Featured Photo

The Pillars @ The National Arboretum by citron_smurf.

When I traveled to Rome a few years ago, I was awestruck by the ancient ruins that are scattered throughout the modern city.  “Oh look, there’s a quaint little restaurant, a place to rent scooters, aaaand some excavated pillars that date back to several hundred years before Christ?”  Neato.

You don’t see that much, if at all, here in the United States.  It’s more like, “Oh look, there’s a California Pizza Kitchen, a Starbucks, aaaand a big hole in the ground where an office building from the 1970′s used to be.”  Lame.

If you want to imagine what it’s like in Rome, just head out to the National Arboretum to check out the National Capitol Columns:

The columns began their life on the East Portico of the Capitol in 1828.  They were quarried from sandstone near Aquia Creek in Virginia and were barged to Washington in the early days of our country, before the familiar Capitol dome was completed.  Their stay at the Capitol was to be limited by an oversight.  The dome of the Capitol, completed in 1864, appeared as if it was not adequately supported by the columns because the iron dome that was ultimately built was significantly larger than the dome that the designer envisioned.  An addition to the east side of the Capitol was proposed to eliminate this unsettling illusion, but it was not constructed until 1958.

More time would pass before the columns would come to their final resting place.  It was not until the 1980s that Arboretum benefactor Ethel Garrett took up the cause of establishing a permanent home for them.

Russell Page, a close friend of Garrett’s, and landscape designer visited the Arboretum in September 1984, only months before his death.  He found the perfect site for them on the east side of the Ellipse where the grandeur of the columns would be in scale with the more than 20 acres of open meadow, a rarity in a built up city like Washington.  The columns are set on a foundation of stones from the steps that were on the east side of the Capitol.   Old identification marks from the quarry are still visible on some of the stones.

I love the dark black and white tones of this week’s featured photo, and the ominous clouds darken the mood even more.  The beauty of photographing these columns is that there are many different angles from which to shoot them from, and nothing to obstruct your view aside from the occasional tourist or two.  Like The Awakening statue, this is a DC sight that you should definitely pay a visit to.

Hailing from the Mile High City, Max has also lived in Tinsel Town, the Emerald City, as well as the City of Brotherly Love. Now a District resident, he likes to write about cool photos by local photographers, the DC restaurant and bar scene, or anything else that pops into his mind.

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