For local viewers hooked on House of Cards, part of the fun of watching uber-power couple Frank and Claire Underwood in action has been spotting the Washington locations both stately and shadowy that serve as the backdrop to their climb to the White House. If the motivations and deviations in the plots of the binge-worthy Netflix series sometimes swerve beyond belief, the settings provide a geographic grounding in reality (at least when Baltimore isn’t playing stand-in for Washington).
Join local historian Kathleen Bashian for a walking tour that covers a wide variety of Washington locations against which the Underwoods’ scheming, affairs of state, and affairs of a different kind play out. Along the way, she offers insights into the history and background of the locations in House of Cards to better appreciate some of the show’s memorable moments, and how their astute selection enhances the impact of its storylines and characters.
Bashian identifies the places in the ominous and oddly beautiful title sequence, from the well-known to the more obscure, with several, including the Capitol, Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, and the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial on the itinerary. Stop at the FBI Building, the Justice Department (headquarters for Solicitor General Heather Dunbar), and recall the assassination attempt on Underwood at the memorial to James Garfield, a president who was less fortunate in his own confrontation with a gunman. The power of political lobbyists and the press get a nod at the Podesta Group building and on downtown’s former Newspaper Row, where the 19th-century namesake of the fictional Washington Herald once had its offices. And of course, the White House is one of the stops. The tour ends with the ultimate political fiction-and-reality mashup, a viewing of Frank Underwood’s presidential portrait (or is it Kevin Spacey’s?) at the National Portrait Gallery.
Although Frank’s favorite local spot for ribs, Freddy’s BBQ Joint, is simply an exterior on a Baltimore street, join fellow House of Cards fans to talk about the series over lunch at Hill Country Barbeque Market, a place where the food is deliciously real—and that’s a lot closer to the real White House.
Meet at the fountain on the West Front of Capitol (the location where presidential inaugurations take place); the tour concludes at Hill Country Barbeque Market.
The tour includes lunch.
Limited to 30 participants.
Wear comfortable shoes. The tour covers around 2 miles.