Washington, D.C., United State's capital, is located along the eastern seaboard of the continent, between the states of Virginia and Maryland at the junction of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. The city is named for George Washington, military leader of the American Revolution and the first President of the United States. More than 500,000 people occupy Washington, D.C. (the District of Columbia), a federal territory since 1790. The surrounding metropolitan area, which includes 12 counties and 5 cities from Maryland and Virginia, is home to more than five million residents. Washington, the city, and D.C., the district, have the same boundaries, roughly about 67 square miles. Washington, D.C., was established as the seat of the federal government in 1800. Since then, decisions for the future of the nation and even international parts of the globe have been made within its borders.
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately 413 statute miles (665 km) long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 km²). In terms of area, this makes the Potomac River the fourth largest river along the Atlantic coast of the USA and the 21st largest in the USA. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed, where precipitation provides the equivalent of over 8 m³ (more than 2,100 US gallons) of water per person per year.
The White House, the official residence of the president. The oldest public building in Washington, D.C., is also the most famous residence in America. The cornerstone of the “President’s House” as it was originally named was set in place in 1792.George Washington never lived in the White House, serving his two terms as the first president in Philadelphia, while the White House and the Capitol were under construction. The White House has been the home of all American presidents since November 1800 when George Washington’s successor, John Adams moved in it with a prayer “May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” A significant change in recent years was President Bill Clinton’s 1995 decision – for security reasons – to turn Pennsylvania Avenue into a walking Mall in front of the White House. The White House has 132 rooms and 20 bathrooms. The front of the White House The back of the White House The Presidential helicopter landing
At the east end of the mall is Capitol Hill. Jenkins Hill was chosen as the site for the nation’s capitol building. The design featured two identical wings, one for the House of Representatives and one for the Senate, joined by a round, domed center room, called a rotunda. George Washington laid the corner stone for the Capitol with a silver trowel on September 18, 1793. The sculpture “Freedom” on the top of the Capitol dome was put in place in 1830. In 1959 the Capitol was enlarged again. Today the Capitol contains 540 rooms.
Across the street from the Capitol building is the Supreme Court. This is where the laws are interpreted by the judges in the United States. The original Supreme Court is no longer in existence. The justices used to meet in a Washington, D.C., pub. They would sit around and hear arguments and then settle disputes when the need arose. These were during the more informal days of U.S. government. Eventually, someone put in the budget enough money to build a more permanent and dignified monument to the judicial process and it stands proudly and firmly on this site. The summit of the front of the Supreme Court contains a triangular arch depicting a frieze of several judges, under which is engraved the words in bold print: "Equal Justice Under Law."
Right next door to the White House is the United States Department of the Treasury. Today, the Treasury Building, designed by Robert Mills, is one of Pennsylvania Avenue's historic structures. Considered by many to be the most spectacular Greek revival building in the United States, it is surpassed in age only by the White House and the Capitol among the federal buildings that are Washington, D.C., tourist attractions. The US Department of the Treasury is the same building you will find on the back of a ten dollar note which should give it a certain degree of familiarity. Yet, it stands in relative obscurity among the other city buildings nearby.
Another historic treasure is the Post Office Pavilion. Designer Willoughby J. Edbrooke completed the building in the Romanesque Revival style by 1899. Its skyrocketing tower clock remains a current Avenue of Presidents landmark. This building was followed in 1909 by the completion of the District Building. Designed in the Beaux Arts style, the building was constructed to house the District of Columbia government. Still in use by the District's government today, it too remains an Avenue landmark.
The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, named after the 40th president of the United States, is the first federal building in Washington, D.C., designed for both governmental and private sector purposes. Each of the organizations which call this building home are dedicated to international trade and globalization. Organizations headquartered in this building include the U.S. Agency for International Development, Customs and Border Patrol offices of the Department of Homeland Security, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars among others. The building also hosts many conferences and trade shows, cultural events, and outdoor concerts.
