Chances are if you’re reading this post you spent a good part of your long weekend binge-watching House of Cards Season 2. Those of you who have been sucked into Netflix’s Emmy-award-winning political thriller know the simple truth: It’s the Underwoods’ world and we’re just living in it.
Location manager Patrick Burn did a wonderful job of capturing Washington’s well-known landmarks and neighborhoods, while shooting almost exclusively in nearby Baltimore due to its tax incentives. He told Variety, “I scouted all over DC to see what we needed, and then we created our own DC in Baltimore.”
In fact, the viewers’ only glimpse of the real DC is mostly relegated to the show’s opening sequence, which features the White House as well as North Capitol Street and Nationals Park. Ironically, when Frank Underwood takes the mound it’s at the Baltimore Orioles’ Camden Yards. Wait – you haven’t watched that far yet? We promise no more “spoilers.”
Since all of this drama and deception takes place in Travel Channel’s own backyard, we couldn’t help but wonder which real destinations could have inspired the DC you see in House of Cards.
The Underwood Residence: When we picture Francis and Claire at home, we see them sharing a cigarette at the windowsill of a modestly-sized, but stylish Capitol Hill brownstone (likely with a million-dollar-plus price tag).
Zoe’s Apartment: DC has a number of budding, “up-and-coming” neighborhoods in which Zoe could have lived. However, our best bet is that her place was a studio apartment sandwiched between a pizza parlor and liquor store somewhere in Adam’s Morgan. Sadly, all too many of us with cramped studios and half-empty fridges feel Zoe’s pain: “It just felt so small – like I didn’t really live there.”
The National Center for Performing Arts: Zoe first captures Frank’s attention at “The National Center for Performing Arts” — one of House of Cards’ few obvious missteps. The event would have likely taken place at the Kennedy Center – as the National Center for the Performing Arts doesn’t exist.
The Washington Herald: The paper of record in the capitol would be considered the Washington Post – now located on 15th Street in the heart of downtown DC. However, the Washington Herald existed in Washington from 1906 – 1939.
The District Grand Hotel: When it comes to DC — there are a plethora of sexy, upscale hotels that cater to a certain scenario, but we’ll state the obvious (thank you, Elliot Spitzer). When Lucas tries wooing information about Rachel from a fellow prostitute, the richness of the warm woods and soft lighting seem to be channeling the Mayflower Hotel’s bar.
Slugline: While Zoe calls Slugline “the next Politco,” we think its modern offices and beanbag chairs draw more influence from the slick offices of some of DC’s hottest tech startups, such as and nclud.
Side note: Washingtonians probably also shuddered at Frank and Zoe’s clandestine meeting at the non-existent “Cathedral Heights” Metro station in Season 2 for more reasons than one.
Claire’s Running Path: While the rolling blacktop the Underwoods run together proves harder to place – and is not immediately recognizable as the popular Rock Creek Park trails — the brick archway and cemetery Claire found solace in during the first season is vaguely reminiscent of Dumbarton Oaks/Montrose Park and nearby Oak Hill Cemetery to anyone who has run down R Street NW.
Freddy’s BBQ Joint: Perhaps the biggest blow to House of Cards fans is that Freddy’s doesn’t exist anywhere in the DC-metro area. Our first guess was Levi’s Port Café along the Capitol Riverfront, which has since closed. But Southern transplants like Frank will be relieved to hear that Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish – whose “fall off the bone delicious” ribs served out of an old school bus parked along Rhode Island Ave NE — could do Freddy proud.
Georgetown Restaurant: The restaurant in which Rachel briefly works as a waitress had us scratching our heads – namely because it seemed much larger than most Georgetown establishments. However, it did conjure up images of the rich oak bar and white-washed brick walls of legendary M-Street saloon, Clydes.
Agree with our picks? Disagree? Have ideas about Peter Russo’s building, Doug Stamper’s diner of choice, or the Clean Water Initiative offices? Tell us in the comments.
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