It’s not like downtown Washington is a ghost town on Sunday afternoons and evenings, but it’s not far from that. Not that I minded. I began my hike at 3 pm, partly, I’ll admit, to escape the 2.95 Mbps download speed in the Airbnb pad. (I have 85 to 90 Mpbs in my WeHo home.) I stopped for 90 minutes at Le Pain Quotidien near Dupont Circle for a little writing/editing, and then off to the races. To appreciate the Paris-like street scheme you need to have roamed Paris, of course. Not the usual rectangular grids but big, broad boulevards connecting roundabouts and wide-open plazas with huge, stunning, illuminated-after-dark buildings. D.C. was designed in the early 1790s by Pierre Charles L’Enfant. Paris didn’t become this kind of city until Napoleon III and city engineer Georges-Eugène Haussmann began their 17-year makeover, beginning in 1854.
Since last July the White House has been on some kind of double-security lockdown — extra fences, barriers, uniformed security guys. Keep your distance, citizens! All due to the Secret Service Improvements Act of 2015. It’s like they’re expecting some kind of armed assault. In the early Clinton days you could walk right up to the iron fence surrounding the property and put your hands on the bars — no longer.
The exterior of the house where Abraham Lincoln died (a.k.a., the Petersen house, built in 1849) looks like brick but is actually some kind of fake plaster.