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  1. I'm bringing a group of friends to Poste tomorrow night. I haven't been for dinner there in over a year. Anyone been lately? Suggestions?
  2. A'ight kids, put yer reading caps on Friday was our 7th wedding anniversary. That means its been 7 years since some generous friends took us to a meal at the Inn at Little Washington as a wedding present. Our gustatory urges had been slowly awakening over the previous year, driven in part by our release from the penury of graduate school into gainful employment, and we had wined and dined ourselves at Obelisk, Cashions and DC Coast to name but a few. Fine restaurants all. But "The Inn" was the big kahuna. Remember that in DC in 1998, there was no Maestro, no Laboratorio, no CityZen, no Eve, a reminder of how spoiled we are for fine dining options now (I think Citronelle was there but for some inexplicable reason we have yet to dine there). The passage of time, the loss of brain cells and a couple of years of sleep deprivation have taken their toll, and memories of the meal are hazy, but we remember literally being *blown away* by the whole experience. The setting, the service, and most importantly the food were all superlative - we had never experienced anything like it - I remember a sublime molten Valrhona chocolate cake before it had become a tired cliche. Two years later we returned, flush with the proceeds of a Harry Potter arbitrage scheme on eBay, and left wondering whether The Inn had changed or had we changed. Were our expectations too high after our first visit? Had we become more discerning as diners? Or was The Inn standing in place, content to serve a menu eerily similar to two years beforehand to those willing (and there were still many of them) to make the two hour trek from metropolitan DC, or even further afield? Some of the dishes were very good, but lacked the wow factor of our previous visit, and the service seemed a little detached and rote. As we left, the prevailing sense was that for $120+ per person BEFORE wine, tax or tip was it just wasn't good enough. Based on the comments on several other food sites it seemed as if we were not alone in this opinion. Time passed and we concentrated our fine dining adventures closer to DC, enjoying spectacular meals at Maestro, Laboratorio, and Eve, or overseas (Arzak, McNean Bistro). Last Christmas, my sister, remembering our raves from our first visit generously gave us a gift certificate for The Inn. While grateful for the gift, we honestly were not that jazzed about going back to The Inn and sat on the gift cert for a while (and in the "We do it because we can" category, shame on The Inn for voiding gift certs after ONE year). We finally decided to go in late-September and turn it into an anniversary celebration both for us, and my parents who would be visiting. My mother has a garlic allergy which can make dining out a difficult process so I mentioned it as I made reservations, and was assured it would not be a problem. Then the day of the meal, our babysitting fell through and I called The Inn to find out if it would be ok to add a 4-year old to our reservation. Again, they said it was not a problem (to be honest I was surprised at this, as an ultra high-end restauranteur, adding a 4 year old into a dining room full of boomers spending $200+ per person seems to have lots of downside). We arrived just in time for our 6.30 reservation and were shown to a circular table overlooking the courtyard (the same table as our first time there, maybe a coincidence, maybe not). Our amuse bouche arrived quickly, with about 8 for the non-garlic allergites (is that a word?) on one place and 3 or 4 on a separate plate for my mother which I thought was a nice touch. The amuse bouche included a mini-BLT (still on the menu after all these years) a red wine risotto filled ball, parmesan crisps, a rabbit turnover, a mini-ham sandwich and one or two others which I have forgotten. In general the amuse were good but not earth shattering. In ordering for the rest of our meal, our waiter took scrupulous care in accommodating the garlic allergy, to the extend of tweaking the making and presentation of dishes to ensure there would be no garlic but that my mother could still order just about whatever she wanted. I was very impressed. After the amuse came a complimentary cup of chilled watermelon soup with a hint of tequila. The soup was excellent - creamy, yet light, tasting of summer, and with the tequila giving its just the slightest kick. They even brought a cup of the soup (minus the tequila!) for our daughter, which she loved. For the first course proper, me and my mother had Prawns and Charred Onions with Mango Mint Salsa, while my wife and dad had Maryland Crabcakes Sandwiched between Fried Green Tomatoes with Silver Queen Corn Salsa. In general both dishes were excellent, but I think the prawns shaded it. Three large, succulent prawns paired nicely with the sweetness of the charred onion and the salsa. In another nice