Archive for July 7th, 2012

“…must be known that Washington City is the Mecca of the tramp,” says 1887 guidebook to Washington, D.C.

Library of Congress

“You cannot get along with out it, if you want Washington in a nut-shell,” so claims 1887’s The Sights of Washington and Its Vicinity, – And – How To See Them printed by the New York Cheap Publishing Company.

Sparing no expense, on pg. 49 the guide waxed eloquent about the Washington’s finest.

“[T]he police of this city deserve great praise for efficiency and vigilance,” when “considering the vast territory to be guarded and the smallness of the corps,” was how a popular guidebook to Washington described the Police Court and Police Headquarters. Each morning and often on holidays, the Police Court opened “to try parties arrested during the previous day and night.” Often times “the scenes here witnessed are frequently worthy of the pen of a Dickens and the pencil of a Hogarth.” The colorful guide continues, that it “must be known that Washington City is the Mecca of the tramp, as well as the professional “crook,” and “the curious medley of figures, colors, and sex cannot probably be seen in any other city as is displayed at the nation’s capitol.”

Thanks to Matthew Gilmore for the heads up.

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READ: “My Escape From Slavery” by Frederick Douglass [The Century Magazine, November 1881]

Room of Frederick Douglass at Cedar Hill. Photo by the author.

Full PDF available HERE.  Hat Tip to Ron Unz, Chairman, or

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