In the 1860s, the White House wasn’t the regal residence it is today.
When the windows were open in warm weather, insects buzzed around the rooms and divebombed into the window panes.
The first family and anyone who visited them could smell the stench of the Washington Canal, just south of the mansion. John Hay, one of the president’s secretaries, compared the odor to 20,000 drowned cats.
Actually, drowned cats, livestock and the occasional human body did float down the canal, along with much of the capital city’s garbage.
The canal was later filled in and paved over, section by section. Constitution Avenue and Washington Avenue now lead cars where boats once traveled.