Washington Monument, White House, and Lincoln Memorial are famous throughout the world as icons of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation.
D.C. shed its former reputation as a boring and dangerous city and it now has shopping, dining, and nightlife befitting a world-class metropolis. Travellers will find the city to be exciting, cosmopolitan, and international.
Washington, D.C., is a city borne of politics, by politics, and for politics. It wasn’t the first national capital: Baltimore, Lancaster, York, Annapolis, Trenton, Philadelphia, and even New York City all hosted the national government. However, it was clear that the nation’s capital would need to be independent from the then-powerful state governments and that the southern states would refuse to accept a capital in the north. On July 16, 1790, Congress passed The Residence Act, which established that the capital of the U.S. will be located along the Potomac River. On January 24, 1791, President Washington announced the specific location of the new federal city just north of his 70,000-acre estate. A diamond-shaped federal district was carved out of land from the states of Maryland and Virginia and the federal government purchased large swaths of mostly-undeveloped land from its owners. The existing municipalities of Georgetown and Alexandria remained independent cities within the newly created District of Columbia.
The French-born architect Pierre L’Enfant was hired to plan the city layout. L’Enfant’s plan, modeled after some of the leading cities in Europe, envisioned large parks and wide streets, including a grand boulevard connecting the “President’s House” to the Capitol Building, with a huge waterfall cascading down Capitol Hill. However, L’Enfant was eccentric and fought bitterly with President Washington and the commissioners appointed to supervise the capital’s construction. At the urging of Thomas Jefferson, L’Enfant resigned from his post and never received payment for his work.


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