• Tidal Basin pedal boats, 1501 Maine Ave.
S.W., (202) 479-2426. Boats rented daily 10 a.m. to 5:30
• Thomas Jefferson Memorial, 14th Street and
East Basin Drive S.W., (202) 426-6841
• Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, West
Basin Drive S.W., (202) 426-6841
Fischer, Washington Sidewalk
regard the trail around the Tidal Basin as a good workout,
but the 1.8-mile circuit also has appeal to history buffs,
horticulturists and pedal pushers.
Starting on Independence Avenue behind the polo grounds and
heading clockwise, you quickly come upon the 17th-century
granite Japanese lantern presented to the city in
1958 to commemorate Commodore Matthew Perry's cruise to
Japan a century earlier. The lantern is lighted to kick off
the Cherry Blossom Festival in late March – whether or not
the blossoms show.
Kutz Memorial Bridge crosses over the Tidal
Basin's northern tip. The bridge is named after D.C.
commissioner Brig. Gen. George Kutz but is most renowned as
the place where the stripper Fanne Foxe, House Ways and
Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills' illicit companion,
began her midnight swim.
Just east of the bridge is the National Park Service's Annual
Library (above), consisting of 95 flower beds and
a box containing, if you're lucky, diagrams to tell you
what's in all of them.
on and you can hire a pedal boat – two-passenger
boats are $7 an hour, four-passenger boats $14 an hour –
for leg-powered excursions around the historic pond (left).
The Tidal Basin was constructed by the Army Corps of
Engineers in 1897 to make sure that boats in Washington
Channel always had plenty of water. Between 1917 and 1925
the Tidal Basin had a popular (whites-only) beach with a
bathhouse and a floating diving platform.
Cross the bridge over the channel linking the Tidal Basin
and Washington Channel – make a side trip under the
viaduct to the open-air fish market – to reach the Thomas
Jefferson Memorial. While the building is part of the
capital skyline by now, its construction in the 1930s was
opposed by those displeased by its classic Roman design and
tree-huggers who chained themselves to the cherry trees the
memorial would displace. These days the memorial is again a
work in progress, with restrooms, a bookshop (serious stuff
only) and a gift shop (tourist tchotchkes and T-shirts)
temporarily housed in trailers out back.
When you cross Inlet Bridge over the channel linking
the Tidal Basin to the Potomac, take a gander at the
ironwork face of a man on the body of a fish in two dry
fountains embedded into posts on the east side of the
walkway. Who is it? Probably Jack Fish, a former National
Park Service Capital Region director, but nobody knows for
but most popular in D.C. (with more than 3 million visitors
since it opened in May 1997, according to the National Park
Service) is the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
(left). Those old enough to remember Franklin and Eleanor
appreciate the human-scale warmth of the statues and the
snippets of inspirational oratory. Those old enough to
remember Bert and Ernie appreciate the pools and waterfalls
that welcome waders on hot summer days.
About the only negative at the Tidal Basin is the dearth of
food options. Guest Services operates concession stands at
the Jefferson Memorial, beside the pedal-boat marina and
across Independence Avenue near the Lincoln Memorial
and Korean War Veterans Memorial, but you can't get
so much as a crumb at the Roosevelt Memorial. Guest Services
facilities are more remarkable for their peculiar prices –
quarter-pound jumbo hot dog, $2.82; turkey and Swiss on
Kaiser, $4.01; bagel and cream cheese, $1.77 – than their
outstanding food. And forget straws "because they are a
litter problem." A tip for polo watchers and Tidal
Basin circumnavigators: BYO picnic.
Sunday polo beside the Tidal