Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm
I'm Barbara Klein. Visitors to Washington, D.C., in the summer often want to
stay inside air-conditioned museums. The cooler days of fall are a good time to
explore the outdoors in and around the nation's capital.
in Washington is our subject this week.
Imagine that the calendar says it is fall and you have
just arrived on a visit to Washington. The leaves on many of the trees have
already begun to change color as they prepare to drop to the ground. Soon they
will be gold and orange and red.
summer crowds of visitors have thinned. Children are back in school, parents
are back at work. Points of interest will be easier to photograph. There are
fewer people to walk in front of your camera.
weather should be more cooperative, too. Washington can get very hot and sticky
in summertime. July and August are usually the warmest months. By October, you
may need to wear a light jacket, especially after sunset.
There are tour companies that will take you around the
city. Or you can ride public transportation, or rent a car or take taxis. There
is a plenty you can see just by walking around.
place that might interest world travelers is the area of the city called
Embassy Row. Washington has more than one hundred seventy diplomatic and
consular offices. About one-third of them occupy Embassy Row. This area is
between two streets named for states in New England: Massachusetts Avenue and
embassy usually has two parts. The ambassador lives in the residence while
embassy business takes place in the chancery.
of the finest embassies are along the part of Embassy Row near Dupont Circle.
Six roads come together at the circle. A number of hotels and restaurants are
also in this area.
diplomatic buildings in the capital once were the houses of wealthy Americans.
A building that houses the Embassy of Indonesia, for example, was known for
many years as the Walsh mansion.
Walsh had it built more than one hundred years ago as a home for his family.
The architect designed the mansion similar to a style popular at the time in
Thomas Walsh was born in Ireland. He
came to the United States at the age of nineteen. He made a lot of money in the
state of Colorado. There, he developed and owned one of the richest gold mines
in the world.
Walsh's daughter, Evalyn Walsh McLean, owned the Hope
Diamond. She wore the huge jewel even though she had received warnings that it
caused terrible things to happen. Some people saw proof of that in the fact
that two of her children and her husband died before her.
Many big parties took place among the costly
furnishings of the Walsh mansion. Wealthy and famous people visited the
beautifully lighted house.
was a center of Washington society until the nineteen thirties. The house stood
unoccupied for a while, then government agencies used it for offices.
World War Two, the Red Cross made bandages in the house and also used the space
to treat soldiers wounded overseas.
the nineteen fifties, Ali Sastroamidjojo bought the building for Indonesia. He
served as the country's first ambassador to the United States. About thirty
years later, the old mansion was connected to a modern building that was added.
Today, some people attend Friday prayers at the
Indonesian embassy. The embassy also offers educational courses.
Traveling along Embassy Row, we pass a number of other
embassies. One of the largest is the British Embassy. The grounds include two
chancery buildings and a residence. The ambassador's home looks like an English
the embassy grounds a bronze statue of Winston Churchill welcomes visitors and
people passing by on the street.
Churchill was Britain's prime minister during World War Two. His statue shows
him making a V-for-victory sign with one hand. The other hand holds a cane and
Churchill stands with one foot on
British land at the embassy and the other foot in Washington. This placement
calls attention to the fact that his father was British and his mother was
American. It also calls attention to the honorary United States citizenship
that he was given.
Close to the British Embassy is the
United States Naval Observatory. Astronomers use the observatory to study the
positions and movements of the Earth, sun, moon and other objects in space.
The people who work at the Naval Observatory must also
find time for another responsibility. They keep the Master Clock for the United
see an electronic sign with red numbers near Massachusetts Avenue. The numbers
change by the second. What time is it? Time to continue our tour.
tours of the Naval Observatory are available but they are limited.
are several main buildings on the grounds on the Naval Observatory. One of
these is a big white house. No, not the house where the president lives. This
is the official home of the vice president.
we leave Embassy Row and head for Washington's historic Georgetown neighborhood
along the Potomac River. In Georgetown we stop at a mansion that holds the
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Dumbarton Oaks is another fine
place for an outdoor visit.
In nineteen forty-four, delegates from the United
States, Britain, the Soviet Union and China met at Dumbarton Oaks. World War
Two was nearing its end. The purpose of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference was to
talk about ways to secure a just and lasting peace in the world.
Meetings took place between August and October of
nineteen forty-four. The delegates talked about proposals for an international
organization. Those talks led to the United Nations, which was established in
however, it is not the history but the beauty of the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks
that captures our attention.
gardens offer peace in the middle of a busy city. There are flowers and trees
along with pools and fountains of water. Something always seems to be in bloom
here. Visitors have even seen roses in full flower in December at the start of
Almost all of the sculptures in the garden were made
from limestone from the state of Indiana in the Midwest.
and flowering bushes surround the Ornamental Pool in the gardens. A visitor has
to resist the urge to jump in for a swim.
has many outdoor memorials and monuments around the National Mall area and
throughout the city. But if a road trip out into the country interests you,
then here is an idea.
place to enjoy the beauty of nature in autumn is along Skyline Drive in
Virginia. The road is about one hundred forty kilometers from Washington, on
the other side of the Potomac River. You can rent a car to get there, or go on
a tour bus.
The trees are pretty even if they have not yet reached
their full colors in the fall. Visitors may see deer walking in the road.
Drivers have to be careful not to hit them. There is another reason not to
drive too fast. The road is not very wide.
Drive is in Shenandoah National Park. The park is in the Virginia part of the
Blue Ridge Mountains. In turn, the Blue Ridge Mountains are part of the
Appalachian Mountains. The drive is along the top of the mountains.
Skyline Drive is the only road through Shenandoah. It passes
through about one hundred seven kilometers of the park.
park has about eighty overlooks where you can pull your car off the road and
enjoy a view of nature in all its autumn beauty.
program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Barbara
And I'm Steve Ember. For more programs about American
life, go to voaspecialenglish.com, where you can download transcripts and MP3
files. We will also have links if you would like to take a picture tour of the
gardens at Dumbarton Oaks or see what the Indonesian embassy looks like. And we
hope you can join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special