(K. Brent Tomer),
“WELCOME to Washington, DC”, says the solid, red, white and blue sign on the corner of Branch and Southern Avenues, in this leafy entry to the nation’s capital. A stream of traffic is carrying in mostly African-American commuters from Maryland’s Prince George’s County. It is eight o’clock on a clear blue morning: a perfect day for a walk across Washington.
The distance from one end of the District of Columbia to the other is only about 11 miles (18km). Today’s zigzag route (see map) is perhaps 17 miles. The eyes of the world will be on Washington on January 20th, the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president. The idea of walking across it is to do a double dissection of the city: a geographical one (a leisurely look at its contrasts, from the poorer south-east to the prosperous north-west, where your correspondent lived in the mid-1990s); and a historical and cultural one (a sense of how the place has changed). On both dimensions, big surprises lay ahead.