Butif you've been to the "must-see" places that grace all the tourguidebooks and news coverage—or if you'd prefer to avoid them—weoffer a quartet of lesser-known things to see while you're in townfor the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.
Ajazz legend looms large on the side wall of Mood Indigo, a shopspecializing in vintage clothing, shoes and accessories and locatedadjacent to the Green Line Metro station at 13thSt. N.W. and U St. N.W. You'll be visiting the Shaw neighborhood ofWashington, D.C., within the Mount Vernon Square historic district toview the Duke Ellington Mural, and you'll be in an area that hasbeen a hub of African-American cultural life since the late 19thcentury and the neighborhood that is said to have shaped and nurturedhim. Ellington grew up just around the corner on Bates Street andbegan his career in the music halls and clubs that flourished alongnearby 14thStreet in the early 1900s.
Thepainting was completed in 1997 by muralist G. Byron Peck, and isbased on a photo of Ellington on the frontispiece of hisautobiography, Music IsMy Mistress. If you'rea bit hungry after making the trek to see it, stop into Ben's ChiliBowl, a well-known casual eatery that boasts some very late hours andis famous not just for chili (meat and vegetarian) but also chilidogs and seafood.
WorldWar II Memorial
Whilemany people think of the memorial to Vietnam veterans, this morerecent arrival to Washington, D.C., isn't as well known. Located at17thSt., between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, the WorldWar II Memorial honors the 16 million people who served in the armedforces of the U.S. during that conflict, the more than 400,000 whodied in it and all who supported the war effort from home. Thememorial is noted for the fact that the Second World War is the only20th-centuryevent commemorated on the National Mall's central axis.
Thedesign of the memorial features 56 pillars and a pair of archessurrounding a plaza and fountain, and it was built on the former siteof the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool,between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
Onthe west side of the memorial is the Freedom Wall, which has a viewof the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial behind it. Adorning thewall are 4,048 gold stars, each star representing 100 Americans whodied in the war. In front of the wall is the message, "Here we markthe price of freedom."
FranklinDelano Roosevelt Memorial
Theonly U.S. president to serve more than two terms is honored here—aman who was stricken with polio at age 39 and paralyzed from thewaist down, as well as having to lead the nation during the GreatDepression and World War II.
Sculpturesinspired by photographs show the president alongside his dog Fala,and there is also a bronze statue of Eleanor Roosevelt standingbefore the United Nations emblem—reportedly notable as being theonly case of a presidential memorial depicting a first lady—tohonor her dedication to the U.N. Other sculptures depict scenes fromthe Great Depression, such as listening to a fireside chat on theradio and waiting in a bread line.
BecauseRoosevelt himself dealt with a physical disability, the memorial'sdesigners endeavored to create a memorial that would be accessible tovisitors with physical impairments. Among other features, thememorial includes an area with tactile reliefs and Braille writingfor people who are blind, although many criticized that featurebecause the Braille was beyond the reach of even most tall people.Another point of controversy with the memorial was the statue of FDRhimself, because the designers didn't show his wheelchair. Instead,the statue depicts the president in a chair with a cloak obscuringthe chair, the given rationale being that FDR's reliance on awheelchair was not publicized or emphasized during his life, giventhe stigma of weakness and instability associated with any disabilityduring those times.
Thememorial is located at 1850 West Basin Drive S.W.
Wantto catch up on some reading and refreshments? Here at 1517Connecticut Ave. N.W., the vibe, as described once by TheWashington Post, goeslike this: "The action at Kramerbooks & Afterwords starts withbreakfast and the morning papers at 7:30 a.m., and keeps throbbinguntil well after midnight, seven days a week, complete with indoorand sidewalk cafes, a full-service bar and live entertainment. Thesounds are diverting, the smells are delicious, the sights aretempting."
Kramerbooksis a cultural landmark and the NewYork Times writes that"Many people do not consider themselves true Washingtonians untilthey have received a phone call that begins as an invitation fordrinks after work and ends with 'I'll meet you at Kramer's.'Kramerbooks & Afterwords is definitely an institution."
Reportedly,the Afterwords Cafe, which opened in 1976, was the firstbookstore/cafe in the country to feature cappuccino, espresso, a fullbar and food.