touch, they brought our daughter some macaroni (penne pasta to be precise) and cheese between our first and second courses so we could concentrate on feeding her and still be able to eat ourselves. This was seriously tasty and I'm guessing they used several different cheeses in its preparation. For the second course, I had A Marriage of Hot and Cold Foie Gras with Homemad Quince Preserves, my mom had a Morel Dusted Diver Scallop on a Cauliflower Puree, my wife had A Fricassee of Maine Lobster with Potato Gnocchi and Curried Walnuts, and my dad had A Warm Salad of Stone Church Farms Seared Duck Breast with Baby Arugula, Pine Nuts and Parmesan. In general, I adore foie gras and ordered this dish mainly for the seared foie with aged balsamic and it did not disappoint, but was pleasantly surprised at the "Cold" part of the dish, which was a delicious pate served with a small piece of toasted bread. For our main course, myself and my dad Medallions of Rabbit Loin Wrapped in House Cured Pancetta Surrounding a Lilliputian (!!) Rabbit Rib Roast Resting on a Pillow of Pea Puree, my mom had Prime Angus Tenderloin of Beef on Silver Queen Corn Saute with Wilted Baby Spinach, and my wife had Sesame-Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with Silver Queen Corn Succotash. I don't think I'd really eaten rabbit before and it was excellent. The pancetta added a good deal of flavor and it was surprisingly tender. The sea bass was also good, and the corn succotash was very flavorful. For dessert I had cheese, my wife had a trio of chocolate desserts (Black Forest Mousee Bombe, Chocolate Creme Brulee, and Bitter Chocolate Souffle), my father had the "Seven Deadly Sins", and my mother had a trio of peach desserts (Peach Melba, Peach-Champagne Sorbet and Peach Cobbler). In general I thought the desserts were good but not outstanding, although I think I was more in the mood for savory than sweet that night. Our daughter had a scoop of mint ice cream (that was as good as 2 Amy's and that's saying something) with chocolate ribbons. At The Inn, the cheese is served from the back of "Faira", a wheeled cow that must be (somewhat arkwardly) manouevered around the dining room - its cute, kind-of, but let me tell you when you're a 4-year old nearing the end of a 3 hour meal and its an hour after your normal bedtime, it's the coolest thing in the world! I had a nice back and forth with the cheese guy (earning a "you know your cheese" by the end of it all), and ended up picking a Montenbro, a crumbly blue from the Asturias region of Spain, a wonderfully ripe Tallegio, an even more wonderfully ripe Epoisses, a pungent cheese from Switzerland whose name escapes me and an award-winning American cheese that, much to my chagrin, I had never heard of. Now we were really starting to wind down, and Reinhardt Lynch came by and asked if we wanted the doors opening out onto the courtyard to be opened. Again, a great idea for a rapidly tiring 4-year old, and while we enjoyed coffee, tea and cookies, we took turns peering into the courtyards coy-filled ponds with her - several other tables were enjoying their desserts outside. After dinner, we had a quick tour of the kitchen and observed those willing to pony up the addition $300 ($450 on weekends) for the chef's table, exchanged pleasantries with Chef O'Connell (always easy when you have a cute kid), and made our way into the night air for the drive back to DC. Total bill for 4 people, a nice but inexpensive bottle Pinot, and a "kids meal" plus tax and tip was $775. The regular menu is $128 per person, our wine was $60, and our daughters meal was $28 (note that the tasting menu is $168 and the tasting menu with wine pairings is $243!!). We tipped 20% on the total bill including tax because the service was exemplary. Neil is a true professional, always there when we needed him, sensitive to the particular demands of our table, friendly, and good with our daughter. So, was it worth it? I would have to say yes. Its not the kind of place where you should go all the time, and it may not even be the place where you go for groundbreaking cuisine, but for a special occasion, the combination of ambience, service and food is hard to beat. I think they deserve credit for regaining their focus and maintaining a general level of excellence as they enter their 28th year in business. A final note on our superstar daughter. Yes, she's used to being taken out to restaurants, but she excelled herself this time around. By the end of the night, complete strangers were coming up to talk to her, clearly awed but her ability not to ruin their evenings! A final, FINAL note on the one teeny-tiny sour note for the evening. A young female member of staff loudly chastised my wife for reading one of Patrick O'Connells cookbooks that had apparently been already purchased by someone else but left on a table in the common area directly outside the kitchen. Honey, she wasn't trying to steal it, she didn't know it belonged to someone else, and your tone was not appreciated.
