While a lot of the National Park system holdings in Washington D.C. are on the National Mall and the Tidal Basin, you will find a site that showcases one of the most important moments in American history if you make your way in a bit towards the center of the city: Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site. It was here at Ford’s Theatre that President Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865. He later died across the street at the Petersen House, which is also part of the historic site. I had the fortune of being able to visit this site a few years ago.
|Entry way to the Petersen House|
The site has a timed entry system so I would recommend getting your reservations in online beforehand. We began our journey below the actual theatre where the National Park Service has a bunch of displays and artifacts set up. Many of the artifacts on display are directly from the event including a few with Lincoln’s blood still on them. The displays are just as interesting and include life sized statues of Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth as well as a multi-story pile of books related to Lincoln (which might have been my favorite part about the entire visit just because of how cool it looked).
Eventually, you can make your way up to the actual theatre, which still does performances today. If no performance is going on you can walk around the place and see the seats where Lincoln was sitting at the time of his assassination. The tour then continues across the street where the Peterson House is located. Here you can see a lot of the rooms still set up as they once were when Lincoln passed away from his wound.
|The box where Lincoln was shot|
Ultimately, you won’t spend much more than an hour here unless you do a full on tour with a ranger. However, the setup is really well choreographed and you feel like you get a wealth of information from each of the three locations of the park. I would also really like to see a play here, but that will have to wait until my next visit.