at the Maryland-Delaware border amid pageantry and 10,000 people that included President John F. Kennedy in one of his last public appearances. The Maryland portion, the Northeast Expressway, was 42 miles long from Baltimore County to the Mason-Dixon Line. Across the border, the Delaware Turnpike traveled another 11 miles. Both states now honor the fallen president; the Northeast Expressway name was replaced in 1964 while Delaware merely added an additional name.

Here is report from the Delaware Department of Transportation which includes part of President Kennedy’s remarks

The transcript of the president’s speech is available from The News Journal or from DelDOT as a PDF.

Though only 53 miles were opened that day, it was a pivotal stretch, filling in the gap between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Harbor Tunnel Thruway. All of those three roads, combined with the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, formed a limited access connection between Washington, D.C. and New York City for the first time — it was already possible to travel from Boston to New York without a single traffic light. The JFK/Del. Tpk. was the last major piece of what Steve Anderson of dcroads.net calls the “eastern turnpike complex”

The first piece of the “complex” was completed in 1940 with the opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, followed in 1947 with the opening of the Maine Turnpike. This would be followed with the completion of controlled-access toll expressways in New Hampshire by 1950; Ohio by 1955; in New York and Indiana by 1956; in Massachusetts by 1957; in Connecticut and Illinois by 1958; and in Delaware and Maryland by 1963. By that year, motorists could travel from Maine south to Virginia, or west to Illinois, without stopping at a traffic light. Much of the “eastern turnpike complex” was ultimately absorbed into the Interstate highway system.

The road was tolled in order to get it built quicker:

…funding for other Interstate highways such as the Baltimore (I-695) and Capital (I-495) beltways, as well as urban freeways in those two metropolitan areas, took precedence over the Northeast Expressway. The state highway development program scheduled construction of the Northeast Expressway between 1966 and 1970, long after the aforementioned projects were to be scheduled for completion.

ON THE FAST TRACK TO CONSTRUCTION: In order to expedite construction of I-95, the Maryland State Roads Commission decided to finance construction and maintenance of the expressway with bonds backed by toll revenue. The state, which floated a $73 million bond issue to finance construction of the Northeast Expressway, did not violate Federal highway law because state funds were used to finance construction. However, the highway was to be built to Interstate standards.

The rest of I-95 in Delaware would not be completed until 1968 and the section through Wilmington was controversial. The connector between the Delaware Turnpike and the New Jersey Turnpike is I-295. In Maryland, I-95 would not be completed through Baltimore until 1985 with the opening of the Ft. McHenry Tunnel, though the Harbor Tunnel Thruway (now I-895) provided limited access through Baltimore. I-95 would not be completed as intended in Maryland with the portion inside the Capital Beltway cancelled, causing the number to be reassigned to the eastern portion of the Capital Beltway.

There is still a gap in New Jersey for I-95, but that is being addressed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike and New Jersey Turnpike. Finally.

I am not sure if Maryland is doing anything to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary, but Delaware has an toll booth on display in the Delaware Service Area near Newark.

I have taken countless trips up the JFK/Del. Tpk. over the years, mostly to New Jersey to see family, friends or visit the Shore. While I don’t do that as often anymore, I still know the road and landmarks quite well and have a fondness for it, if not the Delaware Turnpike toll. It can be pretty in the fall and northeast of the Susquehanna River is the most rural portion of I-95 between Northern Virginia and New Hampshire. In Delaware, I enjoy the anticipation of trying to be the first to see the Delaware Memorial Bridge as well as the significance of the split that sends I-95 to Philadelphia and I-295 to New Jersey, it’s Turnpike, it’s Shore and New York.

ADDITIONAL READING

Delaware Turnpike – phillyroads.com
John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway – dcroads.net

After 50 years, I-95 still East Coast’s common thread and economic backbone | GalleryThe Sun

I-95 in Delaware linked East Coast, divided city of Wilmington | Over five decades, as tolls rise civility falls | TIMELINE: I-95 HISTORYThe News Journal

PRESS RELEASE: Original Delaware Turnpike Celebrates 50th Anniversary on November 14, 2013

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Movie: Dawn Strikes the Capitol Dome, 1936

“An impressionistic study of Washington, D.C., on a typical depression day. Includes shots of the Capitol Building, National Archives, Union Station, Arlington Cemetery, statues, British Embassy, Supreme Court, Lincoln Memorial, White House, downtown streets, and typical groups of people (shoppers, government employees, picnickers, tramps, etc.).”

I saw this on Old Time D.C.’s Facebook group the other day and thought I’d share what our nation’s capital looked like prior to World War II.

