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Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia ( D.C.), also known as just Washington, is the of the . It is located on the east bank of the which forms its southwestern and southern border with the U.S. state of , and shares a land border with the U.S. state of on its remaining sides. The city was named for George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father, and the is named after Columbia, a female personification of the nation. As the seat of the U.S. federal government and several international organizations, the city is an important . It is one of the most visited cities in the U.S., seeing over 20 million visitors in 2016.

The U.S. Constitution provides for a under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; the district is therefore not a part of any U.S. state (nor is it one itself). The signing of the on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a located along the Potomac River near the country's East Coast. The City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the national capital, and Congress held its first session there in 1800. In 1801, the territory, formerly part of Maryland and Virginia (including the settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria), officially became recognized as the federal district. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia, including the city of Alexandria; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the district. There have been efforts to make the city into a state since the 1880s, a movement that has gained momentum in recent years, and a statehood bill passed the House of Representatives in 2021.

The city is divided into quadrants centered on the Capitol Building, and there are as many as 131 neighborhoods. According to the 2020 Census, it has a population of 689,545, which makes it the 20th-most populous city in the U.S. and gives it a population larger than that of two U.S. states: Wyoming and Vermont. from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. Washington's metropolitan area, the country's sixth-largest (including parts of Maryland, Virginia and ), had a 2019 estimated population of 6.3 million residents.

The three branches of the U.S. federal government are centered in the district: Congress (legislative), the president (executive), and the Supreme Court (judicial). Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, primarily situated on or around the . The city hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, lobbying groups, and professional associations, including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, the , the National Geographic Society, the Human Rights Campaign, the International Finance Corporation, and the American Red Cross.

A locally elected mayor and a 13-member council have governed the district since 1973. Congress maintains supreme authority over the city and may overturn local laws. D.C. residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the House of Representatives, but the district has no representation in the Senate. District voters choose three presidential electors in accordance with the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961.


History
Various of the Algonquian-speaking (also known as the Conoy) inhabited the lands around the when Europeans first visited the area in the early 17th century. One group known as the (also called the Nacostines by Catholic missionaries) maintained settlements around the within the present-day District of Columbia. Conflicts with European colonists and neighboring tribes forced the relocation of the Piscataway people, some of whom established a new settlement in 1699 near Point of Rocks, Maryland.
(1977). 9781888028041, George Washington University. .

In his Federalist No. 43, published January 23, 1788, argued that the new federal government would need authority over a national capital to provide for its own maintenance and safety. Five years earlier, a band of unpaid soldiers had besieged Congress while its members were meeting in . Known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, the event emphasized the need for the national government not to rely on any state for its own security.

, of the Constitution permits the establishment of a "District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States". However, the Constitution does not specify a location for the capital. In what is now known as the Compromise of 1790, Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and agreed that the federal government would pay each state's remaining Revolutionary War debts in exchange for establishing the new national capital in the Southern United States.


Foundation
On July 9, 1790, Congress passed the , which approved the creation of a national capital on the . The exact location was to be selected by President George Washington, who signed the bill into law on July 16. Formed from land donated by the states of Maryland and Virginia, the initial shape of the federal district was a square measuring on each side, totaling .

Two pre-existing settlements were included in the territory: the port of Georgetown, Maryland, founded in 1751, and the port city of Alexandria, Virginia, founded in 1749. During 1791–92, a team under Andrew Ellicott, including Ellicott's brothers and Benjamin and African-American Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the borders of the federal district and placed boundary stones at every mile point.

(2021). 9780060842383, HarperCollins. .
Many of the stones are still standing.

A new was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the three commissioners overseeing the capital's construction named the city in honor of President Washington. The same day, the federal district was named Columbia (a feminine form of "Columbus"), which was a poetic name for the United States commonly in use at that time. Congress held its first session there on November 17, 1800.

Congress passed the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 which officially organized the district and placed the entire territory under the exclusive control of the federal government. Further, the area within the district was organized into two counties: the County of Washington to the east (or north) of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria to the west (or south). After the passage of this Act, citizens living in the district were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, which therefore ended their representation in Congress.


Burning during the War of 1812
On August 24–25, 1814, in a raid known as the Burning of Washington, British forces invaded the capital during the War of 1812. The Capitol, Treasury, and were burned and gutted during the attack. Most government buildings were repaired quickly; however, the Capitol was largely under construction at the time and was not completed in its current form until 1868.


Retrocession and the Civil War
In the 1830s, the district's southern territory of Alexandria went into economic decline partly due to neglect by Congress. The city of Alexandria was a major market in the American slave trade, and pro-slavery residents feared that abolitionists in Congress would end slavery in the district, further depressing the economy. Alexandria's citizens petitioned Virginia to take back the land it had donated to form the district, through a process known as retrocession.

The Virginia General Assembly voted in February 1846 to accept the return of Alexandria. On July 9, 1846, Congress agreed to return all the territory that Virginia had ceded. Therefore, the district's area consists only of the portion originally donated by Maryland. Confirming the fears of pro-slavery Alexandrians, the Compromise of 1850 outlawed the slave trade in the District, although not slavery itself.

