Very sneaky, Boston. Here in D.C., we are a lot more obvious (ahem, less creative?) about where our time capsules are buried. In classic political fashion, there’s usually a burial ceremony, with plenty of public attention. But after a few years, the capsules are easy to forget about. Even the National Archives couldn’t immediately tell us where the popular time capsule created in 2000 for the new millennium is actually located. But maybe that’s the point. When the capsules are finally opened, it makes for a bigger reveal.
“It just gives you chills, chills to know that you’re touching something that someone else was so careful to put together 100 years ago,” said Thomasina W. Yearwood, who, as president of the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage, got to open a time capsule in 2009 that had been dedicated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years earlier. Then, a capsule containing items from 2009 was buried there.
Here are a few of the historic time capsules around the city:
Under Freedom Plaza (Pennsylvania Avenue between 13 and 14th Streets NW)
In 1988, Western Plaza became Freedom Plaza in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech. Fittingly, a time capsule in his memory was buried underneath it. When it is opened in 2088, historians will find King’s bible, a robe he wore to preach in and audio recordings of some of his speeches.
In the cornerstone of the Supreme Court Building
After his presidency, William Howard Taft served as a Supreme Court justice. It was Taft who convinced Congress to build the Supreme Court a permanent home, but he didn’t live to see the building completed. So in 1932, when Chief Justice Evan Hughes dedicated the new building, a photo of Taft was placed in its cornerstone. Also inside: copies of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, photos of the Supreme Court justices of that time and a report from the American Bar Association.
Beneath the Holocaust Museum
During the construction of the Holocaust Museum in 1990, two large metal milk cans were buried beneath the Hall of Remembrance. Each one contained a “pledge of remembrance” signed by Holocaust Survivors. The museum was dedicated in April of 1993.
At the 40-yard line of FedEx Field
Before Dan Snyder, there was Jack Kent Cooke, who became the majority owner of the Redskins in 1974. Shortly after Cooke’s death, the stadium he had sought to build was opened as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. A bricklayer at the construction site reportedly buried three newspapers announcing the owner’s death inside cinder blocks that became part of the structure near the 40-yard line. The name of the stadium was changed to FedEx Field in 1999.
On the grounds of the White House
President George H.W. Bush celebrated the executive mansion’s 200th birthday in 1992 with the burial of a time capsule containing paint chips from a White House restoration, seeds from a magnolia tree and a copy of “Millie’s Book,” which was written by Barbara Bush in the voice of the family’s English Springier Spaniel, Millie.
Below the Treasury Building
Under the cornerstone of the Treasury Building lies a satin-lined case, in which President Andrew Jackson placed an item that motivated him to say, “I am placing a part of my heart in this building.” It was a lock of his granddaughter’s hair.
The Millennium Time Capsule
It turns out that the time capsule commissioned by the Clintons for the new millennium isn’t actually buried. It’s housed in a National Archives research and storage building in College Park, where it will stay until it is to be opened in the year 2100. Inside: a cellphone, Hawaiian flag, a photo of Rosa Parks, images of Earth from space, Ray Charles’s sunglasses, a recording of Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet and a piece of the Berlin Wall. There was supposed to be two Twinkies, but historians decided that they might attract insects. The National Archives confirmed Thursday that the Twinkies were instead eaten by millennium council staffers.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the timeline of the construction of the Holocaust Museum, and the burial there of two large metal milk cans. This version has been updated.