By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 1, 2005; 12:00 AM
Column 32D has a halo of bumper scrapes on it now. There's plenty of light. People are picking their kids up from day care.
Not too much to distinguish this quiet corner of the parking garage at 1401 Wilson Blvd. Except this:
It was there, word leaked out yesterday, that Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward had his clandestine meetings with former FBI official Mark Felt, otherwise known as "Deep Throat."
During those conversations, Felt, whose identity was revealed last month, provided critical information that gave The Post the confidence to write the stories that led to the downfall of a president.
At Column 32D, where they apparently met, your voice echoes as if you were in church. It's well lit, but there's a creepy air shaft filled with trash and soggy leaves. Throw in some late-night shadows and you could almost imagine Hal Holbrook lurking in a corner, spreading secrets.
"When we read earlier it was a garage in Arlington, we wondered if it was our little garage, so basic, so unassuming," said Betsy Marcotte, 54, a World Bank consultant from Great Falls.
"It's cool. It's a little piece of history," Marcotte said. She and her husband have been parking there for more than a decade, taking the Metro to their jobs in downtown Washington.
The little garage -- three levels below a glass-walled office building in Rosslyn -- got its big scrape with fame yesterday. Press and local television cameras inundated the place.
A crew from "Dateline NBC" was there because, as it turns out, they've known the Identity of the Garage for weeks. Tom Brokaw and Woodward have gamboled among the yellow parking stripes, talking history. A special is planned for next Wednesday.
"It's funny -- it's one of the most innocuous garages in Washington," Marcotte concluded as she stood in the hot sun on the sidewalk yesterday.
Probably that was the idea. In the thick of the Watergate story, Woodward would have signaled his desire for a late-night meeting with Felt by moving a red-flagged flower pot on the balcony of his apartment at 17th and P streets NW, Woodward and co-author Carl Bernstein wrote in their book "All the President's Men."
Woodward would meet Felt there about 2 a.m., often taking two or more taxis from his apartment. Sometimes he couldn't get a cab and would walk the whole way.
"On two occasions, a meeting had been set and the man had not shown up -- a depressing and frightening experience, as Woodward had waited for more than an hour, alone in an underground garage in the middle of the night," the authors wrote.
It's open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. now.
Thirty years later, some garage regulars were taken aback at their garage's historic provenance.
"It's not spooky," said Ginny Pollack, 35, a consultant from Falls Church on her way to pick up son Nicholas, 2, from day care. She looked around. "It's not covert either. There's a lot of traffic in and out."
Michael O'Haver, 46, a software engineer, heard the news as he was leaving work yesterday, on his way home to Crofton.
"I'm not surprised this was his meeting place. Garages are surreptitious places," O'Haver said.
"But if I saw them talking now I would have gone over and said 'Hi.' "