1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, better known as The White House, is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world. And Stephen Marks from tour company Bike and Roll DC, which offers cycle and Segway tours of the US capital, says it is interesting to hear what people say when they see this iconic building for the first time.
“A lot of people say it’s bigger than they thought it would be. Others think it’s smaller than they had imagined. It has some very beautiful landscaping. It is very dramatic. It was built back in 1801 so it’s got that regal sort of look to it.”
Stephen says when it was first built, it was called ‘The President’s Palace’ although that was quickly changed because it sounded too British!
The closest that visitors can get is about a quarter of a mile, which still provides a great view.
“Sometimes people look up on top of the White House and see the flag flying and assume it means that the President is in. It doesn’t mean they’re home. It is just a matter of respect for the country.”
“If you only put the flag up when the President was resident than that would be a sign for the bad guys,” he added.
I asked Stephen what’s the most interesting thing about the White House that he’s learned over the years?
“The White House has no front or back” he responded. “Dignitaries enter from both sides of the building. We don’t want to have to say that the Prime Minister of the UK is going in the back door and the Indian Prime Minister is going in the front door. So instead there’s a north and south entrance.”
Washington is a good place to cycle around because it was built as a capital city and was designed to be imposing and impressive with wide streets. There are no narrow lanes to squeeze through.
“The main place people like to visit is the National Mall. It’s perfect for cycling. It’s two miles between the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial and most people spend all the time there, so you can ride around and not get tired feet. The rest of the city is progressive and they have been putting in bike lanes which are protected from other traffic, so you can cycle around the city without having to worry about cars.” Stephen said
If you want to use Stephen’s services, book at bikeandrollDC.com.