Washington. D.C., is the capital of the United States. It is one of the few national capitals founded solely as a seat of government. The original plan of the city anticipated its future growth. As the new republic increased in size and wealth. Washington grew to become one of the most important and beautiful cities in the world. It is the site of impressive government buildings, magnificent monuments, important historical landmarks, fine museums, and broad, tree-shaded avenues and malls. Every year Washington is visited by millions of tourists from all parts of the United States and from many other countries of the world. But the city is also home to a large number of people — the place where they live, work, and raise families. As such, it Is confronted by the same problems facing most large cities.
Washington, District of Columbia, was named after George Washington and Christopher Columbus.
Washington lies on the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. The city’s site was selected by President Washington in 1791. A French engineer and architect was commissioned to plan the future capital. In 1800 the still unfinished city replaced Philadelphia as the nation’s capital.
Because of its great size, central location, and elevated position on Capitol Hill, the Capitol dominates the Washington skyline. The US Congress meets in this building. Visitors may attend congressional sessions to watch legislators in action.
The Capitol is one of Washington’s most magnificent buildings. It is constructed of white sandstone and marble and crowned by an impressive dome. On top of the dome stands a bronze Statue of Freedom. Public rooms include the Rotunda decorated with paintings and statues of events and people in American history, and Statuary Hall, which contains statues of distinguished citizens from every state.
The Capitol is set in a small park around which are a number of impressive government buildings, among which are the Supreme Court Building, modeled after a Greek temple and the Library of Congress, one of the largest libraries in the world.
The White House
The White House stands northwest of the Capitol at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Every four years the parade for the newly inaugurated president travels the historic route along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. The White House, whose foundation was laid in 1792, has been the home of every president with the exception of George Washington.
The 132-room White House, which has been renovated and enlarged several times, is a white sandstone building in neoclassical style. Tourists may visit portions of the ground floor and first floor, including the Blue Room, the State Dining Room, and the East Room, which is used for many of the president’s public receptions. The White House grounds are open to the public only once a year — for the annual Egg Roll held on Easter Monday.
The White House has been the official residence of the President of the U.S. since it was first occupied by President John Adams in 1800.
Monuments and Memorials
Monuments to three presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln — among the most popular sights in the city. They stand in a vast green triangular area, within full sight of one another.
The Washington Monument is a white marble obelisk about 555 feet high. Its interior is hollow, and visitors may climb the stairs or ride the elavator to the top for a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding area. The Washington Monument stands at the edge of the Mall a long,narrow park extending from the Capitol.
Beyond the Washington Monument is the Lincoln Memorial, a monumental structure resembling a classic Greek temple. Dominating the interior is an impressive seated statue of Lincoln. The texts of Lincoln’s most famous speeches are inscribed on the walls.
South of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial is the Jefferson Memorial, standing amid the famed cherry trees on the shore of the Tidal Basin. The Jefferson Memorial is a circular, colonnaded marble structure topped by a beautiful dome. Inside stands a heroic statue of Jefferson which can be seen through the Memorial’s four openings. Quotations from Jefferson’s most famous writings are inscribed in bronze on panels on the walls.
Museums and Galleries
Washington’s museums and art galleries are among the finest in the world. The Smithsonian Institution, a scientific and cultural organization sponsored by the U.S. government, consists of museums or similar units in the areas of science, technology, history, and art. Several of its museums are on the Mall.
The Smithsonian’s best-known scientific bodies include the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum. The Museum of History and Technology has one of the city’s most popular exhibits — the collection of First Ladies’ gowns. The National Gallery of Ait, Washington’s principal art gallery, houses a wonderful collection of American and European art.
The Smithsonian Institution is lovingly called “the nation’s attic’’. It was founded in 1846 under the terms of the will of James Smithson, an English scientist who had never crossed the Atlantic. Smithson bequeathed his entire fortune to the United States of America To found at Washington under the name of the Smithsonian Institution an establishment for the increase and diffusion of know ledge among men”.