By Jeremy Merkel
We are a day late and maybe a dollar or two short but we would be remiss if we, a politically focused group, didn’t acknowledge the 40th anniversary of Watergate and the birth of the “gate” suffix for every crisis in the Beltway.
While every visit to Washington DC drives tourists to its most famous attractions: the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington monument, the White House, and Smithsonian Museum, no trip should be without a visit to the Watergate Condominium and Office Complex. The Watergate represents the height of a bygone era in D.C.; our nation and politics as it sits like a “white whale”, subtly nestled on the banks of the Potomac River. And of equal importance, is the old Howard Johnson’s Hotel sitting across the street (although now it is a dormitory for the George Washington University).
When completed in 1971, the Watergate complex was a center for business and one of the district’s most desirable places to live. Now, despite its fantastic location, it struggles like many urban innovations from the late 60’s and early 70’s, to get updated and repositioned.
As the building is being “adaptively re-used” (to apply the real estate terminology), we wonder whether we, as citizens have learned and adapted? Are the messages and experiences still relevant? What is useful today?