June 13, 2022
Good morning, Monday!
☀️ Today's weather: The heat is back. High of 90 with a 20% chance of rain.
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Today's newsletter is 874 words — a 3-minute read.
1 big thing: 😲 D.C.'s five best Watergate secrets
On June 17, 1972, a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex led to the scandal that would topple a president, turn two young Washington Post reporters into celebrities, demonstrate the power of investigative journalism, and send shockwaves through both federal Washington and hometown D.C.
Five decades later, though, we’ve forgotten some of the incredible local facets of the scandal. Garrett Graff, journalist and author of Watergate: A New History, unearthed a few for us.
Here are five to impress your friends over drinks.
That time Washingtonian correctly guessed the identity of Deep Throat — in 1974.
- A year after the break-in, the magazine’s then-editor Jack Limpert wrote that the best gossip game in town was guessing who Deep Throat was, then nailed it himself.
- “Read the February 28 and March 13 Presidential transcripts and then try someone like Mark Felt on for size,” his article said.
That time the Brookings Institution was almost broken into.
- Per Graff’s book, Nixon wanted someone to sneak into Brookings to dig up information on himself. Unfortunately for Nixon, the would-be burglar, a former New York cop, could not find the building. Oops.
That time Gerald Ford was the president from Alexandria.
- When Nixon resigned and Vice President Gerald Ford suddenly became president, he was living in Alexandria. There was not yet a veep mansion at the Naval Observatory.
That time the Washington Daily News almost got the big story.
- Mark Felt didn’t start leaking to Woodward, Graff says. Instead, he was whispering to The Washington Daily News — a rival of the Post. But the Daily News went out of business in mid-1972. Some parts of the paper were sold and merged with The Washington Star.
And speaking of The Washington Star…
2. 📍 Where it all went down
The Watergate complex is largely overlooked today as the city continues developing to the east.
But from the time the first building opened — roughly seven years before the scandal — the complex was the talk of the town.
- The Watergate was one of D.C.’s first mixed-use developments, per this Washingtonian deep dive into the building’s history. It was also one of the first big city projects backed by foreigners: Italian real estate company Società Generale Immobiliare.
- One of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s favorite architects, Luigi Moretti, designed the complex. Some admired the curving shape, an out-of-character choice for Washington.
- Washington Post critic Wolf Von Eckardt said the design was as appropriate as "a strip dancer performing at your grandmother's funeral."
Zoom in: The complex became the home of VIP Washington’s power set, with a country club vibe, in Washingtonian’s telling, and a certain nickname: the “Republican Bastille.”
But the scandal upended the Watergate’s reputation. As one of the developers told Washingtonian, no one wanted to rent the DNC offices for nearly two years afterward.
- Meanwhile, “guests at the hotel stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of towels, robes, and other items emblazoned with the Watergate logo as souvenirs.”
Today: The Watergate Hotel is leaning into the 50th anniversary with special packages. It also offers “Scandal Suite” tours where visitors can explore (or stay in) the room where E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy led the DNC burglars using binoculars and radios.
For a real taste of Watergate, try the Watergate Scandal cocktail at The Next Whisky Bar at the hotel.
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3. 🐌 Silver Line at a snail's pace
Don't expect to be able to take the Silver Line to Dulles Airport this summer.
Driving the news: The project that Washingtonians have long grumbled about doesn't have an opening date yet, but it is getting close to the stage where builders will hand it over to Metro.
- Metro interim GM Andy Off said last week the agency will take over control within "the next several weeks," the Washington Post reported.
- Metro will then perform more than three months of testing and prep to get it ready to open, possibly in the fall or winter.
Catch up quick: The 11-mile Phase 2 of the Silver Line will add six new stations, including at Dulles and ending in Ashburn.
- The $2.7 billion project has been beset by faulty concrete issues, delaying its opening.
- Since opening its first stations in 2014, the Silver Line has transformed the Dulles corridor — spawning new highrises and urban centers from McLean to Reston. Its extension is expected to do more of the same.
4. Around the Beltway: Turnaround story
🚀 The improbable rise of Virginia Democrat Don Scott, who turned his life around after a felony conviction to become House minority leader. (Washington Post)
🏛 The Whittle private school in Van Ness is facing a lawsuit for eviction over alleged back rent. (Washington Business Journal)
👀 Great views: The Old Post Office building's clock tower has reopened to guests. (DCist)
5. Pic du jour: 🏳️🌈 Capital Pride shines
The Capital Pride Parade was held on Saturday, and celebrations and events continue throughout the month.
💸 Axios event: Join Dan Primack and Hope King live tomorrow 8am-9am for an event examining the rise of cryptocurrencies in the investing space.
- Guests include Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Archetype venture partner Katherine Wu, and CFTC commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero.
- Register here for livestream and in-person—breakfast will be included.