Beginning at the Archives Metro station and proceeding up Pennsylvania Avenue and back down Constitution, the Federal Triangle Trail passes institution after crucial institution: the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Old Post Office, the EPA, the Department of Commerce, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the IRS, and the National Archives, as well as several Smithsonian museums, the Newseum, and multiple outdoor memorials. The area is architecturally lovely, imposing, and full of contradictions. The flowers are pretty. A significant number of homeless people try to catch some more sleep beneath makeshift shelters, their possessions strewn over expensive benches. Inside the stone walls of the buildings, state power lurks quietly, big enough to devour us all if it chose.
I had never before been to the center of the Federal Triangle, where Federal Triangle Metro station-- strangely-- nestles into and underneath the EPA building, and a large enclosed courtyard hides beyond it, almost Italian in style, full of sculptures and with arched passageways leading out to Pennsylvania Avenue, Constitution Avenue, 12th Street, 14th Street. There is an odd semi-circular shopping center punched into the ground, accessible by a down escalator from street level. Apart from the shopping mall, it reminded me a bit of Florence. There were trees, benches, sidewalk cafe tables. Only steps from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol building, a Tibetan monk strolled one of the arched passageways. A woman wearing a chador rode the escalator down towards the shopping mall. The heart of DC persists in being wildly international despite the hostility to internationality that inhabits it now.
The fuck-you tour:
As an aside, there are some pretty damn weird sculptures outside some of these federal buildings. This guy is guarding the National Archives: