Last Saturday, the day before Easter, I decided to head out to the National Building Museum in downtown Washington, DC because of a free event that was held as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival known as Family Day. I arrived at the very majestic and historical National Building Museum, which is usually a feast for the eyes both inside and outside.

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The various cherry blossom related activities and decorations enhanced the inside of the building even more.

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The major high point for me was seeing this drawing robot in action. It’s known as the Kawasaki DuAro and it was available for drawing people’s portraits in ink.

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I would’ve loved to have had the robot draw my portrait but the line to use the machine was a bit long so I had to settle for shooting this short video instead.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, which is the agency that frequently gets maligned by right wing extremists like Cliven Bundy as well as certain Republican lawmakers. Most people in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area don’t see the National Park Service as the enemy so most of us don’t really have any issue with certain areas being run by that federal agency. The National Park Service had an activity center for kids as a tie-in with the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Family Day and they will be more such tie-ins as the festival continues for the next few weeks.

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The cherry blossom trees were at their peak bloom on that day. While many out-of-towners tend to gather and crowd around the trees planted in the Tidal Basin, it’s not the only place in Washington, DC where one can find blooming cherry blossom trees. There were quite a few just outside the National Building Museum and they were nowhere near as crowded as the ones in the Tidal Basin.

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There were a couple of skateboarders using the National Building Museum’s steps to practice their tricks.

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I also walked around the nearby Chinatown area. Chinatown was once home to Chinese immigrants, many of whom started businesses in that area. In recent years these locally owned stores have been replaced by chain stores and restaurants. One interesting fact is that, due to a DC ordinance that the signs in Chinatown be bilingual in English and Chinese, many of these chain businesses display their signs in both languages.

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I made a stop at It’s Sugar, which I’m well familiar with due to the numerous trips I’ve made to its Baltimore location. The DC store is small compared to the one in Harborplace but it’s still full of all kinds of sweet goodies, some of which comes from all over the world.

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The focal point of Chinatown is the Friendship Archway, which is reputed to be the largest of its kind built anywhere in the world. It is a very impressive structure to see in person.

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A street performer croons a tune to people coming to and going from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station.

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While the chain stores and restaurants have displaced many of the original Chinese businesses, there are a few that remain. But these businesses seem to be more and more in the minority compared with the chains.

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These Chinese businesses still have Chinese style reliefs and other art on the sides of the buildings, such as this relief in the next photograph.

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Wok and Roll, located at 601 H Street, Northwest, is a restaurant that serves Chinese and Japanese dishes. A plaque next to the front door notes the fact that, during the Civil War, it was a boarding house that was owned by a widow named Mary Surratt, who ran it in order to pay off debts that were left by her late husband. It was there where Mary’s son, John Surratt, met with John Wilkes Booth and a few other Confederate sympathizers in order to plan the kidnapping of President Abraham Lincoln. After Booth assassinated President Lincoln, Mary Surratt was arrested and later hanged on conspiracy charges. To this day historians still debate whether Mary Surratt was really involved with the conspiracy against Lincoln or if she was just a victim of circumstance.
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