As someone who viewed the Washington Post building on Fifteenth Street as an icon; a big square solid representation of a part of Washington, I was stunned a few weeks ago when I learned that it was for sale. As a business woman, as someone who had a large business in downtown Washington, I was shaken.
Of course, I understood. I understand when a business person has to make difficult decisions so even while I understood, i just didn’t want to accept the idea. Well, I just had to — not only accept it — but think about the changes it represented as well as offered.
First, I just had to accept it. Actually, it wasn’t really the building; it was the idea. The building only represented all of the activities and people who inhabited it. I understood that when the Capital Centre was imploded. When people asked me how I felt about that, I said, “It was just bricks and mortar. What I would miss was all the wonderful events that appeared there and all the spectacular people who entertained there and the people who worked there to make it happen.”
So, that’s how I feel about the Washington Post building. How I loved going there the times that I went there for one reason or another and how exciting to just walk in the door, bump into people I knew, get in the elevator and think about what I was planning to talk about. For me, it was the very heart of Washington.
It was Washington and was about Washington; and all sides of Washington. The national, international Washington and the local Washington. And, I think it represented a particular time in Washington. Washington has changed; it is no longer on one level — a small town where the business community was small enough that they all knew each other. Kay Graham regularly entertained these people; they were her advertisers. She was from Washington and so were we. She really cared about the city as did Abe and I.
We felt a close tie, as she did, to her readers and us, to the fans.
It will be interesting to see how Jeff Bezos sees the Washington community. On the one hand, I think it will be good to bring a fresh look from an outsider.
But what will be the trade-off? I am eager to see the direction he will take “our Washington Post.”