Capital of the United States of America.
In 1790, after much political compromise, Congress passed the Residence Act, which determined that a 10-mi (16-km) square site for a permanent capital would be selected on the Potomac River along the Virginia-Maryland border. President George Washington chose the specific location of the federal district at the head of navigation of the Potomac River.
The selected area, which was to be named the District of Columbia after Christopher Columbus.
Washington appointed French architect Pierre L'Enfant to design the city. L'Enfant created a grand plan for a city bounded by the Potomac and Anacostia rivers and on the north by the present Florida Avenue. Originally called Federal City, it was renamed by Congress for the nation's first president.
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Established in 1800 as the seat of national government, a role that still dominates its existence, Washington is today the core of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the USA and serves as a center of both national and international politics and diplomacy.
No other large U.S. city has an economy so clearly driven by a single economic force. About one-third of Washington's workers are federal government employees. The executive branch is the largest federal employer; the legislative and judicial branches employ fewer people directly, but they draw various service industries to the city. Thousands of organizations such as trade associations, labor unions, and private interest groups are located in the city, and lawyers and consultants abound. Functionally related to the U.S. government are the embassies and legations representing some 140 nations. Major international organizations, such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Organization of American States, add to the international flavor and to the financial and political importance of the city.
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Tourism is the second most important aspect of the city's economy. The national monuments and museums attract more than 18 million visitors each year. The city hosts many conventions annually; hotels are numerous, and a major convention center was opened in 1983.
Manufacturing is of minor importance and is dominated by the printing, publishing, and food industries. The city's main daily newspapers are the Washington Post and The Washington Times. weatherpost.com
The city's population decreased from 638,432 in 1980 to 606,900 in 1990, as many of its residents moved into other parts of the metropolitan region. Meanwhile, the metropolitan region, which includes the district and parts of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia, increased from 3,478,000 in 1980 to 4,223,000 in 1990. According to the 1990 census, blacks constitute 65.8 percent of the city's population.
The Urban Landscape Washington's street system is essentially a grid pattern overlaid by broad radial avenues.
The central open space, called the Mall, is surrounded by public buildings and a number of important museums and is flanked on the east by the Capitol (Library of Congress) and on the west by the Lincoln Memorial.
The major federal office buildings are located in the vicinity of this nucleus.
The city's downtown area is extensive, primarily because of an ordinance limiting building height.
The oldest sections of residential Washington are dominated by row houses, which, toward the District boundaries, give way to detached housing and, on the major radial streets, to apartment buildings. Since the 1960s many older areas have been revitalized by urban renewal. Residential Washington has many varied neighborhoods, each with a distinctive social and ethnic character. Georgetown, for instance, has the character of a village, with many fine old homes and gardens. Capitol Hill is largely a neighborhood of restored Victorian row houses. Anacostia, located east of the Anacostia River, has run-down neighborhoods.
Major cities near Washington DC:
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