The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is housed in a nineteenth-century Federal-style house built on the crest of a wooded valley in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. The name combines a reference to the original great oaks on the site, several of which are still standing, with the eighteenth-century name "Dumbarton, taken from the Rock of Dumbarton in Scotland. The property had been acquired by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss in 1920. Twenty years later, they conveyed the house, gardens, and their collections to Harvard University. The institution now has important research resources in the areas of Byzantine studies, the history of landscape architecture, and Pre-Columbian studies. The collections of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art and the rare books and prints relating to the gardens are on public display. The gardens were designed by the noted landscape gardener Beatrix Jones Farrand and are open to the public.
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city was built from scratch, Washington's
regular town plan is easy to grasp. Centered
on Capitol Hill and its governmental
monoliths, the District is divided into four
quadrants - northeast, northwest, southeast
and southwest. Dozens of broad avenues , all
named after states, run diagonally across a
standard grid of streets , meeting up at
monumental traffic circles like Dupont
Circle. North-south streets are numbered,
east-west ones are lettered. There's no J
Street, an intentional slight to early
Supreme Court Justice John Jay, or X, Y or Z
Street. I Street is often written Eye
Street. Be sure to note the relevant
two-letter code in any address (NW, NE, SW,
SE), which shows its quadrant; 1600
Pennsylvania Ave NW is a long way from 1600
Pennsylvania Ave SE.
Once in the
city, stop at the
DC Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center ,
Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania
Ave NW (Mon-Sat 8am-6pm, Sun noon-5pm; tel
202/328-4748), which can help with maps,
tours, bookings and citywide information.
Look for visitor information desks at the
airports and Union Station.
The White House Visitor Information Center
, 1450 Pennsylvania Ave NW (daily
7.30am-4pm; tel 202/208-1631), supplies free
maps and handy guides to museums and
attractions; the most useful is the free
Washington DC Visitors Guide .