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Washington D.C.

  • ... the whole of society in Washington is to some degree political. It is like no other capital city known to me, in that political thinking, the whole business, technical and personal, of politics, is not diluted by an equal interest in art, industry, amusement, anything you like. I don't meant that these are non-existent in Washington — only that they are subdued to the ruling passion.

  • There is a gentle absurdity about Washington, D.C., and it is easy to develop affection for the place, if you can forget that the consequences of what goes on there are real, whereas what goes on there may not be.

  • One has to live in Washington to know what a city of rumors it is.

  • Washington is an endless series of mock palaces clearly built for clerks.

  • The capital city specializes in ballooning monuments and endless corridors. It uses marble like cotton wool. It is the home of government of, for, and by the people, and of taste for the people — the big, the bland, and the banal.

  • [On the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:] The building is a national tragedy ... a cross between a concrete candy box and a marble sarcophagus in which the art of architecture lies buried.

  • Because it is a national landmark, there is only one way to judge the Kennedy Center — against the established standard of progressive and innovative excellence in architectural design that this country is known and admired for internationally. Unfortunately, the Kennedy Center not only does not achieve this standard of innovative excellence; it also did not seek it. The architect opted for something ambiguously called 'timelessness' and produced meaninglessness. It is to the Washington manner born. Too bad, since there is so much of it.

  • No matter what an architect may be at home, he becomes a monumentalist when he comes to Washington.

  • I wanted to visit the Capitol of our country, the center of our great civilization that stands like the sun in the solar system, sendin' out beams of power and wisdom and law and order, and justice and injustice, and money and oratory, and talk and talk, and wind and everything, to the uttermost points of our vast possessions, and from them clear to the ends of the earth.

  • Washington knows that it is not safe to kick people who are down until you find out what their next stop will be.

  • You don't want to look too chic at a Washington party or people will think you don't have a job worth losing.

  • Social climbing and power climbing — the two are often synonymous — are what make Washington run. ... If there are more than two people together, if there are three, one of them is climbing.

  • ... Washington is, for one thing, the news capital of the world. And for another, it is a company town. Most of the interesting people in Washington either work for the government or write about it.

  • Power ... was the coin of the Washington realm and, without it, you might as well file for bankruptcy.

  • The only way to keep a secret in Washington, if you are the one person who knows it, is never to tell another living soul.

    • Maxine Cheshire,
    • in Maxine Cheshire, with John Greenya, Maxine Cheshire, Reporter ()
  • Today Washington is our Hollywood, the Senate our Warner Bros., the White House our Beverly Hills. People who never read a line of a movie magazine deal with the lives of leaders as if they were Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

  • Washington is full of famous men and the women they married when they were young.

  • [On the Chicago Cubs:] Being a Cubs fan prepares you for life — and Washington.

  • Nobody's ever decided what success is, out here.

  • ... a city where the Capitol Dome, perforated like a kitchen colander, is the symbol of how secrets are kept ...

  • In Washington it is an honor to be disgraced. By that I mean you have to have been somebody to fall.

  • Liked some of the neighbors there [Washington, D.C.] but not the society in general; 'tis too like a travelling menagerie, a gaping curiosity from group to group and a constant wish to see the big lions stirred up with a long pole.

    • Fanny Longfellow,
    • 1840, in Edward Wagenknecht, ed., Mrs. Longfellow: Selected Letters and Journals of Fanny Appleton Longfellow ()
  • I've seen disgusting excess in business, and I've seen disgusting excess in Washington. But at the same time, I've certainly learned that Washington matters and that you can't ignore it, especially when you get into telecom.

    • Esther Dyson,
    • "On the Frontier: An Interview with Esther Dyson," in Reason ()
  • Oh, that all the things my father had told me about how disgusting Washington is are true. And again it's the system — there are lots of nice, well-meaning people there. But it's a sleazy place. And politics is all about doing favors.

    • Esther Dyson,
    • "On the Frontier: An Interview with Esther Dyson," in Reason ()
  • Dear Washington, how I love you, with your beautiful, broad, generous streets and blue skies! The sun shines always there for me.

  • In Washington, the public and the private intertwine in such a way that they can't be easily separated. This is the city where the personal and the political are most closely linked.

  • For more than eight decades, Washington has been my hometown. ... It is a city that offers me more people — more different kinds of people — than I could otherwise possibly have come to know in a lifetime: the native Washingtonian, the local merchant, the foreign diplomat, the ever-present tourist, the public servant, the journalist, the president, the friend.

  • [On Washington, D.C.:] There was no other city in the world where rumor fed upon itself so virulently. Whispers wiped out careers just as cholera destroyed its human victims.

  • [On women in previously all-male fields:] I think it will change in a lot of workplaces. I'm not so sure it will ever change on Capitol Hill until more women are in powerful positions. Because this is the last plantation for men.

  • Washington was not just a city of marble buildings and smoke-filled rooms and power brokers, but also a town full of people who do care about each other, in good times and bad.

  • I am so glad to have spent my life largely where the figures and events of history stir the dullest scene as in ... Washington, which, if it has little history behind, is at least engaged in the daily manufacture of more.

  • There is a way of dressing that still says Washington to me and brings back memories of sitting on a plush chair watching my mother have an evening dress or a suit fitted. Washington women's suits had to have structure, manners, backbone, character.

    • Constance Casey,
    • "Memoirs of a Congressman's Daughter," in The Washington Post Magazine ()
  • [On Herbert Hoover:] I disliked him enormously especially when he clinked his change during one of the Beethoven Quartets. Chance makes great men of some queer people, or rather I should say prominent men. One thing that Washington has clearly taught me is that prominent men are very rarely great men.

    • Agnes E. Meyer,
    • in Katharine Graham, Katharine Graham's Washington ()
  • In general, living in or near Washington gives us a domesticated sense of political life. We see a Congressman painting his screened porch and begin to think of our national officials as local citizens rather than representatives of special interests.

  • I love Washington, but it is a self-important town.

  • I think the city of Washington itself is insular to a certain extent. You have to get out in the country to realize what is going on and discover that the perceptions in Washington aren't necessarily accurate.

    • Rosalynn Carter,
    • speech (1984), in William O. Foss, First Ladies Quotations Book ()
  • The cocktail party remains a vital Washington institution, the official intelligence system.

  • [On Washington, D.C.:] ... it is a small village in some ways. Everybody knows everything about everyone else. If something happens to you at one o'clock, the whole town knows it by two.

  • Fashion here echoes politics; skirts and hairstyles usually end up at compromise lengths designed not to offend anyone or make a statement of any kind. Like Presidents, skirts try to please all of the people all of the time — and often end up pleasing none.

    • Maureen Dowd,
    • "Of Hems and Haws: The Insiders' Guide to 'Dave'," in The New York Times ()
  • Washington's capitol is a reproach to common decency, this government like a fish, 'stinks worse at the head.'

  • [On Washington, D.C.:] Too small to be a state but too large to be an asylum for the mentally deranged.

  • [On Washington, D.C.:] a town of successful men and the women they married before they were successful.

  • People in Washington seem as hypnotized by precedence as though they were hens with their beaks on a chalk line.

  • While in New York it's more important to 'do something,' in Washington it's more important to 'be someone.'

  • Sooner or later, everyone comes to Washington.

  • All you have to do to draw a crowd to a Washington party is to hang a lamb chop in the window.

    • Perle Mesta,
    • in Katharine Graham, Katharine Graham's Washington ()