November 14, 2016

The Trump myth we take personally

Sam Smith - As a native Washingtonian I am particularly annoyed by Donald Trump's promise to "drain the swamp" that is DC.  He is playing on a myth that has  no basis. Washington in part or whole was never a swamp. It did have tidal marshes of the sort people now pay large sums to build an overlooking house nearby but not a swamp. Some notes that back this up:

We Love DC - DC was not built on a swamp.  While there were some marshy areas near the rivers, the land that is now Washington DC was a mix of thickly wooded slopes, bluffs and hills, crop land, and several major waterways.  Even though it may feel swamp-like out there during our unbearably humid summers, remember that it’s due to our humid subtropical climate and not because the city was built on a swamp. . .

Bob Arnebeck, H-DC -For the past ten years a number of historians of Washington, DC, have been trying to put to rest the idea that the city was built on a swamp. The Mall in particular was not a swamp, though it did have a river with a tidal flow next to it (where today's Constitution Avenue runs). . .The City of Washington, like every other US city founded in the 17th and 18th centuries along tidewater, did have low ground. But the knee jerk association of Washington with a swamp, on a list on urban history, does a disservice, unless we all want to join forces and begin talking about the New York swamp, and the Philadelphia swamp, and the Baltimore swamp, etc. It bears remembering that to many Europeans in the 18th century all of America was a swamp.


Anonymous said...

As a metaphor swamp still retains significance.

greg gerritt said...

As sea level rises all those cities will return to tidal marsh.