Deep Throat's Parking Garage to Be Demolished

| Tue Aug. 27, 2013 8:12 AM PDT
Parking space 32D, where Woodward met Deep Throat

As historic landmarks go, the parking garage at 1401 Wilson Blvd, in Arlington, Va., just outside DC isn't much to look at. But parking space 32D helped in its own way to bring down a president. The parking space is the famous meeting spot of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and W. Mark Felt, better known as "Deep Throat" and Woodward's source for the scoops on the Watergate burglary that eventually forced President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974. But as with so many historic landmarks, nothing in this country is sacred. The parking space is on the verge of obliteration. 

A developer is planning to raze the 50-year-old office building above the garage and replace it with—what else?—swanky new condos. Tim Helmig, vice president of Monday Properties, recognizes the historic import of the parking garage and plans to commemorate it with a plaque or something miniscule after 32D falls to the wrecking ball. But he told the Washington Business Journal that the garage has got to go, saying, "The garage is at the end of its useful life, and with the redevelopment the configuration of the garage itself is going to change."

That's the trouble with many of the Watergate landmarks. The critical moments in the greatest political scandal in modern American history took place in some of the most mundane locations. When members of Nixon's reelection campaign watched as the burglars broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate, for instance, they conducted their stakeout from Room 723 in the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge across the street. (The famous "plumbers' unit" also had a room at the hotel a few floors down, where they listened to wiretaps from the bug placed in the DNC offices.) The hotel preserved the famous room and opened it to guests making Watergate pilgrimages. But in 1999, George Washington University bought the HoJos and turned it into student housing. Today, Room 723 is just another college dorm room. But at least it's still there.

The parking garage demolition will wipe a famous site off the map, and given that this is part of Washington political history, the demo may not go off without a fight. Washington has an earnest core of history preservation activists, who've attempted to preserve all sorts of abominations for the sake of posterity. (See this "new brutalist" church, for instance.) By comparison, parking space 32D seems worth saving.

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