  3. I'm intrigued. I would like to organize a small group dinner here in the near future (6-8 people). Let me know if you're interested.
  4. Last week, I went to the Rye Street Tavern, NoHo Hospitality Group's latest foray into Baltimore. It was on a Sunday evening, so we naturally gravitated towards their "Southern Fried Sundays" - a fried chicken dinner, served family style. Keep reading, because I'm going to tell you a little secret about ordering this meal that wouldn't be at all obvious to a first-time diner. and it will make the difference between you "liking it," and "loving it." The cocktails were somewhat expensive, but were well-made and delicious: And a little loaf of cornbread comes out just before everything else arrives: Then, the family-style dinner: Everything about this meal screamed "Repeat!" - everything, that is, except the price: We paid $70 for those two little assemblages of food that you see just above (plus the cornbread). "Geez," I said, "$70, and we got *four* pieces of chicken!" I mean, it was great and everything, but as you can see, there are three starch-heavy items: the cornbread, the biscuits, and the potatoes, and we both paced our dinners so that we finished everything at the same time. We were mildly full, and yes, the richness of the cooking made everything satisfying, but come on! I wanted more chicken, darn it! So, just as we were winding down, our server came up to us, and said, "Would you all care for some more chicken, or side dishes?" "Wat?" Okay, so ... spending my money so you don't have to ... we asked for some more chicken, potatoes, and collards (made with delicious bacon, btw), and got a healthy second portion; the rub is that we had *no idea* it was coming, so we filled up on starch, when we would have really preferred a better balance with another piece of chicken. Remember: Those second portions are coming your way, but not a word was said about them until we had almost finished the meal - if you take *that* into consideration, and use it to your advantage, then $35 is a very fair price for this meal. Also, the restaurant gave us two spice muffins "to have with breakfast the next morning," which is always a nice touch. To Rye Street's full credit, they offered to box up the second helping which we couldn't finish - we felt sheepish about this, since boxing up all-you-can-eat meals is something of a shady practice, but they would hear nothing of it. Keep in mind: I don't know if this is all-you-can-eat; I suspect you get two helpings, and *maybe* a third helping if you really do a number on everything, but I wouldn't count on that. Still, in no way did they seem like they were trying to skimp on things, so this was merely a lack of knowledge on our part - learn from our mistake! Go here on a Sunday night, get this exact same thing, and *remember* that it's essentially all-you-can-eat - I can't guarantee we'd have gotten a third helping, but who knows? There's no need to stuff yourself with carbs, merely so you don't leave hungry. Furthermore, the restaurant, and the grounds it's on (it shares acreage with a distillery) is beautiful - there's even a battleship in the background! And that is damned good fried chicken!
  5. Being new to donrockwell.com I decided to look around and see what I could find about the places in my neighborhood. I was a little surprised that there were not any posts about Sixth Engine even though they've been open for over three years now. Perhaps that's because it wallows in mediocrity. Don't get me wrong, they've always had a consistently good brunch and well cooked burgers. The problem for me is that much of the rest of the menu has always been a little 'heavy handed' when it comes to ingredients and sauces. Thankfully, the chef who opened the place, Paul Madrid, has left and things are starting to get better. Additions like the arugula salad and roasted cauliflower with "Ling Sauce", which is very much a sweeter General Tso's sauce, have injected life back into the menu. Hopefully they will continue down this path. The bar program, on the other hand, came flying out of the gate and hasn't lost its momentum. Draft beers rotate regularly to highlight the best of the season and the bartenders take pride in not only making the drinks, but also the ingredients, creating custom shrubs and tonics to use in their creations. While I realize the latter can be found at craft cocktail bars all over the city, it's surprising to find in a place that has the vibe of a glorified TGI Fridays. The layout is more on par with the food than the bar program. Do not go there if you're looking for a quiet evening. The bar bleeds into the downstairs dining area and with TVs in both, it can quickly become a situation where you have to yell at the person across the table from you in order for them to hear you easily. The beautiful upstairs dining room has exposed brick walls and hardwood floors that echo all of the activity in the kitchen that adjoins it. Surprisingly the outdoor patio is the least noisy of the three even with the traffic on Mass Ave just a few feet away. There are a plethora of tables and the service is good. The sun us really the only enemy. During happy hour you're fine and in the shade while the sun scorches Philos' patio across the street. During brunch though you are in the sun's crosshairs and it will roast you at your table even with umbrellas in place to help prevent that. At the end of the day Sixth Engine is a nice place to get a drink and maybe have something to eat if it speaks to you. Otherwise, have a few drinks and walk around the corner to Wise Guy Pizza and score a slice of pie.
