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The Parking Garage Where Deep Throat Spilled the Beans on Watergate Is Being Torn Down

Demolition is scheduled for early this year

A plaque outside of the Rosslyn, VA garage where the informant code-named "Deep Throat" met with journalist Bob Woodward during the Watergate investigation. (Ron Cogswell via Flickr)
smithsonian.com

For decades, as far as most people knew the parking lot beneath the Oakhill Office Building in Rosslyn, Virginia, was just another parking lot. It was unobtrusive, secluded and easy to get in and out of—making it the perfect place for reporter Bob Woodward to meet his secretive government informant, code-named “Deep Throat.” Now, 44 years after their first meeting regarding Watergate, the garage is slated for demolition in the next few months.

Since Woodward and his reporting partner Carl Bernstein published a blow-by-blow of their historic Watergate investigation as All The President’s Men, one of the most intriguing parts of their story was Woodward’s six meetings with Deep Throat. From October 1972 to November 1973, the two men met several times under a strict veil of secrecy, using codes and signals to protect the source’s identity. While Woodward described their meeting place as a garage in Arlington, he refused to give any other details about the site for years – until former top FBI agent Mark Felt revealed his secret identity to the world, Nash Jenkins wrote for TIME.

After Felt announced his identity in 2005, Woodward finally admitted to the location of their meetings, turning the humble parking garage in Rosslyn into a venerated part of American political history. The garage quickly became a popular tourist destination and in 2011 a historical marker was installed outside to mark its historical significance, according to Atlas Obscura. Unfortunately for history buffs, the famous garage won’t be there much longer.

Back in 2014, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously in favor of a developer’s plan to tear down the existing office building and replace it with an apartment complex. According to the plans, demolition of the building and the garage is scheduled for early this year, Kris Maher reported for the Wall Street Journal.

To be fair, one of the reasons that Woodward and Felt chose the parking lot for their furtive meetings was that it was out of the way and not a great place for people to hang out. A dark parking garage in what was then a somewhat seedy place across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., was a perfect place to meet without being noticed, Jenkins writes—after all, before Watergate, who would expect a reporter and a top FBI agent to talk politics in a parking garage?

Luckily, the demolition of the garage doesn’t mean that the site will fade from memory. While the plaque commemorating Felt and Woodward’s meetings will likely be moved during the new building’s construction, the developer and members of the Arlington County Board say it will be returned once the new site is completed. In addition, Maher reports that the site’s significance to Watergate would be marked with new public space.

"The Rosslyn of the '70s allowed street-level garage walls and was, in fact, not a very nice place for people,” Mary Hynes, the vice president of the Board told Maher in 2014. “So we will mark the historic nature of the site while creating a fabulous new plaza where people will gather."

The parking garage may disappear, but Deep Throat’s brave stand against political machinations will not be forgotten anytime soon.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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