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Washington in the '80s

It was the decade of Reagan and Barry, the Wall and the Quilt, Go-Go and DC punk, the Air Florida crash and crack, a golden age for local media and sports. Prominent local figures — including Kojo Nnamdi, Joe Gibbs, Maureen Bunyan, Pat Buchanan, and Marion Barry — guide us through the disorderly decade that saw Washington's emergence as a true global capital.


Sat., September 22, 2018
12:00 pm
(60 minutes)

Washington in the '80s  

A look at the 80s, including Mayor Barry and President Reagan, the local music and theater scenes, drugs and violence, and the AIDS epidemic.

Preview: Washington in the '80s

Share Your Memories

Do you remember the decade of Reagan and Barry, the Wall and the Quilt, Go-Go and DC punk, the Air Florida crash and crack, Super Bowl victories and NCAA Final Fours? Share your memories of growing up or living in the Washington, D.C. area during the 1980s.

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How Well Do You Remember DC in the '80s?

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum/White House

Washington, D.C. in the 1980s had it all — big history, big personalities, big social changes and, perhaps most importantly, big hair. But how well do you really know the decade in which our city came into its own?

Take the quiz →

Featured Music

Photo Credit: Boombox by dkshots (, on Flickr

From "Da Butt" and "Pump Me Up" to "Take On Me" and "Livin' On a Prayer," experience the totally awesome mix of tunes featured in Washington in the '80s.

Crank up the boombox →

Relive the '80s on Boundary Stones

Boundary Stones

Get stoked for the premiere of Washington in the '80s by checking out 1980s stories on our Boundary Stones local history blog!

Go to the blog →

Photo Slideshow: Michael Horsley's Washington of the 1980s

Homeless couple at bus stop, 14th and P St. NW, 1986.

From 1984 to 1994 photographer Michael Horsley walked the streets of Washington, D.C., photographing the unseen and vanishing moments in the city. These images were tucked away in his private collection for almost 25 years until he published them on Flickr in 2010. Horsley's Hidden Washington, D.C. collection is a rare neighborhood-oriented photo archive of the nation's capital during the 1980s.

See slideshow and read Q&A with photographer →