June 7, 2008

Washington, D.C. Pt. 1

Today we headed into Washington, D.C. For the experience, we rode the bus from the campground to The Metro Station in College Park. Then we rode the subway (The Metro) into the city.

We disembarked right by our first stop of the day, The International Spy Museum.

Next, we visited the National Postal Museum, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution.

Here we learned about many modes of mail delivery used throughout the years such as horse-drawn stagecoach...

railroad mail car...

dog-team sled...

and even the pneumatic tube system utilized in large cities to deliver to office buildings.

Marlon took a look at thousands of rare stamps inside the stamp vault.

The US Postal Service honored Walt Disney Company by featuring Disney characters on stamps issued in June 2004. The four stamps featured: Mickey Mouse, Goofy & Donald Duck; Bambi & Thumper; Mufasa & Simba; Pinnochio & Jiminy Cricket.

Make yourself free postcards for family and friends courtesy of The National Postal Museum. Postage is extra, of course.

We learned about the Victory Mail (V-Mail) system used during World War II. Troops wrote letters which were reduced to thumb-nails on microfilm. The film reels were shipped to the States, developed and printed out on lightweight photo paper. Then they were delivered to the addressee.

The Museum had interesting displays about identifying suspicious packages as well the role of the Postal Inspector.

There was a large display of Rural Mailboxes as Folk Art.

Marlon was not looking forward to the unusual 100 degree heat awaiting us outside the museum and attempted to hire this stagecoach.

Next we visited Union Station. Opened in 1907, Union Station hit its peak during World War II when as many as 200,000 people passed through it in a single day. Throughout the years, the Station declined both financially and physically. Federal and City officials were often attempting to find other functions for the Station.

During the bicentennial celebration of 1976, the Station became the National Visitor Center. Due to lack of publicity though, the National Visitor Center never became popular and closed in October 1978. The Station itself was closed for refurbishment as a result of the Redevelopment Act of 1981.

Thanks in part to $70 million in federal funding, Union Station was restored and reopened in its current incarnation featuring 29 train tracks and a wide variety of shopping and dining experiences. Once again, it is visited by approximately 20 million people each year.
We left Union Station and walked to The U.S. Capitol.
The U.S. Capitol can be toured on a first-come, first-served basis from 9-4 Monday through Saturday. Construction of a brand-new visitor center is currently underway.
On our way back to The Metro Station we walked through Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown.
Watch how a postcard gets delivered and get a view of The Metro Station in this video.
We made it back to Cherry Hill Park to find our friends from Colorado had arrived. Jerry and Lee, coincidentally, had planned their trip here independently of us for the same time frame.
Next up...we all explore the city together.

To be continued...

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