We’re a-buzz with Lincoln-mania! Here, eight ways to celebrate his life on the 150th anniversary of that fateful night in Ford’s Theatre.
A view of the Lincoln Memorial at dusk.
Abraham Lincoln: that towering, inscrutable figure some of us hopeless history buffs fell for from the moment we first encountered him in all his marble glory on our high school class trips. (Is it any wonder I, to this day, can’t resist a tall man with a beard?) Even after years in Washington, one might never tire of the Lincoln-mania that still occupies our city, 150 years after his assassination at Ford’s Theatre in April 1865. As Washingtonians pause to celebrate his legacy, there are myriad ways to remember him and fall in love all over again. Here are our favorites.
1. Visit Oak Hill Cemetery. This sounds slightly macabre, but this Georgetown historical site was the temporary resting place of Lincoln’s son Willie, who died when the 16th president was still in office, sending the first lady—well-known for her public outbursts—into an emotional meltdown. Daniel Day-Lewis visited Oak Hill in 2011 while preparing for his role in the Steven Spielberg film Lincoln. After Lincoln’s death, Willie’s remains accompanied his father’s on the processional train to Illinois. 3001 R St. NW, 202-337-2835
2. Enjoy a meal at Lincoln. Over the years, chef Demetrio Zavala has included Abe’s favorite dishes at this hot spot, including oysters and chicken fricassee. Local artist Maggie O’Neill (see page 50) designed the space as an homage to Lincoln, from the million pennies used to make the tiled floor to the oversize white chair modeled after the marble one Lincoln sits in at his memorial. And while you’re there, don’t pass up on the infused bourbons served in Mason jars, or the city’s first moonshine served in copper cups. 1110 Vermont Ave. NW, 202-386-9200
3. Watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. You’ve seen the lofty cinematic representations of Lincoln from some of the world’s best actors. Isn’t it time to have a few laughs and maybe a few gasps of horror? I think Abe would have gotten a kick out of this flick, as he had a well-documented sense of humor and a taste for the gothic. Trust me; you’ll never look at Abe the same way again. After some cocktails, you can continue the dark comedy revelry by conducting a séance, a favorite activity of Abe and his missus.
4. Brush up on your Edgar Allan Poe. Another reason to adore Abe is his fabulous taste in literature. Poe was one of his favorite authors, so The Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher are good places to start. Prefer nonfiction? Then you certainly need to get a copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the basis of the 2012 Spielberg film. If reading isn’t your thing, check out a wrestling match, as that was reportedly Lincoln’s favorite sport. Talk about a man of eccentric tastes, huh? All titles available at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-364-1919
5. Visit President Lincoln’s Cottage. This seasonal retreat of the Lincoln family is often overlooked by tourists in favor of the Lincoln Memorial or Ford’s Theatre. But the cottage is a mustmake stop if you prefer to remember Lincoln as he lived and where he spent time with his loved ones, rather than where he died. 140 Rock Creek Church Road NW, 202-829-0436
6. Have brunch at Lincoln’s Waffle Shop. Legend has it that breakfast was Lincoln’s favorite meal, and that he regularly indulged in waffles with eggs and bacon. This Downtown diner has been serving up the best waffles and pancakes for over 20 years. 504 10th St. NW, 202-638-4008
7. Take a Spring stroll through Lincoln Park. Did you know this park on Capitol Hill, financed by newly freed slaves, was the first memorial to Lincoln? East Capitol and 11th Sts. NE, 202-619-7225
8. Explore Abe’s style and his wheels. It turns out ole Abe was a real trendsetter. He was the first president to rock a beard (so hip!), and how could we ever forget the most indelible Abe accessory: the top hat? Lincoln’s fashions are coming out of the closet this spring at Ford’s Theatre, where his coat (Brooks Brothers, by the way), cuff buttons, and the contents of his pockets on the night he was shot are on display in the exhibition “Silent Witnesses: Artifacts of the Lincoln Assassination.” In conjunction with the Ford Theatre’s show, the National Museum of American History will display the carriage that transported Lincoln and his wife to the theater on the night of the shooting. The carriage is normally housed at a museum in South Bend, Indiana, and has only been loaned out twice before. This will be its first time back in Washington since its use during Lincoln’s administration. March 23–May 25, 511 10th St. NW, 202-347-4833