Obama Family's First Year: Out on the Town and At Home with the First Couple

Adding it all up, it seems that the Obamas have been bigger homebodies than expected, and they certainly have not taken the D.C. social scene by storm as many were hoping they would. The weekly cocktail parties at the White House have stopped. The presidential box at the Kennedy Center is used most frequently by first grandmother, Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother.

Compared to their predecessors, George W. Bush and Laura Bush, the Obamas are social butterflies.

"It's hard not to compare them to the Bushes because they were here for so long and they were staunch in their desire to not be on the social scene whatsoever," said Sommer Mathis, the editor of DCist.com, a blog dedicated to local news, entertainment and culture in the nation's capital. "They didn't go out at all. They weren't here to make friends."

But Mathis said that even if the first family's appearances out and about in Washington have grown less frequent," seeing the Obamas out in the city, getting burgers, going to restaurants and taking their kids to do charity work -- you see them and that is a big change."

Last year Destination DC, the official convention and tourism corporation for Washington, hoped that the Obama appeal would draw in tourists hoping for a celebrity sighting.

It looks like they were right. While year-end tourism figures for 2009 are not yet available, Destination DC said that international tourism increased in 2009, visits to the Smithsonian museums were up from 2008 and hotel occupancy was relatively flat, which they say is a good thing in the tough economic times.

Officials from the tourism corporation said that many of the restaurant's the Obamas have dined at have seen a bounce in business, sort of like the Oprah effect on books and products.

Nowhere is that more apparent than at Ben's Chili Bowl, where lines snaked down the block for weeks after the president stopped by for lunch. Now the crowds have settled back to the normal size, but there frequently are tourists who drop by just to see the place that Obama put on the map.

Republicans Out, Democrats In -- Is the Nation's Capital a New City?

When Democrats won the White House last year and completed their takeover of the trifecta of power in the nation's capital, there was considerable buzz in Washington about how the city would change.

Out with the Republicans, in with the Democrats. Would the social scene shift away from the Georgetown bars frequented by young Bush administration staffers to watering holes populated by young Democrats on the U Street corridor?

Yes and no. Of course when there is a change of administration, especially a change of party, there is a new feeling in the city, but the great turnover that was expected did not pan out.

Some neighborhoods grew more popular -- and crowded -- as they became inhabited by young Obama administration staffers, but the city was already seeing a boom in development. The newbies in town tended to move into those areas that were on the rise. Republican bars in Georgetown are still hopping.

"The sense that people who don't live here have that a new administration in the White House dramatically changes the city I think is pretty overblown," said Mathis.

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