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DC Brau brings back Heurich Lager

DC Brau, the first brewery in Washington, D.C. to open after Christian Heurich Brewing Company closed in 1956, is bringing back Heurich’s lager. From the DC Brau release – RECREATION OF HEURICH’S LAGER TO LAUNCH IN AUGUST:

Just as most DC residents are closely acquainted with DC Brau today, there was a time in recent history when many Washingtonians knew of Christian Heurich, his successful Foggy Bottom brewery, and his iconic mansion below Dupont Circle. The last time anyone tasted a Heurich beer was 1956, the year his brewery closed and made way for the Kennedy Center. The Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. had been the District’s last production brewery, and no others existed in the city until DC Brau opened in 2011. Heurich’s legacy survives at his former mansion, the Heurich House Museum, which today displays the Heurich family’s original furnishings and decorations, as well as the home’s original state-of-the-art technology.

There is a $150 a ticket launch party (less than 100 remain) at the Heurich House on August 12.

The current celebration of Heurich is a stark contrast to 2006 when Gary Heurich, grandson of brewery founder Christian Heurich, closed his Olde Heurich Brewing Co. From 2006: Foggy Bottom Ale: Olde Heurich Brewing Company closing.

A lack of hometown spirit was one of the things he mentioned at the time. Back then the Heurich House, also known as Brewmaster’s Castle, was in trouble too.

I don’t know if Gary Heurich is involved in this project, so whether the Foggy Bottom or Senate beers which were brewed under contract in Utica, N.Y. for 20 years, will return is unknown. In the short time since his bitter departure, his dream of a brewery in the District has been realized several times, albeit by others.

h/t @BallWonk & @GhostsofDC

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R.I.P. Mayo Stuntz

This Was Vienna, Virginia by Mayo & Connie StuntzThe Town of Vienna, Va.’s preeminent historian Mayo Sturdevant Stuntz, aged 97 years, has died. Stuntz was a lifelong resident and co-author of the book “This Was Vienna, Virginia” that was published in the late 1980s. He visited my social studies class and shared with us his memories of the town.

My brother Christopher, who provided a photograph of the book included here added “the town of Vienna will owe him a debt of gratitude for generations to come.”

FROM VIENNA PATCH

Remembering Vienna’s ‘Unofficial Historian’

Obituaries: Mayo Sturdevant Stuntz, Sr., 97

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Emmett Ashford, first black MLB umpire, made debut at RFK Stadium on this day in 1966

On this day in 1966, the first black umpire made his debut, nearly 19 years to the day after Jackie Robinson made his playing debut. Emmett Ashford umpired third base in the Cleveland Indians vs. Washington Senators Opening Day game at RFK Stadium. Cleveland would defeat Washington, 5-2 before 44,468. BoxscoreBaseball Reference. D.C. Baseball History has more about that game.

The SABR History Project feature on Ashford recalled his first game:

Emmett Ashford’s regular season debut took place on April 9, 1966, in Washington’s D .C. Stadium, the traditional American League opener. His first major league hurdle was getting into the ballpark. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey was in attendance to throw out the ceremonial first ball, and the secret service needed to be convinced that a black man was there to umpire the game. Humphrey later kidded Ashford, who had worked at third base, that he hadn’t had any plays to call. “No plays, no boots,” responded Ashford, “but it was the greatest day of my life.” Joe Cronin told his new employee, “Emmett, you made history today. I’m proud of you.”

Ashford’s first home plate assignment came on April 17, 1966 in New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles game (Baseball Reference Boxscore) at Memorial Stadium.

Ashford had been an umpire in the Pacific Coast League for many years and was 51 when his contract was bought out by the American League. From the L.A. Times article Emmett Ashford made history; will he make Hall of Fame?:

Ashford’s dream was to be a major league umpire, a commitment he made when he heard Branch Rickey had signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945. But first Ashford had to break the minor league color barrier for umpires, which he did.

There was no mistaking Ashford had style — French cuffs, gleaming cuff links and shoes buffed to a pristine shine. And he always brought a typewriter with him on the road so he could answer fan mail. He signed autographs before and after games.

Ashford stayed on one year past the suggested retirement age, ending his career after the 1970 World Series.

HAT TIP

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30 years later, the short and strange history of the USFL’s Washington Federals – Q&A with David Kendrick

Thirty years ago today, the Washington Federals and the United State Football League debuted. Washington Federals LogoI was pretty young, so I don’t remember too many specifics other than one of my older neighbors had his birthday party at a game and another one was still using a Federals key chain a decade later. I also remember green and white uniforms and somewhere in my parents attic, there is an old Post sports section with the story of SMU’s Craig James signing with the franchise. I would see that every year when we went up to get the Christmas stuff down. There is a USA Today sports section previewing the NFL conference championships, but I’m getting off topic.

