Today is Independence Day in America, meaning it’s been 236 years since this country decided to, well, to be a country, and at the same time totally piss off the Kingdom of Great Britain.
A couple of days ago was when I left Washington DC after a week long visit. I was particularly happy to see an American flag just before I crossed over into Arlington, Virginia.
Rather than think and navigate for myself, I decided to roll the dice, enter my destination on my phone, and obediently do whatever the lady’s voice told me to do. There are several efficient or interesting ways to get out of DC when starting out from the Mount Pleasant neighborhood — using scenic Rock Creek Park, for example. Instead, I was directed to drive right through the heart of Georgetown.
As I inched in traffic along M St., I realized that my phone would be guiding me right past Francis Scott Key Park. I’ve always wanted to visit this park!
Regular readers may recall how I used this past Memorial Day as an excuse to brain-dump nearly everything I know about Francis Scott Key while forcing an analogy between bike advocacy and The War of 1812’s Battle of Baltimore.
For those of you who were deprived of a primary education in an American school: Francis Scott Key was a slave-owning lawyer and amateur poet who became famous for writing a patriotic poem (probably to keep himself from wetting his own pants) during the Battle of Baltimore. When set to a borrowed melody, his poem became a hit song, and ultimately became the National Anthem of The United States of America. Key is the ultimate one-hit wonder.
Key’s House: A Casualty of Cars
Key owned a stone house in Georgetown not far from where the park is now. Key died in 1843, and about 100 years later the house was demolished “after years of neglect by various owners.”
The stone foundation of Francis Scott Key Park is made from the rubble that could be recovered after the house was demolished and then moved to this location.
In 1913 the house had a big facelift and partial destruction which completely changed it’s appearance and purpose — from a residence into a commercial building. By the time anyone thought to try to restore the house, in 1933, it was deemed “too far gone” — and besides it was in the way of road construction. The north end of Key Bridge (also named for Francis Scott Key) is right next to the park.
Just before it was demolished for good, Key’s mangled house had been a used car dealership.
Today there are five bike shops within a mile of Key Park — including two which are directly across M St. from the park. (One of those two across the street is Revolution Cycles, the employer or our writer, Stacey Moses.)
The nearest car dealer is more than two miles away.
I love America.