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Exploring The Title Basin

Wondering what to do during your stay in the nation's capital? Here is an overview of some activities The Title Basin offers so you can make the most out of your time in Washington DC!

One of the best kept secrets in Washington DC is the lush path around the Tidal Basin- a 2.1-mile loop open 24/7. Few visitors realize they can walk entirely around the Tidal Basin. Even fewer visitors realize how the Tidal Basin came to be.

First, The Tidal Basin is not natural at all. The idea for the Tidal Basin came from the need to control tidal flooding around the Potomac River and the nearby Washington Channel. The Tidal Basin - not to be confused with the Reflecting Pool near the Lincoln Memorial - is a man-made lake directly south of the White House. The sparkling Tidal Basin replaced miserable acres of mud flats caused in the 1800’s by industrial over-building behind the White House.

The Tidal Basin was dug in early 1900’s by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It incorporates un-manned flow mechanisms – that look like gates. These gates allow tidal water from the Potomac River into the lake at high tide, then at low tide they allow the tidal water to escape back into the river. All this without much human input at all- it’s all natura! It happens twice daily and controls tidal overflow.

Beyond the engineering cleverness, the Tidal Basin area has become a world-famous garden of Cherry Trees. There are over 2500 ornamental Yoshinko Cherry trees growing in the Tidal Basin- East Potomac Park area. The original trees were a gift from Japan planted in 1912. Every year in mid Spring they burst into clouds of fluffy pink-white blossoms. Some of the original trees are visible near the stunning Martin Luther King Memorial- you’ll be able to spot these oldsters right away- they look like gnarled gnomes draped in blankets flowers.

Another attraction on the path around the Tidal Basin near the Martin Luther King, Jr, Memorial is the 4-acre Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial that dedicates one acre to each of Roosevelt’s 4 terms of office.

And then there’s the heart-stopping Jefferson Memorial- sited on a peninsula in the Tidal Basin! Don’t miss the view of the White House from the steps of Jefferson. Roosevelt deliberately sited the Jefferson Memorial exactly as it is today so that he could watch its construction from the White House.

At one point you’ll find yourself on a charming arched bridge which is inscribed with “1908” (the year it was built). At that point you will be standing OVER the gate mechanism that controls tidal flooding. Look to one side from the bridge and you’ll see the Potomac River with the Pentagon in the distance. Look to the other side and you’ll see the picture postcard view of the Tidal Basin with the Jefferson Memorial reflected in the water.

Oh – and seasonally there are paddle boats for hire! Hard to say how long it will take your group to walk this picturesque loop- you’ll be stopping over and over for unforgettable shots of only-in-DC vistas!



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