Washington DC – Stunning Sights and Beautiful Neighborhoods
Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, is one of the prime tourist destinations on the East Coast. The city offers many of the greatest sights
within the US, such as the White House, The Mall or the Smithsonian. There really is so much to see in Washington that one should stay several days to
be able to enjoy all the historic and cultural attractions “The District” holds in store for its visitors.
The District of Columbia (D.C.) was created in 1790 when the federal government was looking for a perfect site for a newly-built capital for the young nation.
Both Virginia and Maryland had to give away some of their territory so that the new city could be built. French city planner Pierre L’Enfant designed the layout
of the city according to the then-fashionable baroque style with its characteristic broad radiating boulevards and large round squares where the streets are meeting.
The most notable of the avenues is of course Pennsylvania Avenue, connecting the White House with the Capitol Building.
After only two decades of existence, the new capital was burnt in 1814 by the attacking British. Though it was rapidly rebuilt, Washington remained a rather
small city. The city’s population expanded greatly from the 1930s on when Roosevelt’s New Deal created many new jobs on the federal level. Today, the metropolitan
region (which extends to the neighboring states Virginia and Maryland) is home to more than 5 million people. Some 580,000 people live within the district’s borders.
The Mall and Lincoln Memorial
Every description of DC sights has to start with this grand axis, the National Mall. From the Lincoln Memorial to the steps of the Capitol Building The Mall runs
a total of 1.9 miles, with the Washington Monument roughly situated in the middle of the way. There are numerous sights along the way. To start with the two endings,
the US Capitol Building, constructed in 1793, is a prime example of American Neoclassicism with its large dome, the many temple-like columns and huge stairways.
Facing the capitol some two miles to the west is Abraham Lincoln, or rather a larger-than-life sitting statue depicting the former president, inside a temple-like
structure. Technically, the Lincoln Memorial and the adjacent park and pond do not belong to The Mall but they are commonly included.
Between the Washington Monument, this magnificent obelisk inaugurated in 1888, and Capitol Hill, one finds numerous galleries and museums. One of the more notable
structure is “The Castle”, the Smithsonian Institution Building. It houses the administrative branch of the Smithsonian museum network. It lies opposite to the National
Museum of National History, which exhibits well-preserved dinosaur skeletons and many other animal species, but also the world-famed Hope Diamond and countless other
mineral samples. The National Gallery of Art houses one of the finest art collections on the globe. In the National Museum of American History, visitors can follow
the paths of the US presidents or the development of the automobile.
Between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument America’s important wars are remembered. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a wall with all the names of the
fallen US soldiers carved upon, attracts some 4 million visitors every year. Across the Tidal Basin of the Potomac River, the Jefferson Memorial is the most prominent
landmark, another impressive neoclassical building.
The Library of Congress and National Archives own every imaginable document that has been of importance for the nation’s development. Most notably, the Declaration
of Independence, the US Constitution, and the US Bill of Rights are on display. With more than 58 million manuscripts, the library has the largest rare book collection
in North America.
There are many other attractions beyond the obvious sights. Outside of the sight-packed city center, Washington changes into several smaller and bigger neighborhoods
that all have their own distinct and characteristic charm. Mount Pleasant, for instance, and its weekly Farmer’s Market, offers the freshest local products straight from
the farm to the city. To get a sense of the ethnic diversity in the capital, you should pay a visit to Adams-Morgan, the heart of the city’s Latino population and home
to countless bars and restaurants. Dupont Circle and the surrounding area has undergone a thorough gentrification since the 1970s and is now a bohemian quarter with
lots of cultural activity, a 24-hour bookstore, the city’s first gay bookstore, and many other interesting spots. The area is also home to many embassies. For shopping,
Connecticut Avenue, radiating from the center in a northwestern direction, is home to many small bars and boutiques. Some of Washington’s most popular attractions like
the huge National Zoo or the neo-gothic National Cathedral are also located on Connecticut Avenue.
Georgetown is the home of one the nation’s most revered universities. In addition, the oldest still existing house of the city, the Old Stone House, can be found here
on M Street. Like many other inner-city districts, Georgetown has undergone a profound gentrification over the last two decades. Many historic sites can be found here,
including Dumbarton Oaks, where the UN were outlined, the old African-American cemetery of Mount Zion or the City Tavern Club, the oldest commercial structure in DC.
Washington, the nation’s capital, is home to a myriad of sights and attractions that are of historical and cultural importance. One needs to take enough time to be
able to explore even only a small portion of these. In addition to the popular sites, Washington offers diverse and bustling neighborhoods where one can detect an entirely
different side of the city behind every corner.