Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nighttime on the basin: We should have biked

CherryBlossomNight.jpg, originally uploaded by whiteknuckled.

The Bride and I went down to the Tidal Basin last night hoping to catch one of the NPS' Japanese lantern walking tours of the basin (not realizing that it wasn't happening). We left a little late, and due to some poor thinking, we ended up driving. I was planning on riding bikes all along once we came home and ate dinner, since we can get there in 15 minutes or so by bike. But the Bride didn't want to bike and I didn't force the we spent 20 minutes sitting on RC Parkway just getting to West Potomac Park.


We agreed that we both felt like schmoes sitting in our car while all the people walked by along the river in the nice weather on foot or with their bikes. So we sat in the car feeling like we were just another one of the carfuls of tourists.

Once we got there, I realized that after dusk ends the light is really and truly gone on the Tidal Basin. They have some lights on trees over by the FDR Memorial, but all the rest are in the dark, just like everything should be when it's...uh....well....dark outside.

So we grabbed a few photos, sat in the grass, walked a bit, and then poked back through the FDR Memorial. I hadn't been through the FDR Memorial since we moved here, although the Bride had seen it on a visit back in 2002, I believe. Let's just say that I think I have a new favorite memorial on the Mall. Part of it may be my extreme soft spot for FDR as a WWII buff—and let's all just admit that the WWII Memorial is a supreme disappointment—but the design of it is really genius.

It's the kind of civic art that I enjoy the most...the kind you get to experience with great thoughts given to how people will circulate, percolate, and experience the shape of the space. So it's no surprise when you consider that it was designed by a man who made his career studying public spaces and how people react within them—with an eye towards the fact that your journey through the memorial is an experience. (This is the reason why the Vietnam Memorial is fantastic, and the WWII Memorial feels like an anchorless slab of concrete where you wander aimlessly.)

Walking through the FDR memorial is like walking through a history book, a poem, and a film all at the same time. The sculptures, especially the one pictured below and the fireside chat sculpture, have the most beautifuul austere vibe about them. Although the action is each one is minimal (or non-existent in the case of the opening wheelchair sculpture), each one is like a painting that you can stand in front of and listen to. (yes i did say listen)

I'll spare you the play-by-play of walking through the whole thing, especially since we experienced it backwards because of how we walked through it, but I think nighttime may be the best time to see it. I'll spare you the obligatory FDR quote to close out this post, and do it with an image.

FDRNight.jpg, originally uploaded by whiteknuckled.