Washington, D.C., according to an Italian guidebook, "e in effeti unacitta molto pulita dove l'industria principale e incontestablimente l'amministrazione. Le larghe avenue, le cassette basse, fanno di Washington un posto gradevole da visitare, ma nondimeno sconsigliato per viverci, poiche 'Washington e diventata la capitale piu pericolosa del mondo.' Non dimenticatelo!"
Ours is, in other words, "a very clean city where the major industry is indisputably government. The wide avenues and low houses make Washington an agreeable place to visit, but it is not advised to live there because 'Washington has become the most dangerous capital in the world.' Don't forget it!"
Many Washingtonians have forgotten. It has been 10 years, after all, since Richard Nixon, running for President, derided Washington as "one of the crime capitals of the nation" and suggested that "D.C." could stand for "Disorder and Crime".
Crime statistics have dropped dramatically since then, and there is widespread agreement that the city has blossomed with the opening of the Kennedy Center and the National Gallery's east building, the "back to the city" movement of young professionals, and the steady proliferation of stores and restaurants.
But, says former city police chief Maurice Cullinane, "our image has been harder to defeat than the crime problem itself. We (the police department) still get letters in here that I'd like to bring my children to Washington. Are you sure it's safe? Postmarked Detroit, Michigan."
(In 1977 Washington had a crime rate of 7,220 offenses per 100,000 residents compared to Detroit's 9,401 per 100,000 residents, according to FBI figures. The FBI does not maintain such statistics for foreign cities, but newspaper accounts suggest that crime is also not unheard of in Rome, the capital of Italy.)
Washington-area business leaders generally believe there are more tourists here this year than last, although "it's a very difficult thing to measure," says Austin Kenney of the Washington Area Convention and Visitors Association. "You don't have to show a passbook or go through a turnstile."
"I wouldn't say it's a whole lot to write home to mother about," cautions Leonard Hickman of the Hotel Association of Washington. Still, he acknowledges, hotel occupancy rates for the first seven months of 1978 were about five percent better than the comparable figures for 1977.
But in spite of the feeling that tourism may be on the rise, the people who are paid to worry about it are, in fact, somewhat worried.
"This is an extremely complete city now," says Kenney. "There's very little missing. But how do you get that across?"
Tourists have a "limited image" of the city, says John Fondersmith of the D.C. city planning office. When they think of Washington they think of "the museums and the cherry blossoms and the Capitol and the White House . . . People somehow don't know that the other Washington is there."
One result of that ignorance, Fondersmith fears, is that "people may come here and wind up staying a shorter time than they intended . . . People feel, well, I've seen Washington and now I'll go somewhere else and live it up."
A series of interviews with tourists outside the White House and the National Air and Space Museum appeared to lend credence to Fondersmith's theais. While many visitors thoroughly enjoyed the rigors of museum - and - monument - hopping, young adults and teenagers tended to be critical.
"Most of the people, they're interested in nothing so serious," complained Charlotte Yu of Taiwan as she emerged from the official White House tour.
Arthur and Paula Shaw of London said they liked what they had seen of Washington so far - the Mall, the Washington Monument and parts of the Smithsonian complex - but they were afraid to venture far at night from their downtown hotel, the Harrington, because of Washington's reputation as an unsafe city.
Whatever the problems, tourism is obviously big business in Washington.
An estimated 4.5 million overnight-visitors stay in the area's 35,000 hotel and motel rooms every year, according to the Convention and Visitors Association. At least that number of visitors stay with friends and relatives.
Altogether, visitors spend nearly a billion dollars here annually, accounting for perhaps $40 million in local tax revenues, the association calculates [WORD ILLEGIBLE] million to the D.C. government and $10 million divided between Virginia and Maryland). About 45,000 area residents are directly employed in the tourism and visitor-service industry.
But there is no clear evidence of long-term growth. In the mid-1960s, for example, nearly two million people a year (local residents as well as tourists) visited the Washington Monument. Last year, only 1,218,948 people did, and the 1978 figures, though a slight improvement, are in the same ballpark.
For many individuals, and individual ventures, tourism in the nation's capital has proved to be no guarantee of financial prosperity.
Some firms have never recovered fully from the 1968 riots. American Sightseeing Tours, a small downtown tour company, has seen steady business improvement in the last few years, according to company president Vinnard Parris. But American's overall business volume is still barely 60 percent of what it was before 1968.
Nor was the Bicentennial a happy anniversary for all concerned. The Wilson Boat Line invested $2.5 million into three sleek catamarans designed to accomodate the expected hordes of tourists, and wound up in bankruptcy when the hordes did not come.
Hotels miscalculated, too, according to Hickman. Business in 1976 "was just about even with the previous year," he says. And the city's unionized hotels, he adds, are still operating under a contract with hotel workers negotiated "when everybody thought it ('76) was going to be the best year on record."
Perhaps the costliest Bicentennial bungle, in many eyes, was the $46-million-and-still rising National Visitor Center, erected at federal expense. The visitor center includes a multiscreen movie theater where images of American national landmarks flash past as a youthful chorus intones "The Star Spangled Banner". It is rare for an audience of more than half a dozen visitors to watch at the same time.
The American Adventure, a private tourist stop originally located at 13th and E Streets NW and now under the same roof with the National Historical Wax Museum at 4th and E Streets SW, offers a multi-madia shromicle of American history that is, in a sense, in competition with the visitor center's film show. "But you wouldn't have to do very much to be in competition with the National Visitor Center," says Cecil Keen, manager of the complex.
The American Adventure and the new Wax Museum opened their dorrs full of Bicentennial optimism. Today, sadder, wiser and sharing overhead, the two operations are trying to prove themselves in post-Bicentennial Washington. Some tourbus operators include the "Gateway Tour Center," as the new facility is called, on their itineraries - but "it's difficult for those of us in the private sector to compete with everything else that's free," Keen concedes.
To reach Washington's full potential as a visitor attraction, the city must "pull visitors out from the Mall into the close-in commercial sections," says John Fondersmith. And "a lot more needs to be done (Signs, maps, etc.) in terms of making the city more understandable."
The city administration sees the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan and the Convention Center as building a "bridge between the Mall and downtown," according to Fondersmith.
In the meantime, there are signs of new vitality in the visitor business here. With the Hyatt Regency Hotel at 400 New Jersey Ave. NW, the Guest Quarters at 2500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW and the projected Four Seasons Hotel at 2800 Pennsylvania, the hotel industry seems to have begun a new cycle of expansion - although older hotels in less favored locations have decayed and closed.
And the hotel association, spurred by New York State's aggressive song-and-dance "I Love New York" appeal, is weighing a nationwide TV campaign built around the slogan, "Why go to the Big Apple when you can go straight to the core?"
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]material that included a political essay on silence, a work that drew the ire of the king of England.
Battestin said that the British government, which confiscated Fielding's manuscript because of its unflattering portrayal of contemporary politicians, went to great lengths to preserve the paper. "Fielding was an incredibly private man," Battestin said. "There are few manuscripts or letters to help us with our work. "I noticed reference in public records to a box of confiscated manuscripts." Battestin said. "I looked through 214 manuscripts, and sure enough, there was a manuscript in Fielding's handwriting," he said.