If only every correction were as painless as this one -- mainly because the error involves someone who died on May 30, 1887, and can't sue or otherwise raise much Cain. Yesterday's column referred to an antiquarian book called "Perley's Reminiscences of 60 Years in the National Metropolis," and then went on to misstate the author's full name. It was Ben: Perley Poore (he always used a colon to shorten his full first name). Metro Scene, alas, called him Moore.
Most of today's paper deals with events of yesterday, but Metro Scene sometimes enjoys dealing with yesteryear. In this case the year is 1887, 98 years in the past, and we're treated -- courtesy of Davis Memorial Goodwill Industries -- to a glimpse of Washington when Grover Cleveland occupied the White House.
Promoting its annual book sale at the Washington Convention Center, starting daily at 10 a.m. today through Wednesday, Goodwill tempted me with a vintage book, "Perley's Reminiscences of 60 Years in the National Metropolis," by Ben: Perley Moore. A newspaper correspondent turned congressional functionary, Moore described the years from Andrew Jackson to Cleveland.
"The progress of Washington City (as the capital was usually called) during the past 60 years -- 1827-87 -- has been phenomenal. The (nation), then 24 states . . . now number 38, bound together by iron bands (of railroads) . . . .
"In 1827, the population of the entire District of Columbia was less than 75,000, of whom 61,000 were inhabitants of the city of Washington (south of today's Florida Avenue and east of Rock Creek); now the population of the District is 203,000, and that of Washington is about 150,000. The increase of wealth has been even greater . . . .
"Then (in 1827) there was not a paved street, and it was often difficult to extricate carriages from mudholes in the principal thoroughfares; now there are many miles of stone and asphalt street pavements, shaded by thousands of forest trees . . . .
"Then there were no public schools for white children that amounted to much, and it was forbidden by law to teach colored children; now there are scores of schools, with . . . 26,696 (white) . . . and 11,640 (black) . . . pupils . . . .
"The streets, then dark at night when the moon did not shine, are now illuminated by electricity and gas. The public reservations are ornamented with shrubs and flowers, while numerous statues of the heroes and the statesmen of the country are to be seen . . . .
"Washington, from a new settlement of provincial insignificance, has become the scientific and literary as well as the political capital of the country," even if it is "unfitted . . . for either commerce or manufactures."
Well, the mudholes are largely gone, replaced by potholes, and the demographics and Washington's commercial status have changed. And statues? We've added a lot since 1887.
The Goodwill book sale has thousands of books on countless subjects. And, not believing in freebies, Metro Scene is sending along a check so I can read "Perley's Reminiscences" with a clear conscience.