Monday, June 23, 2008

City Hall Celebrates 100

Well, I don't know of any actual celebrations, but the John A. Wilson Building, originally known as just "the District building," is 100 years old in 2008. Today its our city hall. When it was constructed (1904-1908), we didn't have a mayor or city council. District residents were ruled by a presidentially-appointed commission.

Our last autonomous leader before Walter Washington was a man named Alexander 'Boss' Shepherd who made massive improvements to DC's infrastructure after the Civil War as its "Governor." He wanted Washington to become a world class city. Too bad he spent twice his budget ($20,000,000), which was at that time allocated by Congress. He was sacked and the era of appointed commissioners began. That era lasted nearly 100 years. Shepherd's statue, was placed in front of the District building in 1909. In 1979 it was banished to the DC waste management facility in 1979 during the redevelopment of Penn Ave (see Freedom Plaza) and remained there for years. It finally made its way back civilization in 2005, again in front of the Wilson Building.