Returning to New York
THEODORE ROOSEVELT ENJOYED walking from his rented house on Nineteenth Street to his City Hall office at Judiciary Square. At Roosevelt's brisk pace, the jaunt took about thirty minutes. The walk was exhilarating, as the nation's capital was among America's most beautiful and cleanest cities. Unlike the dingy metropolises of Philadelphia, Boston, and New York, Washington endured little factory smoke to mar the sides of the white sandstone government buildings, nor did it suffer the rows of squalid tenements filled with immigrants. No skyscrapers blocked the sun or competed with the Washington Monument, recently completed and no longer resembling, according to Mark Twain, a "factory chimney with the top broken off."1 Once-unsightly wires for electric light and telephones had been buried underground.2 The scene of only ten murders in 1895, Washington ranked among the nation's safest cities.3
Roosevelt's walks took two general courses. If he chose the more northerly route, he followed tree-lined Massachusetts Avenue, which cut a diagonal swath across other streets to form quaint little parks and circles and passed by some of Washington's most ornate mansions and foreign embassies. If Theodore veered south, he strolled beneath the noble beech trees of Lafayette Park, where pigeons strutted among children playing hopscotch and nursemaids gossiped nearby. In the center of the square he could glance up at an equestrian statue of General Jackson, "as archaic as a Ninevite king, prancing and rocking through the ages."4 During the springtime he passed straw-hatted men basking on the park's benches reading their newspapers, either the morning's
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Publication information: Book title: Roosevelt the Reformer: Theodore Roosevelt as Civil Service Commissioner, 1889-1895. Contributors: Richard D. White Jr. - Author. Publisher: University of Alabama Press. Place of publication: Tuscaloosa, AL. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 141.
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