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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrEvidence shows that the early inhabitants of the Washington area were Native Americans, who have probably occupied the site 4,000 years ago, specifically around the Anacostia River, like the Nacotchtank tribes and the Piscataway tribes. Led by Captain John Smith, European migrants arrived in the region in the early 17th century.
HistoryThe first European landowners of the area were George Thompson and Thomas Gerrard. Their lands spread along the blue plains, Saint Elisabeth, Anascostia and other areas around the Potomac River. The arrival of Europeans gave rise to many conflicts with Native Americans, which led to the Maryland’s authorities to build a fort within the District of Columbia in 1697.
The establishment of Georgetown followed in 1751 when the Maryland legislature purchased sixty acres of land for the town from George Gordon and George Beall at the price of £ £280 ($426), while Alexandria, Virginia was founded in 1749.
The United States capital was originally located in Philadelphia, then In early 1791, President Georges Washington appointed French architect, Pierre Charles L'Enfant, to draw a plan for the new city in an area of land at the center of the federal territory that lay between the northeast shore of the Potomac River and the northwest shore of the Potomac's Eastern Branch. And then, Pierre got involved in rather contentious relations with partners and commissioners, like the one with Andrew Ellicott who informed the commissioners that L'Enfant had not arranged to have the city plan engraved and had refused to provide him with an original plan that L'Enfant was then holding. Ellicott took over the project with his brother, Benjamin Ellicott, and revised the plan, despite L'Enfant's protests.
Shortly thereafter, Washington dismissed L'Enfant. Ellicott gave the first version of his own plan to James Thakara and John Vallance of Philadelphia, who engraved, printed and published it. This version, printed in March 1792, was the first Washington city plan that received wide circulation.
After L'Enfant’s departure, Ellicott continued the city survey in accordance with his revised plan, several larger and more detailed versions of which were also engraved, published and distributed. As a result, Ellicott's revisions became the basis for the capital city's future expansion.
During the civil rights movements (early 1950s), President Harry Truman ended racial discrimination in the Armed Forces and federal workplaces in 1948. Despite this decision, parks and recreation facilities in Washington remained segregated until 1954 and public schools followed soon after. In 1957, Washington became the first major city in the nation with a majority African-American population. Like many cities, it had received thousands of black people from the South in the Great Migration , started during World War I and accelerating in the next two decades. With the buildup of government and defense industries during World War II, many new residents found jobs in Washington D.C.
After the war, Europeans who were better established economically, moved to newer housing in adjoining states in the suburbanization movement that occurred around most major cities in America. This tendency is changing today, with Europeans and Hispanics coming back to the area, and black populations migrating back to the South due to the lower cost of living there.
Washington D.C. is the most important city in all of the United States. Some might argue that New York City is more important since it is home to many major businesses, but Washington D.C. sits as the capital city in the United States, home of the Federal Government. When walking around Washington D.C., you get an idea of what was envisioned by America’s forefathers and the history that was built in honor of them. Washington is worth the visit for anyone that wants to gather information about the history of one of the most important countries in the world.
There is a strong mix of ethnicities in Washington D.C., but you may notice that races are divided into the different districts of the city. As a whole, Washington D.C. is 50.7% African American, 38.5% White, 9.1% Hispanic, and 3.5% Asian. To the east, the African-American population is very large and the opposite to the west side of the city.
Sightseeing in Washington D.C.If you go to Washington D.C. just to take in some of the landmarks that it has to offer, you won’t be disappointed. Even if you eat fast food and stay at the cheapest hotel, the sightseeing makes it worthwhile. There are probably too many landmarks to cover, but some of the most important sights you need to know are the Smithsonian Institution Building, the Capitol Building, the White House , Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Vietnam Veterans Memorial , and so much more. The Smithsonian is often regarded as the best museum in the world. As a matter of fact, they don’t have room to display all of the historic items that are sent to them, that’s how prestigious it is.
There are probably too many landmarks to cover. The most popular and probably interesting sites to visits are the following:
Smithsonian Institution BuildingConsidered as the world’s largest museum and research complex; it is made up of 19 museums and galleries and the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Access to visitors is free of charge and all of the museums are opened every day. Try the Smithsonian African American History and Culture Museum, the African Art Museum or the Air and Space Museum.