  6. Looks like a new cocktail bar coming from Jose Andres. Intrigued, but not if it is in the price range of minibar. https://vimeo.com/58931696
  7. I used to joke around with brian about the Third Church of Christ, Scientist: and Brutalist architecture in general, saying how ugly it all was. He had sometimes written about this church, and I was giving him what was intended to be a good-natured ribbing. And yes, I *do* think it's ugly - in fact, it's an absolute eyesore; on the other hand, Brian is an expert at architecture, and I am nothing but a curious layman whose knowledge is barely above zero. When we first began talking about it, I remember that I was surprised to find out it was designed by I.M. Pei (who I suspect is taken seriously by real architects, but also becomes annoying since he's one of about five names (along with Frank Lloyd Wright) that people like me mention, because we don't know enough to mention any others). And then, I remember driving by it one day about a year ago, and seeing this: and, out of the blue, I became extremely sad - I wasn't even sure why. I've since looked into the building, and realize that it was considered by many respected architects to be - not an eyesore, but an important work. Yet, the businessmen and the bureaucrats apparently didn't listen to the architects and historians, and sacrificed this building forever in order to become another generic, glass-windowed office building. Shifting to something I have more expertise in (classical music), whether or not a piece is "pretty" or "beautiful" is of little importance to me in terms of assessing its value. I can't even begin to list the masterpieces which, to an untrained ear, might sound "ugly," "like noise," or "just plain boring," and yet, these pieces are not only appreciated, but positively cherished by me and most people with a music education. Example (*): I don't know the back story behind the church's demolition, but the thought of brain-dead government officials ignoring experts in order to pander to the masses makes me want to evolve towards Fascism. If this building was a masterpiece, even if I can't see it, then damn it, it's a masterpiece, and it's up to me to bring myself up to speed so that I can recognize it as such. What other works of importance are going to be sacrificed for the almighty dollar, and because the public wants something "inoffensive to the eye?" I may not be sophisticated enough to know that this was an important building, but I'm wise enough to recognize that experts, who know a whole lot more than I do, think that it was. If I were in a position of power, I would listen to what they had to say, public opinion be damned. (*) [Emphasis mine] "Early in 1943, I received the score of the Seventh Sonata, which I found fascinating and which I learned in just four days (**).... The work was a huge success. The audience clearly grasped the spirit of the work, which reflected their innermost feelings and concerns. (This was also felt to be the case with Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony, which dates from more or less the same period.)... With this work we are brutally plunged into the anxiously threatening atmosphere of a world that has lost its balance. Chaos and uncertainty reign. We see murderous forces ahead. But this does not mean that what we lived by before thereby ceases to exist. We continue to feel and love. Now the full range of human emotions bursts forth. Together with our fellow men and women, we raise a voice in protest and share the common grief. We sweep everything before us, borne along by the will for victory. In the tremendous struggle that this involves, we find the strength to affirm the irrepressible life-force." -- Sviatislov Richter (**)
  8. "How Japan's Skyscrapers Are Built To Withstand Earthquakes" by Martha Henriques on bbc.com This is an interesting, ten-part slideshow that explains energy-dampening features in Japanese skyscrapers, including the world's second-tallest structure, the Tokyo Skytree.
  9. Spark is a restaurant located on the border of NE and NW DC. I don't know what neighborhood it's in, but it's in a gentrifying neighborhood. You have to hunt for street parking, which was plentiful at least in the morning, before the restaurant opened at 11 a.m. I ordered some jerk brisket ($17) and some smoked bone marrow ($16). I'm not sure how the brisket was "jerked," but it was moist and well seasoned (but definitely not spicy-hot). It's a change of pace from Texas BBQ brisket (but not a superior product to Hill Country/Texas Jack). I don't know why I keep ordering bone marrow. I've never been a fan of bone marrow, and I don't need the fat (it is 84% fat). In this case, an order consists of 3 halves of bones and 3 pieces of grilled bread. Something to cut through the fat probably would've helped. I should've ordered some fried bread instead. And I wish they have salt fish.