Located across the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia, Arlington Cemetery is home to the remains of thousands of military veterans and national figures. Veterans from all the nation's wars are buried here, from the American Revolution through Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Arlington National Cemetery facts sheet, more than 300,000 people are buried here, and approximately 6,400 burials are conducted annually. The Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington Cemetery was dedicated on May 15, 1920, and serves as the nation's official venue for remembrance. About 5,000 visitors attend each of the three major annual memorial services, on Easter, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
The Pentagon is a building in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. It has the offices of the U.S. Department of Defense. The Department of Defense includes the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. The word ‘pentagon’ comes from the Greek ‘penta’, which means ‘five’. A pentagon is a figure with five sides. The Pentagon has five rings. The rings are inside each other. Each ring has five sides. Each ring is five stories tall. The Pentagon is the largest office building in the world. It has seventeen miles of halls. People can get lost in the Pentagon. So the walls on each floor are a different color (brown, green, red, gray, and blue). This helps people to know where they are. There are also many maps in the halls! The Pentagon is so big that it is like a city. Almost 30,000 people work there. The Pentagon has its own doctors, dentists, and nurses. It has its own banks and stores. It has a post office, a fire department, and a police department. It also has an important center for communications. This center guards the country. It is hundreds of feet under the ground. The Pentagon even has its own radio and TV stations. After 11th September
During the War of 1812, the Octagon House in Washington, D.C., served as a temporary residence for President James Madison, after the White House was burned by British soldiers. The Octagon is now a museum devoted to architecture and design.
The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States. Located in Northwest Washington, D.C., it is one of the very few observatories located in an urban area. Established in 1830 as the Depot of Charts and Instruments, it was made into a national observatory in 1842 via a federal law. James Melville Gilliss was put in charge of the project. Today USNO continues to be a major authority in the areas of time-keeping and celestial observation. In collaboration with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, it determines the timing and astronomical data required for accurate navigation and fundamental astronomy, and distributes this information in the Astronomical Almanac. Perhaps it is best known to the general public for its highly accurate ensemble of atomic clocks and its year 2000 Timeball replacement.
The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800. When the Library of Congress building opened its doors to the public on November the first, 1897, it was hailed as a glorious national monument and the largest, the coziest and the safest library building in the world. The Library of Congress is the largest national library in the world. It takes 500 miles of shelves to hold all of the books. Its collection of over 130 million items includes more than 29 million cataloged books and print materials in 460 languages; more than 58 million manuscripts; the most extensive collection of hard-to-find books in North America; and the biggest assembly in the world of audio recordings, films, music scores, maps and legal documents. Reading Room
In addition to the Jefferson Building, the Library has expanded to two more buildings: the John Adams Building and the James Madison Building. Reading Room John Adams Building James Madison Building
The National Cathedral started in 1907 with a ceremonial address by President Theodore Roosevelt. The building of the cathedral, completed in 1990, is the culmination of a two-century-long plan for a majestic Gothic style cathedral. The Cathedral is the sixth largest in the world, second largest in the United States. The top of the tower is the highest point in DC. The building abounds in architectural sculpture, wood carving, leaded glass, mosaics, artistic metal work, and many other works of art, including over 200 stained glass windows. Most of the decorative elements have Christian symbolism or are memorials to famous persons or events. The Cathedral is the burial place of many notable people, including Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller, Admiral George Dewey, Bishop Satterlee and the architects Henry Vaughan and Philip Frohman.
St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., established in 1815, stands opposite the White House on the north side of Lafayette Park. St. John's Church has become known as the "Church of the Presidents." Pew 54 is the traditional President's Pew. Several Presidents have worshiped at this Episcopal Church.
This overhead view of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., shows the Lincoln Memorial at the bottom. In the middle is the Washington Monument with the Capitol Building at the very top. To the right is the Tidal Basin with the Jefferson Memorial at the far right. The origin of the National Mall is as old as the capital city. The open space and parklands envisioned by Pierre L'Enfant's plan create an ideal stage for national expressions of remembrance, observance and protest. About 2,000 American elms line the Mall and 3,000 Japanese cherry trees grace the Tidal Basin. The Mall is home to a number of museums and galleries, including the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum and many of the Smithsonian Institution buildings.
