Abe Stands Tall on Tourist Trail

Don’t stop reading just because the word Washington appears in this post. We’re going to talk about fun things in our nation’s capital (and elsewhere), with no mention of current political issues or individuals.

My tourist tip of the year: take a bike ride during a visit to D.C. My family did just that earlier this month as part of an East Coast vacation. In a three-hour, nighttime guided bike ride, we learned more about and had time to reflect at all of the following: Washington Monument; White House; Lincoln Memorial; Jefferson Memorial; World War II, Korea and Vietnam War memorials; and a few other memorable spots. A little exercise and a lot of history in a short time period.

I come back to see a story on top presidential tourism spots in 2009. Abraham Lincoln leads the way, with Indiana contributing through visitors to one of his boyhood homes. Franklin Roosevelt and our first three presidents (Washington, Adams and Jefferson) were also high on the list. And there’s a few surprises.

Some highlights from the article:

According to figures collected by the National Parks Service , nearly 6.8 million people visited sites associated with Lincoln last year, including his memorial on the National Mall, Ford’s Theatre and childhood homes in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.

In contrast was John F. Kennedy, who falls at the bottom of the list. His Massachusetts home drew only 16,000 visitors last year, mostly nearby residents and students on field trips. It’s only open part of the year and few people know about it, a National Parks Service rep explained. Many Kennedy enthusiasts pay their respects at the Eternal Flame in Arlington National Cemetery, where he rests, or visit the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, his living memorial.

Those and several other popular spots like Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello are not managed by the NPS or included on this list. Among the lesser known entities:

Who knew that 162,000 people visited Herbert Hoover’s home in Iowa last year? That’s just shy of the entire population of Des Moines, Iowa’s largest city. The popularity of the place may have less to do Hoover’s presidency, which was darkened by the Great Depression, and more to do with modern-day marketing. 

The similarly situated James A. Garfield home in Lawnfield, Ohio, drew far fewer people. Just 17,000 people visited the site recently acquired by the National Parks Service, placing it second to last on the list. Though the Civil War general is a local celebrity in this Cleveland suburb, his national status was limited by the short length of his presidency. Garfield was assassinated six months after taking office.

Special programs, especially those timed to historical events, can make or break a site’s popularity. They even gave Lincoln a boost to the top. Though Lincoln has always been a popular draw — 900,000 people visited his memorial in 1936  — tourists flocked to Lincoln sites last year to celebrate his bicentennial.

The Adams family home in Massachusetts also drew relatively large crowds. Some 250,000 people visited the home of John Adams, who was overshadowed in life and in death by other founding fathers.

The Massachusetts birthplaces of both the second president and his son John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, draws many New Englanders interested in the family’s history. Its location just nine miles from Boston and close to beachside vacation homes doesn’t hurt either.

Tourists are willing to go off the beaten path for one particular president, however. Seniors who lived through Roosevelt’s presidency comprise most of the visitors to his home 90 miles north of New York City.

"For so many in the World War II generation, FDR was their only president," the NPS spokesperson said.

10 Presidential Decisions that Changed the World

For those interested in public policy, The Huffington Post offers a quick list of 10 presidential decisions that changed history. See it here.

Many of these are expected, although it’s nice to see the unheralded, mutton chop rocking Chester Arthur receiving some propers, or "mad props" as they said in his day (I’m not the best student of history):

Arthur, an almost-forgotten president, deserves to be remembered for his efforts to sweep graft and corruption out of government service by instituting the first merit-based system for hiring public employees—a system which extends to all levels of government today.

Business Blog: U.S. in No Position for Cap-and-Trade

Brandon Borgna of American Trucking Associations recently posted on BizCentral.org about the challenges that proposed cap-and-trade measures would place at the feet of the American business community. He writes:

Instituting a cap-and-trade program would require Congress to appropriate billions of dollars for the expansion of federal agencies such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in order to handle their expanded responsibilities, according to The Washington Times.
A cap-and-trade scheme would create the nation’s largest commodity market almost overnight, requiring the CFTC and other federal agencies to closely monitor the buying and selling of carbon "allowances," which give companies the right to emit carbon dioxide. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the government’s expansion would cost $8 billion over a 10-year period. For the bill to operate effectively, nearly 1,500 new regulations and mandates would have to be approved for at least 21 federal agencies. The rule-making process alone would take years.
"The problem is that there’s a mismatch between the government’s capacity and its mission," said Darrell M. West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution.
As estimates about the true cost of cap-and-trade continue to rise, Senate Democrats have begun jumping ship on the proposed legislation, news reports say. Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) have urged the Senate to delay legislation that puts caps on greenhouse gas emissions and instead, pass a narrow bill that sets requirements on the use of renewable energy.
It is becoming obvious that the White House’s ambitious agenda is simply too costly to put in place, said the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "At a time when our nation’s leaders are desperately trying to find a way out of this economic quagmire, why would Congress consider a bill that would not only impose a national energy tax on every household and small business in the country, but also further restrict our domestic energy production," the Review-Journal said.

Obama Kicks Off Administration by Dining on Duck from Milford

Inside Indiana Business writes that duck raised right here in Indiana will get the presidential treatment in Washington, D.C. today:

Maple Leaf Farms duck will be the center of the main course for the Inaugural Luncheon, which follows the swearing-in of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. One hundred pounds of boneless duck breasts are being sent to Design Cuisine, an upscale catering company based in Arlington, Virginia.

The luncheon has been a tradition for more than a century. Approximately 200 guests including the new President, Vice President, members of their families, the Supreme Court, Cabinet designees, and members of Congress will attend the event being held in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol building.

The theme of the 2009 Inaugural ceremonies, "A New Birth of Freedom," celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of President (Abraham Lincoln), will be reflected in the luncheon. The menu created by Design Cuisine is based on the historic ties to the Presidency of Lincoln. Growing up in the frontier regions of Kentucky and Indiana, Lincoln favored simple foods including root vegetables and wild game.

 Kudos to Maple Leaf Farms, an Indiana Chamber member, for this prestigious recognition.