  10. Anyone been yet? I know they are only open for lunch so far, but the initial buzz seems quite good. I was never in doubt of course, but I think this could be something really special. We have ressies for the middle of next month for dinner, so I will be sure to report back but just curious to see if anyone has been there yet. Also....thoughts on parking? Mirabelle
  11. A couple of weeks ago a friend and I walked up on a Friday in the hopes that we could snag a seat at Brother's and Sister's. As we walked up the front steps, we were "greeted" by two large bouncers, who when we told them we didn't have a reservation, boxed us out, and wouldn't let us even move further up the steps of the property and told us to leave. I guess a 40 year old lawyer is very scary looking and not the demographic they were going for. It was very off putting, I don't really know what the purpose was of the treatment, perhaps, they could have just told us they were fully booked and we should try for another night. I know it was Friday, soon after opening, but it was a pretty rude treatment.
  12. I wound up running late for my 7:30 curtain last night (tenor Ian Bostridge, program of Schubert Lieder, for the curious ) and left my ticket at home requiring a trip to the box office to get a replacement. So, rather than try Notte Bianchi as planned I risked a meal at the bar at the Roof Terrace Restaurant. The two appetizers, while edible, were among the most haphazardly plated offerings I have ever had set in front of me and very poor value for the prices they are charging. The Roof Terrace year after year tries to present itself as a convenient fine dining destination. It's convenient if it's right before curtain and you have no other options, but that is the best that can be said of it. Baby beet salad arrived as a tangle of frisee next to chunks of quartered beets and a small wedge of nearly flavorless goat cheese. Beets and frisee were underdressed with a lackluster vinaigrette, and sprinkled with a few chives that added color rather than herbal sharpness. $12.00. When I compare it to the beet salad at Corduroy it makes me want to cry. Smoked Salmon with caper mayonnaise Four slices of smoked salmon, baby romaine dressed with not quite enough vinaigrette, and a blob of caper mayonnaise, slapped on a plate. $14.00. I have had better, tastier smoked salmon at Bagel City. The bread was spongy and full of sunflower and flax seeds and the unsalted butter was the right temperature but also flavorless - a theme for the whole meal. I drank a half bottle of Latour Puligny-Montrachet. Total bill $80 including tip. A ripoff, especially with far superior food two blocks away. Edit: Wrong forum. Could someone move this? Thanks.
  13. What is the story behind reservations at this restaurant? Phenomenal popularity? A secret? For the next month, they show availability for only a handful of weekdays, for seatings near closing time. I have encountered a similar roadblock at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, though at the opening bell it is not that difficult to find something in the bar area. It's discouraging, though. (And making the journey to Spike Gjerde's award-winning kitchen is expensive and not always quite as transporting as it used to be.)
  14. Congratulations to Brothers and Sisters (but everyone knows lists like these are a load of baloney, right?)
  15. We met friends at 71Above for drinks and some appetizers. We had to leave for a show so we did not stay for dinner (although our friends did). We sat at the bar and one among us took charge and ordered the appetizers and while they were uniformly good, I spent way to much time talking rather than focusing on the food so I cannot offer much more in the way of a commentary. But what I can report is.... Man, what a view!
  16. Cedar Knoll is a little place on the George Washington/Mt Vernon Parkway just a mile or so from Mt. Vernon with a wonderful view of the river. It's famous for being awful regarding everything but the view. The place closed in November to absolutely no fanfare (the Cityzen closure it wasn't!) Anyhow, there was an article in this week's Mt. Vernon Gazette about their plans to reopen in the spring. It's light on details about the new place other than they are remodeling the inside. Hopefully they'll upgrade the food because this place is a goldmine waiting to happen. "Cedar Knoll Inn To Reopen In Mount Vernon" by Jerry FIll on mountvernongazette.com A couple excerpts: However, according to Gant Redmon, attorney /advisor for the owners, it will reopen sometime this spring after a new restaurant lease is signed and renovations are completed. ~~~ According to Redmon the owners are not allowed to enlarge the building, add rooms or add "wings." Also, the second floor can only be used for office space, and not to serve food to guests. Redmon said the community may not be aware that historically at one time it was used as a "Tea Room" which, at the time, presented a dilemma for the county planners. ~~~ "Our current plan is that once a new restaurant operator is selected and renovation plans are agreed to, we will work closely with county officials to turn this into a beautiful facility that will serve quality food for individual diners as well as continue to offer it as a facility to host weddings, community, and business meetings,......
