Washington DC: The White House

After the visit to the Ford’s Theater, we made our way via the Metro to The White House. The closest Metro station to the White House is the Federal Triangle. We got out of the station and ended up on Pennsylvania Ave.


I had read so much about Pennsylvania Ave. For one, the most famous address in the US is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave — that is the official address of the White House. Pennsylvania Ave is considered as the “Main Street” of Washington DC and is also the avenue where parades and processions are held.


The two most important buildings in Washington DC, the White House and the US Capitol, is joined to each other via this avenue with an (almost) direct line of sight. He he he … how do you like the illustration above of the view down Pennsylvania Ave from the US Capitol. I made it using Google Earth. Is there a way to record a drive by using Google Earth … anyone know how to do that?

I have two trivia for Canadians. First one here and the other one further down this posting. Here is the first one … the only embassy located on Pennsylvania Ave is the Canadian Embassy. No other embassy is located as close to the US Capitol than the Canadian Embassy. Cool, eh? I think the Yankees likes the Canucks a lot to allow us to do that.


The White House is not opened to the public. The only way for most people to find out more about the White House is to visit the official White House Visitor Center. This is located about 2 blocks from the White House — it’s just a short walk off the greens around the White House.


Not everyone could visit the White House anymore ever since 9-11. They used to conduct tours for anyone but since then visits to the White House had been drastically curtailed. So, the White House Visitor Center is the closest one could now see of how it is on the inside … through videos and photos. Sucks, huh? Blame it on Osama bin Laden!

We asked if it is possible at all to visit the White House and apparently one could still do that. For American citizens, you need to get an invitation through a member of Congress. For non-Americans, you could try to get an invite through the respective embassies. They will do a background check, obviously, before they issue the invite.

We spent quite a bit of time here in the White House Visitor Center. There is a continuously running video which we watched … well, I watched and Suanne slept through it. 🙂 She was tired, I can see.


After the Visitor Center, we walked directly to the south lawn of the White House. Oh wow, security was extremely tight especially against vehicles. There was this car that made a wrong turn and pointed the car into the entrance and two officers immediately jumped in a threatening manner shouting “What the f*** are you doing?!?” with their hands on their weapons. That startled both Suanne and I … and I can see the fear in the driver’s eyes. I would have pee’d in my pants if I were him.


I took the picture above from the top of the Washington Monument. It appears that GW Bush was going out for a drive judging by all the black SUVs parked in front.

The White House is beautiful as I had imagined. It was a clear sunny, blue sky day too … just perfect for pictures of the White House. You can just gawk at it … nothing to see really. It’s a bit of a jostle with everyone wanting to take a picture of themselves in front it. We took some.


I fished out my 200mm lens plus a 1.4x teleconverter and made this shot. That is about the closest I can see the White House. Anyone have any idea where the President’s Oval Office is? Is it located in the front, pictured above? Well, the shape of the offices in the center are oval shaped and those windows does look out to the National Mall. Squint your eyes and try look thru the windows … is that not GW Bush there on the top floor right most window? LOL!

Bet you don’t know this … the White House actually have six floor. Two of them are basements. I bet it will be where the war rooms are located … you know, the room you see in movies where the President wage wars against evil Middle Eastern countries. Hmmm … that must also be where the “red phone” is located. The “red phone” used to be a direct line to Moscow … now, it had been redirected to Beijing. [OK. I am talking nonsense!]

Seriously … or rather half seriously now. Here is the second Canadian trivia. Did you know that the Canadians burned down the White House once? No kidding. Can anyone tell me the full story?

Well, the story is like this. Way back in 1812, the rascal Yanks invaded Toronto and burned down the Canadian Parliament (back then the Parliament was located in Toronto). In retaliation, the Canucks went to Washington DC and burn the city’s government building down, including the White House. Actually, it was the British who did it but since they came from Canada, let’s for a moment consider them Canadians, shall we?


In front of the White House, there is a marker for measuring highway distances. I am not sure how that works. I know in Canada’s Highway 1, the highway that stretches from the Pacific to Atlantic, there is a Mile 0 marker to mark the start of the highway. But … I don’t know how this one works or the story behind this.


There is a Christmas Tree too in the lawn in front of the White House. This must be a tree of some significance since they fenced it up. For a moment, I would think they light this up during Christmas but I thought I read too that someone (Canada?) always donate a huge tree every year to put in front of the White House.


Hmmm … maybe it was just that day but I do see a lot of Chinese tourists around the White House area. You will be able to spot them from afar … almost everyone of them have point-and-shoot camera and on a hot sunny day like this, they carry umbrellas.

We headed next down to the National Mall for the museums …

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  1. KimHo

    Hi Ben,

    I am not sure about Mile 0 but, in Panama and, from what have observed, in other countries, there is a Kilometre 0. It is used as reference point to measure distances. So, if you were to calculate the distance from Panama City (Panama’s main city in the Pacific side) to Colon City (main city in the Atlantic side), you will start counting from that milestone.

    About the White House burning, yes, I knew about it… But! The source, to say the least, is quite funny: This Hour Has 22 Minutes. No, really! Check here: http://crazedmonkey.com/blog/politics/rick_mercer_apology.html

  2. Jason

    I went to that Canadian Embassy five years ago, to get my visa to come to Vancouver!

    So good stuff, but where’s the food!

  3. wtli1988

    The reason why the Canadian embassy is the only one is entirely a fluke.

    Before DC (District of Columbia) moved to its current position, Pennsylvania Avenue was a dump. Out of pure chance, the Canadian government decided to buy a large lot on Pennsylvania Avenue for $5 million and on this land they built the Canadian embassy. Soon after the District of Columbia moved to Pennsylvania Ave and built up the surrounding infrastructure. They were, however, never able to buy back the land from the Canadians.

  4. Malnurtured Snay

    Hey Ben – the Oval Office is located in the West Wing of the White House, and not the main building itself.

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