The Top 10 local stories of the year

December 20, 2013

Melina Mara / The Washington Post

It’s that time of year, when we take a look at the year that’s gone by. 2013 was  an eventful one in the city– with quite a few changes that could affect our lives for many years to come. Let’s take a look at my Top 10 for the District. This list became surprisingly difficult to cut down to only ten. So here are the rest:  Panda gives birth to Bao Bao; NPR opens in NoMa, 14th Street NW’s boom; Government Shutdown; 50th Anniversary of March on Washington; D.C. United stadium plan. Now to my picks.


The hardware store is engulfed in flames.- Tim Curran / The Washington Post

10. Frager’s Hardware burns down.

June 5th was an awful afternoon for an establishment that had become part of Capitol Hill’s fabric.  That place was one of the few locations in which federal and local Washington came together in the same place in the name of household items. They’re rebuilding now, with a decent amount of success. To think, when it was established, a couple guys names Calvin Coolidge and Franklin Roosevelt were running against each other on the presidential election ticket.


Tracy A. Woodward/THE WASHINGTON POST – Evening view of The Old Post Office Pavilion (L) showing the corner of Pennsylvania Ave NW and 12th St NW, Washington, D.C.

9. Trump buys Old Post Office Pavilion

To many, this might feel like just another building trading hands. Technically, Trump International is leasing it from the GSA, but after he turns it into a luxury hotel, that building will never be the same quirky piece of history with a glorious clock tower view. Now, it’s a kitsch food court that used to actually be a venue for people to entertain. But after the Trump treatment, I doubt I’ll ever walk through the doors, again.

 


The U.S. Marine Band confirmed that Beyonce recorded a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” the night before the inauguration. -Marvin Joseph / The Washington Post

8. Inauguration Day

Of course, they happen every four years, but this one was different. Why? One word: Beyonce. She graced the country with her rendition of the national anthem, which left everyone at the bar I watched it from completely speechless. It later set off debate about whether or not a lip-synched song is really a song, to which I say: ‘stop it’. The song that played was a song that SHE recorded, so it makes no difference either way.


The National Park Service hosts a ceremony in July at the Washington Monument to light the monument, which has been under restoration since a 2011 earthquake.Astrid Riecken / For The Washington Post

7. Scaffolding goes up on the Monument

Some people think that turning a grand memorial to nothing more than a construction site is gauche, but I happen to think it’s fantastic. The scaffolding around the obelisk gave it a more structured, artsy-designed look, that also happened to look extremely elegant when lit correctly. Of course, it was all up to repair the problems that came with the earthquake of 2011. It’s now down partially, which I’ll admit, does look strange.


Former D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown pled guilty to a bribery scheme – U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

6. Councilmember busted

To cap off a series of events that saw various Councilmembers busted for wrongdoing, Michael A. Brown’s took the cake. After former Councilmember Kwame Brown was caught falsifying information on bank loan documents and his colleague Harry Thomas pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for city youth programs, Michael Brown took a simpler route. The FBI released photos of him accepting straight up cash payouts during a meeting at The Hamilton downtown. That picture will likely be his legacy.

 


Carlita Walker celebrates as she enters the Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue. – Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post

5. Walmart opens in D.C.

The big box store finally landed in the city with two stores this month, after a struggle that included legislation that nearly created a living wage bill that sharply divided the D.C. Council. There are more to come, but for now, it seems the two locations already here are quite popular with those looking for falling low prices.


Mike DeBonis/The Washington Post

4. Credit cards come to cabs

For eons, Washington’s affluent have been whining that the cash-only system that the city’s taxicabs were operating by was archaic and borderline insulting. The idea being that if you can’t use you credit card, you might as well not have cabs at all, as you know, it’s 2013. That all changed this year when the city mandated the installation of card readers in all cabs. That’s not to say that the rollout has been a smooth one, but, baby steps, folks.


“Alonzo,” the city’s first legal medical marijuana customer, displays his first purchase. Capital City Care currently offers four strains of medical cannabis, priced from $380 to $440 an ounce. – Linda Davidson/The Washington Post

3. Medical marijuana legalized

The District made the bold move of opening dispensaries right in Congress’ backyard, allowing for the production and sale of medical marijuana within city limits. As of right now, with such strict rules for who can be given a license, combined with doctors who don’t feel comfortable handing out prescriptions, it hasn’t quite taken off. But, given time, it’s a considerable step for a city that often butts heads with the feds.


People exit a building with their hands above their heads as police respond to the shooting at the Navy Yard.- Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images

2. Navy Yard shootings

A tragedy took the lives of 13 people in September, a tragedy that shook the region in a way I’ve not seen in a long time. The man who did it, a civilian contractor and U.S. Navy sailor, was killed in a gunfight with police. I happened to be on vacation at the time, and watching it from afar was bizarre. The incident, the second-largest mass killing to ever take place on an American military base is something that nobody from this area will ever forget.


Jeff Bezos visits The Washington Post newsroom. – Matt McClain/The Washington Post

1. Bezos buys The Washington Post

If this seems self-serving, pardon me. But regardless of my job, this would be the story of the year. The day the sale was announced surely was a hectic one in the newsroom, but from a media landscape standpoint, for the man who revolutionized retail sales in this country to buy one of the most storied newspapers in the U.S. is pretty colossal. We’ll see what the future holds.

Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.
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