  17. Location and Rates for Tonight - Website with Best-Rate Guarantee Just had drinks in the Library Bar in Los Angeles. Playing some nice 60’s soul. Did not eat. Bestia later.
  18. Location and Rates for Tonight - Website with Best-Rate Guarantee The NoMad Hotel - culinarily known for its affiliation with Daniel Humm's Make It Nice Group (the hotel contains The NoMad Restaurant, and is near Eleven Madison Park) - has opened a second location in Los Angeles.
  19. I was just there for lunch today for the first time in about three years - excellent tomato soup and very good cobb salad, spinach salad and lobster pasta were had by all. With my less-adventurous mother in town for the holidays, we had considered Lightfoot for dinner earlier in the week, but I thought the dinner menu seemed a little expensive and leaning more towards the "meat/sauce/starch/vegetable" format. But there were few items on the munch menu that didn't intrigue me and the costs were much more in line with what I would expect from a place like this in a town like Leesburg.
  20. DonRocks

    Architecture

    There are numerous things in this world that I *love*, but just don't know enough about to satisfy my insatiable curiosity - the amazing field of Architecture is one of them. This thread could just as easily go in the History Forum, or the Science Forum - undoubtedly, one day it will be a forum of its own. Two books have been sitting in my basement, virtually untouched, and right now they're sitting beside me: "City of Trees" by Melanie Choukas-Bradley, illustrated by Polly Alexander "AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC" Although the former is only tangentially related to architecture, my knowledge of the subject is so limited that I don't even know if the latter is considered to be a decent reference. What it seems to be is a nice little walking tour, which is kind of what I want. Nevertheless, one of my "projects" has been to really learn about DC's architecture and flora, using the AIA Guide (or some suitable substitute) as my starting point. This thread - which I hope will generate enough posts to one day become a stand-alone forum - is for "Architecture In General," and anything specific can certainly merit its own topic - the closest thing we have right now is a thread on Metro's Silver Line (is that even considered Architecture?) At Clemson University (where I went for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees), the Architecture building was fondly (and not-so-fondly) nicknamed "The Land Of The Midnight Sun" because the Architecture majors had to put in such long hours. Everyone had a genuine respect for them - I know I did. I love architecture, consider it an incredibly underrated and unappreciated use of funds, and am hoping to learn enough about it where I can call myself something more than a layman. Right now, I can distinguish between Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns, and that's about it (my little "cheat" has been: Doric is so simple that it could have been designed by a Dork, Ionic is more elaborate, like something you'd see in the Ionosphere, and Corinthian is so fancy that it conjures up images of Ricardo Montalban and "soft Coreentheean leather" - I've often wondered if he was ashamed of doing these commercials.)
  21. The Hersch

    Bridges

    You didn't ask me, but I'm a total bridge freak and will attempt a simple explanation (I'm further from being an engineer of any kind than from any other profession, and simple is all I can do). In a suspension bridge, the main cables are strung between two towers, and smaller cables (sometimes called "hangers") run vertically from the main cables to the bridge deck, holding it up. In a cable-stayed bridge, cables are run directly from the towers to the bridge deck. The Brooklyn Bridge employs both kind of cabling, as you can see here: Among the best-known pure suspension bridges is the main section of the Golden Gate Bridge, the form of which is shown here: Probably the most breath-taking cable-stayed bridge is the Millau Viaduct in France, which opened in 2004: It's the tallest bridge ever built, its tallest mast being approximately twice the height of the Washington Monument. I'm hoping to go an a bridge tour one day, and visit this and some other remarkable bridges I've never seen.
  22. Everyone knows that the height of Washington, DC buildings is restricted, and many people mistakenly think the law says that buildings can be no higher than the Capitol Dome, which is a myth. In 1910, the Federal Government passed the Height of Buildings Act of 1910 which amended the Height of Buildings Act of 1899. See? You just learned something - there were two of them! After you read this post, you'll get the greatest benefit if you read the Wikipedia article about 1899 first (which includes a section about the Capitol Dome myth), and then the one about 1910 next. The 1899 law limited height to between 60 and 130 feet, and if you read the fascinating article (and the Act itself), it seems to make reasonable sense. Architecture aside, I can see a legitimate fear about fires breaking out many stories above the ground (don't forget - we had no motor-powered firetrucks, and certainly no high-tech hook-and-ladder vehicles, in 1899). Interestingly, an impetus for the 1899 Act was The Cairo apartment building in North Dupont. Built in 1894, it was the tallest building in the entire city at 14 stories (164 feet), and to this very day, it remains DC's tallest residential building. Most of the material was covered by the 1899 Act (which is why you should read it first), and the 1910 Act served largely to "make minor modifications and tighten it up," and that 1910 Act is still the law today. Here is the current law, as of Mar 11, 2016, in my everyday, "roadside prose," as Vladimir Nabokov would say: * No building can be taller than the width of the street in front of it plus twenty feet. For example, if the street directly in front of a building is 40 feet from-curb-to-curb, the building can only be 60-feet tall. * No building can be taller than 130 feet, with one exception: on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue between 1st and 15th Streets NW (the parade route), a building can be 160-feet tall. * On a residential street, no building can be taller than 90 feet. * On a corner lot, the wider of the two streets is used as the basis for calculation. * On blocks adjacent to public buildings (e.g., schools), the maximum height is to be determined by a schedule written by the DC Council. * Next to the front of Union Station (the plaza), all buildings must be fireproof and cannot be taller than 80 feet. * Section 5, Paragraph h, is extremely long, but basically says that things like spires, towers, steeples, chimneys, smokestacks, etc. are exempt (this is an extreme simplification). If you're familiar with these seven bullet-points, you know the law better than 99.9% of the DC population. If anyone cares to discuss this further so that we can hit 99.999%, that's okay by me. The Tallest Buildings in Washington, DC 1. The Hughes Memorial Tower (1989, 761 feet) in Brightwood is the tallest structure in the Baltimore-DC metropolitan area (note the last bullet point above - it's exempt). 2. The Washington Monument (1848-1888, 555 feet) was grandfathered in, as were several other buildings and structures. 3. * The Basilica of the Natural Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (1920-1959, 329 feet) is one of the ten largest churches in the world, and the tallest habitable building in DC - it was granted an exemption). 4. * The Old Post Office Building (1892-1899, 315 feet) is being leased to The Trump Organization - there is a great deal of complexity to this lease, so bone up before chiming in, please. 5. The National Cathedral (1907-1990, 301 feet) is the second-largest church in the U.S. after The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. 6. * The United States Capitol (1793-1863, 289 feet) is under a major, three-year, external restoration project, and will have scaffolding around the dome until early 2017. 7. One Franklin Square (1989, 210 feet) is the tallest commercial building in DC, and is now home to The Washington Post - I'm curious why (and how) this building got an exemption. * These three buildings have the distinction of being the only buildings to claim that they are (were) "the tallest buildings in Washington, DC." I don't understand how the Basilica is "one of the ten largest churches in the world," but the Cathedral is the "second-largest church in the U.S." Here's a list of the Largest Church Buildings in the World - it looks like the claim about the Basilica could be referring to the exterior, which would make everything consistent. Note also the incredible discrepancy between exterior and interior of The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Ivory Coast. It's extremely thought-provoking that a "times-have-changed" mentality can easily be envisioned (and justified) while reading about these two Acts; yet, they were both passed over 100 years *after* the 2nd Amendment became law. No, this post was not some grand, manipulative build-up to ram a private political agenda down your throats; this one, largely unrelated item is merely an interesting point to ponder in its own right. I am also going on-record, right here, right now, and predicting that the Height of Buildings Act of 1910 will be overturned within the next fifty years, and that height restrictions will be greatly lifted, if not essentially removed altogether. Washington, DC, circa 2300 - if it's not a pile of rubble - is going to look a lot like Manhattan. And I think it's *so cool* that someone is going to look back and examine this statement in 284 years. "What the hell does 'so cool' mean?" they'll ask.
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