The upstart spring football league had a national TV contract with ABC. Some of the first Federals game is posted on youtube:

That was Jim Lampley & Lee Corso on the call. The opposition was George Allen’s Chicago Blitz, so I’m sure the former Redskins coach’s appearance in RFK Stadium was a big storyline. I think Corso went on to coach in the USFL — maybe even the successor to the Feds, the Orlando Renegades.

I’ve been aware of The Unofficial Revival Site of the Washington Federals by David Kendrick and I have been waiting for this anniversary to ask about a Q&A and I’m delighted he agreed to one.

WFY: Why were you a Washington Federals fan and what motivated you to start up the Federals tribute site?

DK: The Federals were just getting started the year the Redskins beat the Dolphins in the Super Bowl. I loved football and being a football fan. I was just in 10th grade, and my family didn’t have Redskins tickets, so I got Federals tickets and became a fan.

In 2001 my son and I went to a Birmingham Bolts XFL game, and I shared some memories of the Federals with him, which led me to building the Federals site.

WFY: How many Federals games did you attend? Did the stands ever rock like the did for the Redskins? What was the average home attendance of the Federals?

DK: The first year of 9 home games I went to 6 including the debut vs. Chicago and their first win vs. Michigan. The second year, of 9 home games, I went to 7, including the farewell vs. New Orleans. The stands never rocked for the Federals. You have to remember that the Feds home games were all played either in driving rain or scorching heat. There weren’t any nice spring days at the stadium except maybe in ’83 vs. Boston and a beautiful spring night in ’84 vs. New Jersey. I won’t speculate on “average home attendance” since the house was pretty frequently papered up.

WFY: Did the Federals receive much local coverage in print and broadcast during their stay?

DK: At first they did, there was a lot of excitement and interest since DC didn’t have baseball and the Redskins were on top of the world. As soon as the losing and foul weather set in, interest really tapered off. This was before the Internet, so you couldn’t follow the team except on ABC if you were lucky while they were showing the Herschel Walker Game of the Week, or if you caught George Michael at 11:30 on Channel 4. The Washington Times’ coverage of the Federals was much better than the Post’s; at that time the Times ran color photos every day, which was unique, and put a lot of effort into it.

WFY: Were the Federals able to develop any rivalries?

DK: Not really. The nearest team was Philadelphia, but they were just unbeatable. There was a sort-of rivalry with Chicago because of the George Allen connection. There was no Dallas team in the USFL, so a copycat rivalry wasn’t going to happen.

WFY: Other than Craig James, did any other Federals make it into the NFL? Has James subsequent broadcasting career brought shame to the legacy of the Feds?

DK: There were several Federals who made it into the NFL after they left the USFL. Obed Ariri played for Tampa Bay; Mike Hohensee, of course, was the “replacement” quarterback for the Bears during the ’87 strike; Reggie Collier was the replacement QB for the Cowboys. Joel Patten played for the Raiders; Kevin Kellin had a good career in the NFL; D.D. Hoggard played a number of years for the Browns.

Don’t forget Myke Horton, who went on to a career as “Gemini” on American Gladiators. (WFY notes: Horton was on Press Your Luck which you can watch on a sketchy youtube wannabe with risque thumbnails)

I have a special place of loathing in my heart for Craig James, and not just because he is a hypocrite and thief. He took lots of money from Mr. Bernhard, played when he felt like it, quit as soon as he could, and then blamed the team for his bad performance in Washington, never mind that Billy Taylor and Curtis Bledsoe both had excellent years behind the same offensive line that Craig James couldn’t manage to work with. The whole fracas with his son in college is just more evidence that he’s a look-at-me guy with no backbone, and since he was just as much on the take as everyone else at SMU in those days, he ought to shut his stupid mouth. James’ time with the Feds is an embarrassment, but only to himself.

WFY: Some USFL teams have had reunions, have the Federals? Have any of them found your site?

DK: I have reached out to a number of ex-Feds like Kim McQuilken and Walker Lee, who scored the first TD in Feds history. Most of them speak fondly of the Feds and the USFL but clearly have moved on. There was a sort-of reunion in ’88 at a benefit for Gurnest Brown, who was having severe health issues and later passed away. I’ve been in contact with Mr. Bernhard and have an invitation to interview him about it the next time I’m in D.C.

WFY: Which version of the uniforms did you prefer, the white/green or the silver/green combo? Did they typically wear white or green at home?

DK: I never really cared for the silver/green/black combo. A lot of team events in ’84 still used the team’s ’83 uniforms and merchandise, like the press conference to introduce Reggie Collier had “1983 Inaugural Season” team pennants in the background.

In 1983, they wore white at home and away for the first part of the season because their green jerseys were delayed. For the rest of ’83 and all of ’84 it was green at home and white on the road.

