Washington DC may not qualify as a state, but it's home to 723,244 residents. With all the perks of any other large metro area. The District is filled with distinct neighborhoods, each with its own atmosphere. Residents gather in coffee shops and cafes, mingle at dog parks, throw block parties, and do all things typical of any other American city. The difference is, Washington DC is a federal district, an independent region serving as the nation's capital. Land donated by Maryland and Virginia formed it and named Washington after our first president. Columbia comes from Christopher Columbus.
Although the District offers life as typical as any other city, it's unique because the U.S. Constitution names it as the nation's capital. From the beginning, it's been the scene of political power, conflict, and compromise. The location of the capital city was a compromise itself. Alexander Hamilton and the northern states wanted the federal government to take on Revolutionary War debts while Thomas Jefferson and the South wanted a location that would be amicable to slave-holding agricultural interests.
In 1790, President Washington chose a site along the Potomac River, and the city was officially founded. Maryland and Virginia both ceded land to the District, and it was decided that it would be distinct and distinguishable from other states. President Washington appointed Pierre Charles L'Enfant as the designer of the new city. L'Enfant's vision was a bold, modern city built on a grid with the Capitol building at the center. He wanted ceremonial spaces and grand boulevards similar to his native Paris, capital of France. Today those boulevards are streets named after states.
Barely getting a footing on the ground, DC was almost destroyed during the War of 1812. Enemy forces from Great Britain invaded and burned much of the city to the ground. This included the new White House, the Capitol building, and the Library of Congress. Three years later, Thomas Jefferson replaced books lost in the fire by selling his personal library for $23,950. The devastation of the War of 1812 kept the city's population small. In 1847, it became small in size as well. Alexandria voters elected to leave the District because they felt left out of development on their side of the river. Some of the original markers can still be seen today.
The Civil War brought growth to DC after slaves owned around town were emancipated in April of 1862. A vibrant and significant African American population arose that included abolitionist Frederick Douglass. A strong army had been established to protect the capital during the war. The federal government grew as a result of this army's administration. They proposed the McMillan Plan in 1901 to complete L'Enfant's original design for the city. The plan would redesign and expand the National Mall to become DC's crown jewel.
Washington DC continued to grow and develop over the 20th century in spite of much civil unrest and rioting during the 1960s and 1970s. The city then saw a mass exodus of middle-class European American and African Americans flee to the suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. The Kennedys addressed the city's neglected beauty in the early 1960s. Both John and first lady Jacqueline took an interest in historic preservation. Still, war protests and racial riots discouraged people from moving into the city. It wouldn't be until the 1970s when a new subway system was completed that things would change. Easier assessability awakened interest in parts of the city. Finally, the real estate boom of the 1980s brought revitalization to the inner city neighborhoods.
The urban renaissance continued, and today Washington DC is vibrant and culturally diverse. The city is sophisticated and layered providing a home town for locals and a center for international power. The National Mall and a plethora of museums make it a fantastic city to visit.
Called America's front yard, the National Mall is the most visited national park in America. Monuments and memorials honoring our forefathers and American heroes stand majestically between the U.S. Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. It's a national stage for voicing opinions and a place for celebrations. Towering above the impressive Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial borders the parks western end. It's marble columns were inspired by ancient Greek temples. Standing at just over 555 feet, the Washington Monument is the world's tallest stone structure today. It was built to honor the first commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and our first president. Construction began in 1848 but was stopped in 1854 because of political problems and a lack of funding. Construction resumed in 1879 using rock from a different quarry. Along with erosion and time, this caused the color change noticed at the 150-foot mark.
Today, there is much more to see other than the history of monuments and memorials made of stone. World-class museums at the Smithsonian lie east of the Washington monument. Visitors pause by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to remember how precious freedom is. They stroll through the works at the National Gallery of Art to ponder the meaning of original Da Vinci and Van Gogh paintings.
Washington DC residents today live in modern neighborhoods surrounded by history. There's so much to see and do in the city visitors often regret not having enough time to explore. Everything at the Smithsonian museums alone would take about three lifetimes to see, and that's if you only spent a minute at each display! Residents can make a dent, though, and having a premier, high-tech gardening and lawn care service in town helps. At Lawn Love, we offer an online platform to outsource and manage all of your lawn and gardening chores. If you live in DC, get started with Lawn Love today and get out there and explore the special city you call home.