Designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti in 1962, this distinctive five-building apartment and business complex beside the Potomac River was home to the political scandal that caused the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. However, as this tall, modern compound was partially funded by the Vatican, approved by the nation’s first Catholic president (John F. Kennedy), and thought to mar the city’s elegant riverfront, Watergate had been controversial for years before this scandal ever happened.
The scandal, though, made Watergate a household name. In 1972, high-level officials from the Nixon administration were sent to headquarters of the Democratic National Committee –then located on the sixth floor of the Watergate Hotel and Office Building – to burglarize the office, photograph documents and tap the phones. A subsequent investigation by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post revealed the break-in, and in 1974, Richard Nixon was forced to step down as president.
The Watergate Complex remains a series of expensive apartments and offices, but the Watergate Hotel has been closed for renovations since 2010. There isn’t much diversion here for visitors, but set near Georgetown and the Kennedy Center, it makes an easy stop on a visit to those areas or on a walk along the Potomac around Foggy Bottom.