WASHINGTON -- It's hard to miss the "big chair" in Anacostia. Standing at 20 feet, it towers over the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Ave and V Street SE, and has become an icon of the area. But do you know the whole story? That's what we seek to answer in the latest edition of "The Why."
Our Question: Why is there a big chair in Anacostia?
The story begins in 1959, when a company called Bassett Furniture Industries made the gigantic chair for a local company called the Curtis Bros Furniture Company, located in Anacostia. The chair served as a novel piece of advertising.
Specifically, it was a model of a Duncan Phyfe dining room chair, made of African Mahogany. It was 19.5 feet tall, and 4,600 pounds. It was labeled as the largest chair in the world.
But the story gets even crazier!
The company decided it would be a unique piece of advertising, to have someone live up on top of the chair in a glass cube. They hired a glass-maker to build a 10 by 10 glass house, equipped with curtains, a bed, a shower, a toilet, and a television. This cube also had three transparent sides, making the occupant visible to passerbys.
The company then looked for someone willing to live inside. Eventually they found a 19-year-old named Rebecca Kirby. She was a model, who went by the name Lynn Arnold. On August 13, 1960, a forklift raised her up. Advertisements called her Alice in "The Looking Glass House."
Kirby stayed up in that glass cube for 42 days, before she got homesick and "groundsick," and decided to come back down. For her troubles, she received approximately $1,500, and became a legend in DC advertising.
These days, a replica of the chair can be found in Anacostia. That's because in 2005, the original chair was removed, because it was deteriorating. The new chair is still close to 20 feet tall, but is no longer African Mahogany. The chair is now made of aluminum, so it can hopefully last the test of time.
Do you have a why question, you want us to answer? Contact reporter Evan Koslof on Twitter at @ekoslof, on Facebook at "Evan Koslof Reporting," or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org