"The Nation's Attic," the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., is the world's largest museum complex and research organization. Composed of 17 museums and the National Zoo in metropolitan Washington, D.C., and two New York facilities, the Smithsonian Institution museums offer visitors a window on its enormous holdings, including in excess of 142 million artifacts. The Smithsonian Institution museum's holdings are so vast that exhibitors display only about 1% or 2% of the collection's holdings at any given time.
When visiting Washington, D.C., check out one of its newest attractions, The International Spy Museum. This Washington, D.C., Spy Museum is the only public museum in the world dedicated to the tradecraft, history, and contemporary role of espionage. The Washington, D.C., Spy Museum offers programs and displays on the vocation of spying, through individuals' recounting of their historic experiences, implements and methods. Displays present the world's largest public collection of spying artifacts. These artifacts, combined with historic photographs, state-of-the-art audio visual programs, computer interactive displays and special effects, reveal the strategies and techniques of the people who undertook some of the most dangerous and covert missions in the history of mankind. Spies School
One of the newest D.C. sightseeing destinations, The Holocaust Museum is the United States' national institution for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as the national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The experience of visiting the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington, D.C., was designed to be intensely moving. Everything down to the architectural details was created to evoke emotion. The outside of the building is meant to resemble a German industrial plant. Inside, James Freed's design seems flawed: rooms do not always have right angles, and the windows are different sizes. The cracked floor, the uneven bricks used in construction, and variations in the color were all utilized to create the feel of a world gone mad, as in Nazi Germany.
The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., has an extensive collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century American art. The Corcoran Gallery of Art also has a fine collection of European art. Mrs Henry White
The National Theatre is located in Washington, D.C., and is a venue for a variety of live stage productions with seating for 1,676. Founded in 1835, the theater has always been at the same Pennsylvania Avenue location, a few blocks from the White House. Like many theaters in the U.S. prior to the civil rights movement, the National Theatre was racially segregated. Instead of desegregating, the National Theatre closed in 1948. It didn't reopen as an integrated theater until 1952. Today the National Theatre mostly hosts traveling Broadway musicals. It is managed by the non-profit Schubert Organization which also runs 16 Broadway theatres.
Another national theatre D.C. offers downtown - also well reputed amongst Washington, D.C., theatres - is Ford's Theatre. The theater became well known when it became the site of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. After being shot, he was carried across the street to the Petersen House where he died the next morning. The theater and house are preserved together as Ford's Theatre National Historic Site. A living monument to Abraham Lincoln's memory, Ford's Theatre offers plays and musicals that support the messages of family, multiculturalism, and the mosaic composition of American culture.
Lincoln Theatre is located on "Washington's Black Broadway", served the city's African American community when segregation kept them out of other venues. The Lincoln Theatre included a movie house and ballroom, and hosted jazz and big band performers. Performers have included Duke Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Billie Holliday, and Vaughn. The theatre was designed by Reginald Geare, in collaboration with Harry Crandall, a local theater operator. The theatre closed after the 1968 race-related riots. It was restored and reopened in 1994, and hosts a variety of performances and events.
Another major theater in Washington, D.C., is Arena Stage. The primary mission of Arena Stage is to create performances that exhibit the wild, deep, and passionate side of the American spirit. Arena has vastly talented resources, and can produce a wide range of projects, from huge epics to intense drama. They focus on themes of the Americas, when choosing their classic productions and play premieres.
The Warner Theatre opened in 1924, it received acclaim as an extremely beautiful building, featuring a stupendous lobby of gold leaf and marble, and a similar huge theatre with glorious chandeliers. Currently, having just been restored at great expense, the Warner presents dance, film, comedy, Broadway productions and music concerts.