United Sates CapitolThe United States Capitol offers different exhibits dedicated to the history of the nation and the US congress. It displays a number of original documents, artifacts, videos and also touchable models. It offers free tours from 8:30PM to 4:30PM From Monday to Saturday. A tour pass is required for access, but don’t bring oversized backpacks or any other kind of large luggage with you, as it is firmly prohibited and also forms part of their security policy.
National MallLocated in Downtown DC, it is one of the most-crowded tourist destination of the city, with almost 24 million visitors every year. It is a national park that counts a large number of memorial, pools and public promenades. Make sure you stop by the very popular Franklin Roosevelt, Jefferson and Martin Luther King’s Memorials, you will not regret it. Entrance is free, and make sure you get there before dark if you want to cover a considerable amount of memorials within the park.
The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial are all located within the National Mall. This is where many of the man-made landmarks in Washington are built around the Reflecting Pool. It gives you a sense of pride that the United States has for its heroes in terms of leadership. They are all built in dedication to brave souls that moved the United States forward into power.
National Zoological ParkAlso called the National Zoo, this zoo is also known as one of the oldest zoo in the United States. You will not be charged for access, and it is open every day from 10AM to 6PM. When visiting, you’ll get the chance to see one of zoo’s notable animals like the Giant Panda. You can also enjoy one of the many zoo lights events, a very innovative sight (at least for a zoo). This exhibit, includes a variety of leisure activities such as live music performances and some winter treats.
Washington MonumentA remarkable 555 foot marble obelisk, that steals your attention away, when visiting downtown Washington. It is free of charge, like most other memorials, but a ticket is required for visit within the interior of the obelisk. Tickets are obtained at a ticket window on site.
Washington National CathedralA beautiful 57-acre cathedral church, built in the Gothic revival architectural style, its story is remarkable as it is said to have been constructed in 1893 but was only completed in 1990. Some important political figures of the country are buried there among which three American Presidents like Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Adults pay a $ 10 USD entrance fee, children pay $ 6.00 USD (those under 4 years old pay no fee). You’ll get a 30-minute tour around the cathedral as early as 10AM. Tours last until 5:30PM.
FoodWashington D.C. doesn't quite have a signature dish that started there and really caught on, unlike their neighbors to the north in Maryland . However, Washington is home to some of the nation’s finest cuisine. Washington is a very busy city, so you will find that food trucks and carts are popular here and really started the trend. The best food stand that you can find is in nearby Arlington, Virginia and it is named ‘El Chilango’. It's a Mexican food truck that serves the city's best tacos. If you want an indoor restaurant, check out Rose's Luxury on 8th Street. Their pork sausage and habanero lychee salad are highly regarded in the city. For Italian food, try Komi on 17th Street, but make sure to come hungry as they serve up multiple course meals. The American food is good in Washington, but the international cuisine is amazing.
HotelsSome of the finest hotels in the nation’s capital city are Hotel Lombardy, Morrison-Clark Historic Inn, Monaco Washington DC, and the Hay-Adams.
Hotel Lombardy was built in the 1920s and has held the same classic design ever since. It is described as a boutique hotel and is situated near the top sights of Washington D.C. It can be very costly to stay due to its prestige, luxury, and location.
The Morrison-Clark is even older, built in 1864 and is described as a Victorian mansion. It is only a block away from the famed Convention Center in the city. The building has been completely restored and gives off the elegance of a 19th-century building.
The Monaco DC is another landmark that was built in the 1800s. The rooms have very distinct looks and the colors will capture your attention right away. It appears to be a high-class hotel from the outside and the inside confirms that. You will feel like royalty when staying here.
