Saturday, October 16, 2010

D.C. After Dark

Magnet # 369:  Washington D.C. Landmarks by Night Photo Collage

Material:  PVC

Purchased By:  Me

Even though millions of tourists flood into our nation's capitol, Washington D.C., every year to take in some of the most historic and significant places we have to offer, many of them are unaware that there may be much more going on there than they're able to experience.  Once the sun goes down, its streets can be somewhat frightening, and not just due to the unusually high crime rate there.  D.C. is actually reputed to be one of the most haunted spots on Earth.  It's experienced assassinations, corruption, war, and tragedy over the years and some of the suffering and loss that has gone on there may have left their mark on this otherwise proud spot.

The Capitol Building is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks, and it's also supposed to be the site of some creepy activity.  When it was under construction, one of the workers fell from scaffolding while working on the rotunda to his death.  People now claim to see his spirit floating high above their heads, carrying a wooden tool tray.  And at the other end of the building, the Demon Cat is said to stalk the underground crypt.  Some who have spotted it hold that at first, it seems to be a normal black cat, but as it approaches them, it grows larger and larger into a menacing, snarling, horrible beast.  The figure will leap at its onlooker, only to vanish before it actually makes contact.  It's also said to be a harbinger of doom, appearing before times of tragedy and assassinations, and occasionally great change.  There are those who hold that it stalked the grounds before the market crash of the 1920s and before John F. Kennedy's assassination. Apparently, the Demon Cat only comes out at night and when its viewer is alone, so I guess tourists pretty much have no chance of ever seeing it.  But there are plenty more ghosts scattered throughout the rest of the building. President John Quincy Adams later became a member of the United States House of Representative, was there when a vote was there when a vote was being taken to honor US Army members who fought in the Mexican-American War.  As the rest of his fellow members responded with 'ayes,' she shouted out 'no,' only to suffer from a cerebral hemorrhage.  He died two days later in the Speaker's Room of the Capitol Building, and since then, his ghost has supposedly been seen and heard there.  So has James Garfield, the President who was assassinated after only 200 days in office.  His killer has also been seen by some on the stairs, even though that was not where he shot Garfield.  The ghost of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, who was hired to design Washington D.C. but was never paid what he was promised, has also reportedly been spotted there, carrying papers and looking upset, most likely over his financial woes.  The spirits of workers are also said to be roaming through the halls, including a librarian who searches for a considerable sum of money he hid away in a book, another who stamps books and papers, and a custodian who died while he was at work.  Some have claimed to see a mop gliding across the floors, not held by anyone, and think that he is responsible for it.  It certainly seems that the Capitol Building is one of the most spiritually active spots in the city, but there is another that is considered to be even more haunted - the White House.

The specter of Abraham Lincoln is still said to walk the halls of the home in which he led the country through one of its most difficult times.  Calvin Coolidge's wife Grace is the first to have claimed to actually see his ghost, standing at the window of the Oval Office with his hands clasped behind his back, looking out toward the Potomac.  Presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Harry Truman have all said they've heard unexplainable knocks on their bedroom doors.  But Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands also heard the knocking when she was staying in the Rose Room, or Queen's Bedroom, and was unfortunate enough to supposedly find Lincoln himself standing there when she opened the door, wearing his iconic top hat.  She fainted on the spot, and when she awoke, he was gone.  And when Winston Churchill was spending the night in the Lincoln Bedroom, he claims to have stepped out of the tub, still undressed, and walk into the room, only to see Lincoln standing by the fireplace.  He was able to remark "Good evening, Mr. President.  You seem to have me at a disadvantage" before the seemingly embarrassed ghost vanished.  And many more have reportedly felt Lincoln's presence throughout the residence, including Dwight Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ladybird Johnson, and Eleanor Roosevelt.  But Lincoln is hardly the only ghost that has been said to be lurking in these hallowed halls.  The Rose Room is also said to be haunted by Andrew Jackson, where a canopy bed that is believed to have belonged to him stands. True to his nature, many have heard him cussing up a storm there.  They have also heard him laughing and felt cold spots.  Some have also claimed that the ghost of William Henry Harrison, who held the office of President for only a month, the shortest time ever, in the attic.  There, he rummages about, through no one knows what he is in search of, plenty have claimed to hear him up there.  And Abigail Adams, wife of the second President, has supposedly been seen passing through doors.  She also hangs clothes in the East Room as she did in life, and some have held that they've smelled the scent of dam clothes and soap there.  Another former First Lady, Dolley Madison, is said to have returned when Woodrow Wilson's wife ordered her beloved Rose Garden dug up.  Her presence blocked workers from destroying the garden she had planted all those years ago, and it has been left alone ever since.  Some have also claimed to hear the cries of Grover Cleveland's wife, Frances.  She was the first wife of the President to give birth at the White House.  Also, Willie Lincoln, beloved son of the President who died at the White House when he was only 11 years old, has been spotted there ever since, usually in second-floor bedrooms.  His parents used to have seances there in the hopes of connecting with their lost boy.  There are also less-famous spirits said to be haunting the mansion, including the ghost of a British soldier who fought in the War of 1812.  He carries a light torch and one couple claim he tried to set their bed on fire.  The ghost of a woman whose mother was executed for conspiring against Lincoln is said to still bang on doors, begging for her release.  A pair of former employees apparently still turn off lights and open doors.  It's hard to find anyplace in the world that is home to so many spirits of famous figures - perhaps only the Tower of London can give the White House a run for its money.  Unfortunately, for most of us, this place can be visited on a very limited basis - particularly at night.  But I guess that just makes it even more mysterious.

While the Capitol Building and the White House may be two of the most haunted locales in Washington, D.C., they're hardly the only ones.  At Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated, some have reportedly seen his spirit trying to reconcile with that of John Wilkes Booth.  At Fort McNair, where conspirators involved in the crime were hanged, there have also been sightings.  Both the Library of Congress and the National Theatre are said to have their resident ghosts.  Really,  the list of haunted spots goes on and on.  And let's not forget that the steps used in the movie The Exorcist can be seen in Georgetown.  While they're not said to be haunted, they're certainly creepy.  So, travel to this one-of-a-kind city if you have the opportunity.  You can be a patriot by day and a ghost hunter by night!

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