The Studio Theatre, founded in 1978, is the third largest producing theatre in Washington DC, recognized as a Major Cultural Institution in the nation's capital. The Studio is Washington's premiere stage for the best in contemporary theatre.
The newest among Washington DC theaters is the Smithsonian Discovery Theater, dedicated to offering the best in live performing arts for young people. Each season more than a dozen productions feature storytelling, puppetry, acting and dancing, music and mimicry, in well-known children's stories and folk tales from around the globe innovatively presented. There truly is something here for everyone!
There are many fabulous performance venues in Washington, D.C., but perhaps the most significant is the Kennedy Center. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America's National Cultural Center. In its 30th year, the Kennedy Center continues to fulfill Kennedy's vision, presenting the greatest performers and performances from across America and around the world, nurturing new works and young artists, and serving the nation as a leader in arts education. Artistic Director Placido Domingo's guidance has elevated the Washington Opera to world-class prominence, regularly selling out the Kennedy Center Opera House.
Unions Station is a train station with stores, restaurants, food court and movie theaters. With a Metro subway station in the building and a location near the National Mall, it has over 29 visitor a year.
Pennsylvania Avenue is among the world's most famous streets, containing several of the must-see Washington DC tourist attractions. The avenue runs for seven miles inside Washington, but the stretch from the White House to the United States Capitol building is considered the most important - effectively the heart of the city. Throughout history, Americans have gathered to rally, protest and parade on the Avenue, and can always be found opinionating in Lafayette Park, also known as "Presidents Park". It is no wonder that Pennsylvania Avenue is called the "Avenue of Presidents" and "America's Main Street," becoming one of the most popular Washington DC tourist attractions.
The Seventh Street District, the downtown area surrounding the Washington Convention Center and the Verizon sports complex, is also known as the Washington, D.C., Chinatown and shopping district. Here you will find everything from fine Washington, D.C., restaurants serving Chinese and diverse ethnic cuisines, to great museums and theaters and movie houses. Close by is the recently developed Verizon Center, where D.C.'s basketball and hockey teams, the Wizards and the Capitals, host their home games. Here, also, concert fans convene for major tours, spilling over into several breweries, restaurants and sports bars that have developed in the area.
Eastern Market was built in 1873. It is located in the historic Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C., one of the most interesting historic districts in the world. For over one hundred years, hunger shoppers have been coming to the Eastern Market for fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods and meats. Visitors especially enjoy browsing through the flea markets, listening to first class stage shows at the performing arts centers and shopping for gifts and ornaments at the local arts and crafts stalls.
Lafayette Park in Washington DC is a seven acre public park located directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park Washington, D.C., is a great place to explore, find and learn about diverse and exotic creatures, whether giant giraffes or miniscule leaf-cutter ants. The animal youngsters at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park are irresistible and entertaining. The Smithsonian National Zoological Park was founded in 1889. Its mission is to study, celebrate, and protect the diversity of animals and their habitats. About 2,400 individuals of 400 different species are in the animal collection. The Zoological Park's principle purpose was not to amuse people, but to save endangered animals native to the United States. The animals at the Zoo reminded visitors of the tragically diminishing American Wilderness.
The Washington, D.C., Metro Subway is modern, clean and the recommended way for tourists to get around. The 106 mile subway system with 86 stations has stations serving the Mall and downtown Washington, D.C. All the major tourist attractions like the Mall museums and memorials, White House and Capitol Building are a short walk from Metro stations. Buying that first Metro subway ticket from a fare machine can be confusing.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual welcoming of spring, in celebration of Tokyo Japan's gift of 3000 cherry trees, presented as a gesture of friendship, to the people of Washington, D.C., in 1912. The first Cherry Blossom Festival took place in 1935 and has grown through the years to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors. For two weeks in early spring, the nation's capital embraces this vibrant festival, consisting of gala events, family oriented fun, sporting and art competitions, cultural presentations and much more. The National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the beauty of nature and the beauty of cultural respect and understanding.