ShoppingThere are many different shopping districts located within Washington D.C. which is not surprising as it is one of the most-visited cities in the world. The downtown area has modernized over the past decade and specializes in fashion. The Georgetown district has more of a younger feel to it with the college nearby but it looks like it's from the 1700s. For funkier wares, head to DuPont Circle. This is where you can find a large collection of bookstores, galleries, and other outlets that you may find in other major cities. If you are interested in finding home decorations, head to the Arts District/U Street. The dining here is also highly regarded and worth a visit during the afternoon. The most popular shopping malls whether you opt for downtown DC (especially Chinatown), Georgetown District or even as far as Leesburg are the following:
- Georgetown Park Mall, with a building dating from the late 1800s, it became a shopping center in the 1950s. You’ll find high end and discount national retailers like Abercrombie and Fitch, DSW, TJ Maxx, several restaurants and a bowling alley there.
- Tibet shop: A Tibetan goods specialty (but you can also find merchandise from Nepal), if you like antics this is the right place to go to; with its mala beads, jewelry, tapestries, clothing and so much more. But be aware that clothing in the store would mostly fit small-sized people, as Tibetans are known to be tiny (not for fast food lovers).
- Gallery Place: Located in the very popular and crowded Chinatown, it is perhaps (by far) the area’s favorite spot, as it is suitable for shopping, dining, watching a movie, but also nightlife. You’ll encounter people from all walks of life and nationalities there. The galleries are metro-accessible and bring to the area a little touch of Manhattan to it.
- Mazza Gallery: A very modern shopping center that features up scaled well-known retailers and an 8-screen movie theater. It counts a total of 18 shops and is metro accessible (at the friendship heights stop on the red line).
NightlifeAs being the capital city, D.C’s nightlife is rather agreeable as you’ll get the chance to meet people of different nationalities, wherever you decide to have a drink, or go dancing in the evening. From cheap to average prices, the city is home to some of the best spots to enjoy yourself. Try visiting the following spots in D.C for your evening entertainment:
- Ultrabar: Renown to have the best DJ’s in town, the place is a mega nightclub and lounge fusion. With a capacity of up to 1000 people a night, Ultrabar is split in 5 levels and with a total of 6 bars. You’ll never get bored there, because the DJ keeps you busy all night. The only inconvenience is the presence of very young teens in the club (they can have some disturbing behaviors).
- Barcode: A very modern and trendy bar lounge restaurant, it has a mixed crowd and an excellent music selection. Surprisingly, even their wine by the glass is taken from a great selection of bottles. The service is impeccable, and you will mostly have to pay a $ 40 USD fee at the entrance.
- Eden: This is one of the spots in D.C where they try to be innovative with their clientele. The club offers events such as sushi-making classes, hookah or barbecue for a $ 40 USD fee. It has different dance floors (so you don’t have to worry about space) and with their additional open-air bar, no wonder the place is always full. However, they tend to be more sales oriented, as they will do anything to sell you some extra bottles (that you probably don’t need), or make some false advertising just to fill in the place.
- Town Dance Boutique: This is D.C’s largest male-only nightclub. It has dance floors on 2 levels, a plush lounge and even drag shows (a must-see). You’ll pay fees ranging from $ 5.00 USD to $ 12 USD on entrance, depending on your age.
SafetyWashington D.C. is considered one of the most dangerous cities in America based on their crime rate, but if you are able to stick to the main tourist spots, you will likely not encounter any problems. Visiting the northwest part of the city is the safest, including neighborhoods like Barnaby Woods and Nevada Ave. If you head south, the Bellevue neighborhood is also very safe.
TransportationIf you are flying in from a country outside of America, then the only option is to use the Washington Dulles International Airport, but it can be a long drive at over 30 minutes away from Washington D.C. You can also use the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport but that is another 15 minutes away. For domestic travelers, the best option is to use the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. It's only minutes from downtown and when landing, you get to see all of the best sights that D.C. has to offer.
Once arriving at the airport, there are few different options to get into town. The Flyer Coach and Metrobus options are always quick and cheap, usually costing under $ 10 USD . If you want to get into Washington by train, the Amtrak train stops at Union Station in the heart of the city. You can access this rail system through most major cities, including Chicago and New York City. If you are driving into Washington, you will want to become familiar with the Capital Beltway (I-495). This is used to get from one suburb to another in Washington, and gets very busy at most times of the day. When coming from outside of the city, I-270, I-70, I-495 and I-66 are the main freeways that connect major cities to Washington.
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Author: koreydbeckett. Last updated: Dec 27, 2014