It was great to be offered an opportunity to submit a guest post on Google Sightseeing, following in the footsteps of Kyle Kusch of The Basement Geographer. Google Sightseeing is one of my all-time favorite blogs and it was a pleasure working with its principal authors, Alex and James Turnbull.
I titled my guest post "Oddities in Washington, DC."
For those of you visiting here for the very first time following the link from that guest post, I offer my sincere welcome. For the regular readers of the Twelve Mile Circle, you’ll find the content similar to what you’ve come to expect here although maybe in smaller snippets.
I had way too much material. A bunch of examples hit the cutting room floor as I squeezed the article to keep the word count reasonable. Originally I had three ideas for each of the headings but I reduced it to two. The slashing was pretty severe. I know you’re thirsting for the rest of the material so I’ll gladly present the content that didn’t make it into Google Sightseeing.
We have Exclaves
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Travelers along the George Washington Parkway between Interstate 395 and Interstate 66 get to clip a little corner of the District of Columbia which owns the Potomac River up to the opposing riverbank. Visitors will not see a sign or any evidence notifying them as they enter the District nor when they leave it more than a mile further down the road.
Reason Cut: It’s not really an exclave. It’s an interesting anomaly especially for Virginia drivers who are aware of the situation but it’s also connected to the rest of the District by the Memorial Bridge.
We have Lines
I’m not featuring the U.S. Capitol because of its inherent iconography but because a visitor can stand beneath the dome and be in all four quadrants of the city (NE, SE, NW, SW) simultaneously!
Reason Cut: I was going to tie it in with the Original Capitol Columns entry. Ultimately I felt it strayed the furthest from the non-touristy angle I was taking, even if the oddity had less to do with the building and more to do with the invisible lines that run through it.
We have History
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What other location includes the ruins of an antebellum plantation tucked between two urban parking garages? One will find Abingdon Plantation, ancestral home to the Custis family, at Arlington’s National Airport.
Reason Cut: I could probably make a case that because Arlington and much of Alexandria in Virginia were once part of the original District of Columbia (prior to the 1847 retrocession), that they could fit within the subject matter of an article on Washington, DC oddities. I used that justification when I mentioned the boundary stones and it seemed to work because they were tied directly to the District’s territorial formation and adjustment. That’s not the case with other "former DC" locations so they were the first that I cut.
We have Conundrums
Again in Arlington, heads swivel when encountering the paradoxical church with a gasoline station beneath it. Some call this unusual combination Our Lady of the Gas Pump and others the Exxon United Methodist. I call it unique. Save your soul and fill your tank at the same time.
Reason Cut: Another "former DC" location now in Virginia. Cut.
We have Contradictions
Imagine an Air Force Base without a runway or airplanes. Fixed-wing airplanes haven’t landed at Bolling Air Force Base since the 1960’s although helicopters still use it. It still has the old control tower, though.
Reason Cut: This one seemed to fit the theme but it fell within in a tough category. One of them had to go and this was it. I’ve done some additional research on this topic and I expect to post an in-depth article someday in the future.