Tuesday, August 24, 2010
August 19, 2010: Washington - Ford's Theatre, Dinner at Dino
Today I went downtown to Ford's Theatre, where there was a museum about the events leading up to Lincoln's assassination there. On display was the gun that John Wilkes Booth used to shoot him - it was floating in the middle of a lit case in a dark alcove, with the title "The Gun That Killed Abraham Lincoln" inscribed at the base. It seemed strangely venerated, with its dramatic lighting and titling.
The tour upstairs was somewhat limited - we really only got to go into the theatre, sit down, and listen to a recounting of the assassination by a Park Ranger. But it was nicely restored, and since I came up a bit later I was seated in the balcony, with a good view of the box that Lincoln was sitting in.
It's clear from all the evidence that John Wilkes Booth wanted to make a scene, and must have fully expected that he would be caught. He was a well-known actor at that theatre, so many in the audience thought it was part of the play when he jumped out of the president's box onto the stage after the shooting. I have to wonder if all the other people involved in the conspiracy (there were plans to kidnap/kill several other prominent figures) realized what a show Booth was going to put on - it would inevitably lead to the rest of them being found out.
Across the street is the small townhouse to which Lincoln was carried and in which he died the next morning - April 15, 1865 (how, in all my reading about Lincoln in the many exhibits about him in Washington, had I failed to notice until now that he died on April 15, which is my birthday?). There's a prominent sign at the entryway prohibiting firearms, which seems a bit ironic. There wasn't much to see inside (it's a small house), but there was a sign pointing out the original bedding, which showed dried stains of his blood (pretty faded by now).
For dinner we went up the street to Dino. We had heard good things about this Italian restaurant from Mark's co-workers, and it was DC Restaurant Week, in which Dino has a reputation for putting on extra niceties for all who attend (like good discounts on wine, extra free appetizers, etc). It was a good meal, but not as exciting as Ripple - the ingredients were good even if their preparation not the most imaginative (although prosciutto wrapped around peaches was great) and the service was a bit perfunctory. But it would be a bit obsessive if we only kept going back to Ripple every time we ate out, so I'm glad we tried something new.
Photos: the infamous gun; the signage about the gun, and the replica lead shot; the president's theatre box; the house across the street where Lincoln died (complete with 'no firearms' signage); the room where Lincoln died (and where it was finally impressed upon me that he died April 15, same day as my birthday)