D.C. January 06, 2017
These 15 Rare Photos Show Washington DC’s Presidential and Political History Like Never Before
This month, Washington DC gears up for another presidential inauguration and the arrival of another group of newly elected officials and their teams. Washington DC was built to be the federal district and the capital of the United States. Therefore, it has always been the political heart of the country. We are home to the three branches of the federal government and 176 foreign embassies. So while there are many residents here who do not work in politics, it’s hard to ignore the political nature of the district. As a new administration prepares to come to town, let’s take a look back at these Presidential and political photos showcasing the political history of Washington DC.
1) It’s estimated that millions people will come to DC this year for the inauguration. Inauguration Day has taken place on January 20th since 1937.
Prior to 1981, the Inauguration ceremony took place on the Capitol’s East Portico. In this photo, Teddy Roosevelt is sworn in on March 4th, 1905 on the steps of the Capitol.
2) The Inaugural ball is another long-held tradition. Today there are often many inaugural balls held all over DC. In 2009, there were 10 official and 121 unofficial inaugural balls.
The inaugural ball for President Ronald Reagan, pictured here, took place at the National Air and Space Museum in 1985.
3) Political campaigns probably seem like they have become more intense over the past few decades. Perhaps they have but the truth is, that there’s always been intensity over elections.
This political ad from 1888 shows support for Grover Cleveland and A.G Thurmand, the Democratic party nominees in the election.
4) Another part of the politics of DC that has always been present is political commentary.
This cartoon from 1880 is called “The Great Presidential Puzzle.” In it, Senator Roscoe Conkling, the leader of the Republican Party is playing a puzzle game. The blocks of the puzzle are heads of the potential Republican presidential candidates. Feels a bit familiar, doesn’t it?
5) While political cartoons have existed since the 1800s, presidential debates have not. There were face to face debates in the 1800s. In the 1940s there were also some radio debates.
The first official presidential debate was in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The second debate took place in DC on October 7th, 1960.
6) The cabinet members are another long-time part of the political process. Perhaps it wasn’t as closely followed as it is now, but Presidents have always choose their cabinets around the time of their inauguration.
Here’s Woodrow Wilson and his cabinet in 1918.
7) Once the new President is sworn in, the real work can begin. Over the years, DC has been witness to many official duties of Washington presidents. For instance, Presidents have hosted many foreign dignitaries and world leaders here in DC.
Here is President Eisenhower, Mamie Eisenhower and their guests Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the National Presbyterian Church in 1957.
8) Presidents also host cultural leaders, heads of organizations and other innovators.
President Taft hosted Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts at the White House in 1912.
9) There are also the always popular celebrity visits to the White House. Here in a photo called “The President & The King,” Richard Nixon meets with Elvis Presley in 1970.
10) Presidents also make the rounds at local events, including sporting events.
President Truman is photographed here at the old Griffith Stadium watching Washington take on New York in 1948.
11) Presidents keep themselves busy here in DC during their stay from signing important pieces of legislation, such as President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
12) They hold parades and celebrations as when President George H. Bush celebrated the Desert Storm Homecoming Parade in DC in 1991.
13) They meet with their Vice Presidents, as caught in this photo of President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale.
14) And their staff, as you can see here of President John F. Kennedy posing with his White House Staff.
15) And of course, they will always have time to meet with the Press and the White House reporters.
Looking back, it’s incredible how many amazing Presidential and political moments have occurred here in DC. Undoubtedly there were be many more in the future!