Washington DC History

Washington: a city of symbols or a symbol of power

Washington is the capital of the USA. This is an axiom known all over the world. But what do we know about this city, besides the fact that the residence of the President of the United States, the White House, is located here? “It turns out not so much! But this is a special city filled with mysticism and its secrets.


Washington (Washington, DC) is the capital of the United States. Administratively, it is the District of Columbia (DC for short). Administratively, since 1871, it has been the same as the District of Columbia. Area 0.2 thousand sq. km. The city is home to 681,170 inhabitants (in 1910 there were 331,000, in 1930 – 482,000 inhabitants), over half of the population are African Americans (in 1930 there were about 30%).

  • AbbreviationFinder: Demonstrates how the two-letter acronym of DC stands for Washington, DC and a list of frequently used abbreviations related to the city of Washington, DC.

History and Geography of Washington D.C.

Just over fifty kilometers separates Washington from the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The city is located in the northeast of the country, covering an area of about 178 km². It is not uncommon to hear that the Potomac River flows within the city (journalists often use the cliché: “power on the Potomac”). In fact, there are as many as three rivers in Washington: there is also Anacostia and Rock Creek.

This surprises many foreigners, but Americans rarely refer to the city as Washington. His “passport name” is District of Columbia. If you shorten it, you get just “DC”, so the Americans, in order not to be confused with the state of the same name, colloquially usually call the city “DC” or “Washington DC” and everyone understands what is at stake.

The clue to this incident lies in the history of the city. At the end of the 18th century, the young country did not have a permanent capital. This role was performed, most often, by Philadelphia, but the times were turbulent, the centers of the Revolutionary War were still smoldering. After another soldier’s rebellion, the congressmen of the young republic, fearing for their lives, fled Philadelphia, but revenge could lie in wait for them in any other major city.

Salvation was the adoption in 1790 of a special ” Act of Residence “, according to which a special territory was formed between the states of Virginia and Maryland, including the already existing cities of Georgetown and Alexandria. A new city should have been built on this territory, where the Congress would be located, and all other branches of American power. They decided to call the territory “District of Columbia”, after the special symbol of the United States – the women of Colombia. Even now everyone can see her image on the famous Columbia Pictures screensaver.

Thus was born the new city of Washington, named after the first American president. It has been the official capital since 1800. In addition to the oddities with the name, the city has many other features. Among them the following can be mentioned:

  • The county is not administratively part of any of the states of the country;
  • The life of the city is controlled not by the municipal council, as in all other cities, but directly by the US Congress. That is, the mayor and the council are elected here, but their decisions are subject to the will of congressmen;
  • Until 1961, city residents could not even participate in the election process;
  • The District of Columbia has no representation in the Senate, has a deputy in the House of Representatives, but he does not have the right to vote there.

Thus, according to the US Constitution, the District of Columbia, as the capital of a federal state, has a special status. It is governed directly by the US Congress and does not have its own government like other states. Although Congress has delegated some of the government powers normally exercised by the state governments to the municipal governments of Washington, it nevertheless retained some of these functions.

The representative from the District of Columbia takes part in the work of the House of Representatives, but he does not have the right to vote. There are no district representatives in the Senate. In the US presidential election, Washington residents have 3 votes, which is more per capita than in 49 states.

Such management features were designed to free the district from the influence of any states, political parties, economic influences. It was supposed to remain a “city of power” in its purest form.

The idea of granting the city all the rights of the state is quite popular among the inhabitants of the city, but the corresponding resolutions are rejected by Congress.

Even its appearance is very different from the traditional image of an American city. Residents of the country say that Washington is the most un-American of all American cities. There are references to the fact that the layout of its streets and main buildings is strongly influenced by Masons, because President Washington himself was a Freemason. In any case, the “Masonic history” of Washington is an interesting phenomenon that can be discussed separately.

The modern face of the US capital. Landmarks of Washington.

Today, Washington is a large city with about 600 thousand people. But its agglomeration, according to the American tradition, is much larger – more than 5 million inhabitants! In addition to the White House, the symbol of American power, the buildings of Congress and the Supreme Court are located here. And also – many other buildings and central offices that affect the life of the entire planet, and not just this country: the Pentagon (Department of Defense), the FBI building, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank. The streets of the city are literally saturated with the aura of American power. No wonder its motto has long been considered the expression: “Justice for all!”

In a small text it is difficult to describe all the interesting objects of Washington that traditionally attract tourists. Of course, these are the main “power buildings” that we have already mentioned, and where people invariably crowd. Along with them, it is interesting to see the following attractions:

  • Washington Memorial. A special granite obelisk, built by analogy with the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria. By the way, before the appearance of the Eiffel Tower, it was considered the highest artificial structure in the world. Its height is 169 meters, and not a single building in the capital can be higher than it. The obelisk, according to many, is also full of Masonic signs and symbols.
  • Lincoln and Jefferson Memorial sites dedicated to the “founding fathers” of America.
  • Arlington Memorial Cemetery. Actually, it is no longer located in the city, but in the state of Virginia, but to get there, it is enough to go along the “bridge of reconciliation” across the Potomac River, from the Lincoln Memorial. This is a place consecrated for all Americans, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located, where all Americans who died in various wars are buried.
  • Kennedy Center for the Arts. A complex consisting of seven theaters and concert halls. About 2,000 concerts and cultural events take place here every year.
  • National Cathedral. Theodore Roosevelt was present at the laying of its first stone. Even now it is the second largest temple in the US. The cathedral has a complicated history: it took 83 years to build, and 20 years after the opening, it was damaged in the 2011 earthquake. It should be borne in mind that, after the Vatican, Washington is the largest world center of Catholicism.
  • Georgetown University. Famous for his scientific achievements, men’s basketball team, famous alumni, including Bill Clinton and 11 other heads of state.

Washington is a very controversial city. Its central parts and suburbs live like different lives. This applies to the economy, culture, even ordinary living conditions. Many outlying districts retain high crime rates, while the center is prim, packed with tourists and government employees.

However, should these differences be surprising? After all, Washington is the capital of the United States, and this country, although it is the most powerful world leader, bears all the signs of our civilization: complex, contradictory, heterogeneous, where wealth coexists with poverty, harmony with chaos, and good with evil.

Washington DC History

Washington DC History
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