For a while my site linked to a company called Ra Ja Sha, which made USFL memorabilia merchandise like jerseys and hats, but they folded after a year or so.

WFY: What was the high-water mark for the Federals? Was the owner calling them “trained gerbils” the low point?

DK: No, the low point was the ’84 game vs. Vince Evans and the Chicago Blitz at RFK. They would have won the game with a chip shot field goal – their kicker then was Jeff Brockhaus, who wasn’t bad. The holder, I think it was Dave Smigelsky, dropped the snap, dove on it, and the game was over. I don’t think Smigelsky would have been able to do anything with the ball if he’d picked it up and tried to make something happen, but still, it’s the last play of the game! You’re a professional football player! Don’t just FALL ON THE BALL with ZERO ON THE CLOCK and you’re LOSING!!!

The official USFL retrospective video has a whole section on how bad the Federals were. They called Feds fans “Impervious to the obvious.” That’s embarrassing.

The high point was the Friday Night Surprise in ’84 against Brian Sipe, Herschel Walker and the New Jersey Generals. Greg Taylor returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, from somewhere they came up with a 98-yard scoring drive, and they won the game. The weather was perfect, cool and dry; the stadium was pretty full with Donald Trump’s traveling all-star show in town; the Federals showed up ready to play. That was the high point.

WFY: How tough was it for you when you found out the Federals were moving away?

DK: Not tough at all. It was understood that Mr. Bernhard had lost his shirt, so to speak, and couldn’t endure the financial losses any more. The writing was on the wall, and the first sale of the team, to Sherwood Weiser in Miami, was actually announced before the ’84 season was over. At the farewell game everyone knew it was over. They won the game over New Orleans on a drizzly gray day. Afterward the players started throwing equipment to the fans in the stands; I almost caught Dave Pacella’s helmet – and we all knew it was over. Weiser was going to move the team to Miami, but that deal fell through, and eventually they were sold to the guy from Orlando who moved them to Florida and renamed them the “Renegades.”

WFY: Where else online can we learn more about the USFL?

DK: There is a pretty good site called RememberTheUSFL which covers the entire league. Wikipedia should be avoided; like all crowdsourced media, it’s full of nonsense.

AFTER YOU CHECK OUT KENDRICK’S FEDS SITE

It Was Up, Up And No WaySports Illustrated (May 14, 1984)
“For the hapless Washington Federals, the USFL ain’t what it used to be”

Washington Federals Punter

Oursports Central Washington Federals

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Redskins first championship was 75 years ago today

Today was the 75th anniversary of the Washington Redskins first NFL Championship which concluded their first season in D.C. As always, Dan Steinberg looked back at how The Post covered it on DC Sports Bog. Here is the lede:

“In a wild, frenzied battle for points on the frozen turf of Wrigley Field, the deft arm of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh prevailed today and Washington’s Redskins emerged as the champions of the National Football League,” the A1 dispatch began. “From the stabbing efforts of Baugh’s rapier-like heaves, the big, bruising Chicago Bears, champions of the West, reeled and stumbled and finally yielded to the Redskins, 28 to 21. It was a triumph of Baugh over brawn, of East over West.

Emphasis mine — that was the great Shirley Povich reporting. Baugh led the Redskins back from a 21-14 defecit for the 28-21 win. The rookie quarterback threw 3 touchdowns on an icy Wrigley Field with a bad leg while wearing rubber souled sneakers for the first time in his life. Fewer than 16,000 fans braved the sub-freezing temperatures, but apparently 3,000 came from the nation’s capital.

Here is a newsreel of the game – no narration, just music and title cards to go with the action.

The Redskins beat the Bears again for the championship in 1942, avenging a close loss in 1940. In the modern era, they won Super Bowls XVII, XXII and XXVI.

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Old Dominion Drive was built on trolley right-of-way

A trolley to Great Falls

GREAT FALLS, Va. — While it had occurred to me that the design of Old Dominion Drive was atypical for Northern Virginia roads, I had not thought about it enough to hypothesize that it was actually railroad-grade. A visit to Great Falls Park this past weekend enlightened me to that and it all made sense.

Untitled

The Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad Company was a subdivision of Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. The NPS explanation says that “light rail” was opened on July 4, 1906 to Great Falls Amusement Park. Within a year, 1.6 million trips went up the line.

Trolley mock-up

Virginia Secondary Route 738Virginia Route 309In 1934, the Great Falls line was discontinued and replaced by Old Dominion Drive which is mostly a two-lane road between Great Falls and its terminus in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington. In McLean and near the Glebe Road intersection and Marymount University, Old Dominion Drive is four lanes, but I do not anticipate any additional widening. West of VA 123, the road is secondary route 738, east of it it is primary route 309.

Highway markers by Shields Up!

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