D.C. has a heart

Happy Valentine’s Day!

D.C. may sometimes seem soulless, but we know it has a heart – we see the hearts everywhere.

In the first snow of 2019, a romantic man created a heart on the Mall.

The most photographed hearts in D.C. are undoubtedly from this mural at Union Market, providing the backdrop for thousands of selfies. French street artist Mr. Brainwash was commissioned by The Girls Lounge to create a mural to serve as inspiration for female education. Michelle Obama added instant fame to the mural when she met Mr. Brainwash there for the unveiling, to celebrate International Woman’s Day in 2016. The mural has faded and suffered some defacement since then, but remains iconic.

Heart fact: The heart shape we think of doesn’t look all that much like a human heart; it looks more like a bird or reptile heart. Medical illustrator Carlos Machado thinks this is because the Medieval study of anatomy was based on animal dissections, as the Catholic Church at the time objected to experiments on human corpses.

Cupid’s Undie Run, a charity run to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation, is always full of hearts.

Heart faces can also frequently be found at the Pride Festival.

For a larger-than-life heart, artist Jim Webb created cutouts that people could pick up and use for shadow play in front of a five-story blank wall in Shaw, during the Art All Night festival.

For a very sweet heart, check out this heart that folk artist Ulysses Davis carved for his wife, in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It’s a hart within a heart, with an edging of hearts and the wonderful museum lighting creating heart shadows.

Hearts are a frequently found on signs at demonstrations. Here’s a sign with nothing but a heart, on the very crowded Metro escalator coming to the first Women’s March.

Two dogs spread the love at the second Women’s March.

Heart facts: It comes as no surprise that the dog is the animal with the largest heart for its body mass. Meanwhile, the award for the smallest animal heart goes to the .006-inch long fairyfly — seeing its heart requires a microscope.

You can even spot hearts in abandoned buildings, like this heart in the window of the old Bond Bread Factory on Georgia Avenue, soon to be redeveloped by Howard University.

Candy fact: The first heart-shaped box of chocolate was introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868. And we are all immensely saddened that the Sweetheart candy hearts with the imprinted sayings are no more, as parent company Necco has gone out of business after making these hearts for more than 100 years. That’s 13 million pounds of candy that will be missing from Valentine’s Day (although you can still find some on the black market, and if you have old ones, they last intact for years and years). Spangler Candy has bought the remains of Necco and hopes to revive the heart candies by next Valentine’s Day, but isn’t making any promises. [Note that Brach’s makes fairly similar candy hearts, but to Sweetheart purists, they are not at all the same.]

To find out more about the origins of the heart symbol, this short video illustrates how we got there from our decidedly not heart-shaped actual hearts.

Wishing you a heart-filled Valentine’s Day no matter the shape of your heart or the candy you prefer.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *