Washington Monument

Posted by Ellen

The only skyscraper in the city of Washington, as glimpsed from Arlington National Cemetery.

Posted by Ellen
Ninety-nine years ago, in the winter of 1914, a Washington lawyer by the name of Wrisley Brown could fly on horseback across West Potomac Park without encountering traffic or tourists or even another horse.
 
Woodrow Wilson was president then, and the world was different. But when I was a little girl, which spanned a few years roughly halfway between the Wilson era and the current unpleasantness, people still rode horses in West Potomac Park, at least on summer Sundays, when the polo teams were playing. The Internet tells me that polo still happens there, with the Washington Monument as backdrop, or at least still happened there this past summer; presumably, it could also happen again next summer if the Republicans decide to unshut the government and reopen the park.

The Washington Monument is listing leftward in this picture, as are the trees in the park. That's an artifact of 1914 photographic technology, which utilized a slit in a spring-wound sheet-metal shutter to allow light focused by the lens to reach the glass-plate film. The slit would drop from top to bottom to expose the plate, but because there was a lens in front of the slit that inverted the light rays, the plate was actually exposed from bottom to top. And meanwhile, for this picture, the photographer was panning from left to right to follow the moving horse. Objects that weren't moving kinda got an angle to them.

A couple of years ago, the Washington Monument came close to acquiring a much more serious lean. The monument took a $15-million blow from a 5.8 earthquake and remains shrouded today in scaffolding, for repairs that probably are not considered important during a government shutdown, even though half the bill has been covered by a private philanthropist. We just can't have nice things any more because, you know, because.

They can play their polo somewhere else, I don't have a problem with that, but who are these people who think it's okay to let the Washington Monument fall to pieces?