PR Training

President Teddy Roosevelt’s Ongoing D.C. Legacy

Editor’s note: This is the sixth post in a series of guest posts from the PRSA National Capital Chapter publicity committee leading up to the PRSA 2014 International Conference, October 12 – 14. Follow the Conference conversation by searching the hashtag #PRSAICON and following our PRSA National Events Twitter handle, @PRSAevents.

via: Harvey Barrison

Don’t Miss Roosevelt Island, Key Bridge Boat House and the National Cathedral

Our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, left more than his presidential legacy to Washington, D.C. He was the inspiration for Roosevelt Island–reachable by canoe or kayak, and he laid the first cornerstone for the Washington National Cathedral. In addition, he is considered a PR pioneer launching one of the first-ever large publicity campaigns. “His conservation policies, effectively promoted by Gifford Pinchot, in the governments’ first large-scale publicity program, saved much of America’s resources from gross exploitation,” wrote Glen Broom in his book Effective Public Relations.

Here are some additional details about visiting Roosevelt-related sites around D.C.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

By car visitors can reach Theodore Roosevelt Island using the George Washington Parkway that parallels the Potomac River. Pull into the free 90-car parking lot shared by bicyclists, runners, walkers, dog-walkers and tourists. Lace up your sneakers and cross the footbridge to the island wilderness that Roosevelt would have loved.

Well-maintained boardwalks and trails allow you to appreciate the tranquility of the woods and share the habitat of deer, herons, and countless other animals from a respectful distance. Be forewarned, if you only hike the 1.5 mile perimeter of the island, you will not catch a glimpse of Roosevelt. To experience the bronze and granite monument, follow signs to the center of the island. As the trees clear away, a 17-foot tall statue will greet you with an outstretched hand. The park service website says that Roosevelt is in “characteristic speaking pose.” But I felt, and you will too, that he was proudly welcoming me to the habitat he was able to preserve for our enjoyment, while continuing his campaign for conservation.

Visitor Tips:

  • This island is best enjoyed as a nature hike, but visit even if you only have time for a quick tourist stop. Check out the website before you go.
  • By car, the Island is only accessible driving north on the George Washington Parkway. It’s a 10-minute drive from Reagan National Airport. To arrive by bicycle, follow directions on this website.
  • For a more extensive adventure, approach the island by kayak. (See Key Bridge Boat House below.)

Key Bridge Boat House

If you are a water lover, consider canoeing or kayaking over to Roosevelt Island or just enjoying the view of D.C. from the water starting at the Key Bridge Boat House. Located on Water Street, where Georgetown and the Potomac meet, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards by the hour, allowing you to experience D.C. from the Potomac.

If your schedule and the weather permit, I highly recommend the unique Twilight Kayak Adventure, described as follows:

“As the sun falls over Washington D.C., our adventure begins! We start with a brief kayaking and safety instruction followed by a 90-minute guided paddle around Teddy Roosevelt Island, paddling past iconic D.C. locations like Watergate, the Lincoln Memorial and Kennedy Center as our guides comment on interesting and unique facts of the area that you will only hear from Key Bridge Boat House! No previous kayaking experience required!”

Visitor Tips:

  • Call in advance to ensure that the Boat House is operating under normal business hours.
  • I have always succeeded in finding a parking spot near the Boat House, but spots are limited.
  • Prepare to get wet and bring a change of clothes. Cabanas for changing are provided on site.

Washington National Cathedral

President Roosevelt laid the first cornerstone for Washington National Cathedral September 29, 1907 more than a century since architect Pierre L’Enfant and founding father George Washington envisioned a spire overlooking the capital city.

As the fourth-tallest structure in D.C., the National Cathedral provides one of the best views of D.C., and an interior decorated with gargoyles and even a moon rock.  The Cathedral offers daily services open to the public and is described as “a spiritual resource for our nation…an indispensable ministry for people of all faiths and perspectives.”

If you climb the 333 steps, you will reach the bell ringing chamber in the Cathedral’s central tower. You’ll  be rewarded with one of the most amazing views of Washington, D.C. from 300 feet above the ground.

Sculptures decorating the e the Cathedral include whimsical gargoyles, grotesques and even Darth Vader fully described during the Gargoyle Tour.

Visitor Tip:

  • The Cathedral is located at the intersection of Wisconsin and Massachusetts Ave, only 1.2 miles from the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. On-site parking is available for a fee.

I encourage you to arrive in D.C. a day or two early to experience the history and natural beauty that D.C. has to offer thanks to the communications practices of our 26th president. Post your pictures to twitter using hashtag #_____ to share your D.C. discoveries with your PRSA colleagues.

Lisa Conners Vogt, APR

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