Things People Get Wrong About Washington, DC (and Photos!)

Washington Monument covered in scaffolding

Washington, DC, turns up in a lot of books and TV shows.

We can see stock shots on NCIS, Covert Affairs, and Bones.  None of the shows are filmed here.   There are some books where I’ve wonder if the author at least Googled the city because of the things they do get wrong. The three biggest culprits:

Thinking it’s all about politics

Granted, if you read the Washington Post or Washington Times, you would think that DC is all about politics.  There isn’t a major newspaper in the area that reports on local news.  But a lot of books and movies and TV are guilty of thinking DC is only politics.

It’s a city that has a lot of problems with money. In the past, the schools have been shut down by the courts because the city could not afford to fix safety hazards.  More recent news has the fire departments keeping their trucks that need repair because they come back in worse shape when they are repaired.

Then there’s the exploding manhole covers

But it’s also a city with a very visible disability population, because the Federal government is the largest employer of the disabled and actively recruits for it.  It’s common to go into a mall or a Starbucks and see a person with a service animal or with a cane or a wheelchair.

There’s also a lot of military.  You will see them on the Metro, walking the street, eating in Burger King.  I’ve even seen foreign military.

Washington DC has a large food community.  Because there are so many different cultures in the area, there’s a wide variety of different cuisines.  Chefs are always opening new restaurants or experimenting with ways to serve the food.

Then there’s the history … Really, I could go on and on.  There’s a lot here that never gets touched in most fiction.

Inside Ford's Theatre, showing where Lincoln's seaty was and the stage
Ford’s Theatre. I kept hearing that Booth leapt off the balcony and landed on the stage and couldn’t picture it until I saw it.

Getting the traffic wrong

Let’s start with the traffic here is bad.  And it gets worse when it rains or snows, when the President’s motorcade departs or returns, or when an event happens, such as when the cherry blossoms bloom.

Traffic is so bad in this area, we actually have an advice columnist on it.

Yet, books and TV portray us as having no traffic.  No one driving around discusses leaving a different time to avoid rush hour, or gets caught in traffic (except for NCIS).  In one book, a high speed chase took place on 17th Street.  My first reaction: Have you been on 17th Street?!

Pink Cherry Blossoms with the sunlight shining through
Cherry Blossoms on the tidal basin.

Call Metro a Subway

Yes, we do have an underground train system.  Technically, it’s a subway. No one here calls it a subway.

It’s the Metro.

NCIS is the only TV show to have gotten this one right.  They’ve even shown the map of the Metro system.

Have you been to DC?  What did you think of it?

And check out these other posts!

3 thoughts on “Things People Get Wrong About Washington, DC (and Photos!)

  1. I loved this post, I miss DC. My husband still wants to live in one of the high rises near the zoo someday, so he can hear wild animals in the morning… nice thought if he ever woke early LOL. I lived and worked there for 15 yrs, miss it so much, your post brought back many wonderful memories.


    1. Thank you, Christine. DC has been revisiting the law about how tall buildings can go, so it’s possible the city skyline may change in the future (or not).


  2. Pingback: Photos: Art Along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk | Linda Adams

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