The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 led to the expansion of the federal government and notable growth in the district's population, including a large influx of freed slaves. President signed the Compensated Emancipation Act in 1862, which ended slavery in the district of Columbia and freed about 3,100 enslaved persons, nine months prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1868, Congress granted the district's male residents the right to vote in municipal elections.


Growth and redevelopment
By 1870, the district's population had grown 75% from the previous census to nearly 132,000 residents. Despite the city's growth, Washington still had dirt roads and lacked basic sanitation. Some members of Congress suggested moving the capital further west, but President Ulysses S. Grant refused to consider such a proposal.
(2021). 9780060842383, HarperCollins. .

Congress passed the Organic Act of 1871, which repealed the individual charters of the cities of Washington and Georgetown, abolished the Washington County, and created a new territorial government for the whole District of Columbia. From this point, the name "Washington", initially only refers to "the City of Washington, DC", became synonymous with "District of Columbia".

After the reorganization, President Grant appointed Alexander Robey Shepherd to the position of Governor of the District of Columbia in 1873. Shepherd authorized large-scale projects that greatly modernized the City of Washington, but ultimately bankrupted the district government. In 1874, Congress replaced the territorial government with an appointed three-member Board of Commissioners.

The city's first motorized streetcars began service in 1888. They generated growth in areas of the district beyond the City of Washington's original boundaries. Washington's urban plan was expanded throughout the district in the following decades.

(2021). 9780801893537, Johns Hopkins University Press.
Georgetown's street grid and other administrative details were formally merged to those of the legal City of Washington in 1895. However, the city had poor housing conditions and strained public works. The district was the first city in the nation to undergo projects as part of the "City Beautiful movement" in the early 1900s.
(2021). 9781419593734, Kaplan. .

Increased federal spending as a result of the in the 1930s led to the construction of new government buildings, memorials, and museums in the district,

(2021). 9780719047275, Manchester University Press. .
though the chairman of the House Subcommittee on District Appropriations Ross A. Collins from justified cuts to funds for welfare and education for local residents, saying that "my constituents wouldn't stand for spending money on niggers." Home Rule or House Rule? Congress and the Erosion of Local Governance in the District of Columbia by Michael K. Fauntroy, University Press of America, 2003 at , page 94

World War II further increased government activity, adding to the number of federal employees in the capital;

(2021). 9780738516363, Arcadia Publishing. .
by 1950, the district's population reached its peak of 802,178 residents.


Civil rights and home rule era
The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1961, granting the district three votes in the Electoral College for the election of president and vice president, but still no voting representation in Congress.

After the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on April 4, 1968, riots broke out in the district, primarily in the U Street, 14th Street, 7th Street, and H Street corridors, centers of black residential and commercial areas. The riots raged for three days until more than 13,600 federal troops and D.C. Army National Guardsmen stopped the violence. Many stores and other buildings were burned; rebuilding was not completed until the late 1990s.

In 1973, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, providing for an elected mayor and thirteen-member council for the district. In 1975, Walter Washington became the first elected and first black mayor of the district.


Geography
Washington, D.C., is located in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. East Coast. Due to the District of Columbia retrocession, the city has a total area of , of which is land and (10.67%) is water. The district is bordered by Montgomery County, Maryland to the northwest; Prince George's County, Maryland to the east; Arlington County, Virginia to the west; and Alexandria, Virginia to the south. Washington, D.C., is from , from and from New York City.

The south bank of the forms the district's border with Virginia and has two major tributaries: the and Rock Creek. , a natural watercourse that once passed through the , was fully enclosed underground during the 1870s. The creek also formed a portion of the now-filled Washington City Canal, which allowed passage through the city to the Anacostia River from 1815 until the 1850s. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal starts in Georgetown and was used during the 19th century to bypass the Little Falls of the Potomac River, located at the northwest edge of Washington at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line.

The highest natural elevation in the district is above sea level at Fort Reno Park in upper northwest Washington. The lowest point is sea level at the Potomac River.

(2021). 9780895872791, John F. Blair. .
The geographic center of Washington is near the intersection of 4th and L Streets NW.

The district has of parkland, about 19% of the city's total area and the second-highest percentage among high-density U.S. cities. This factor contributed to Washington, D.C., being ranked as third in the nation for park access and quality in the 2018 ParkScore ranking of the park systems of the 100 most populous cities in the United States, according to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.

The National Park Service manages most of the of city land owned by the U.S. government. Rock Creek Park is a urban forest in Northwest Washington, which extends through a stream valley that bisects the city. Established in 1890, it is the country's fourth-oldest national park and is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including raccoon, deer, owls, and coyotes. Other National Park Service properties include the C&O Canal National Historical Park, the National Mall and Memorial Parks, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Columbia Island, Fort Dupont Park, Meridian Hill Park, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, and . The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation maintains the city's of athletic fields and playgrounds, 40 swimming pools, and 68 recreation centers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture operates the U.S. National Arboretum in Northeast Washington.


Climate
Washington is in the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen: Cfa). The Trewartha classification is defined as an ( Do). Winters are usually cool with light snow, and summers are hot and humid. The district is in plant 8a near downtown, and zone 7b elsewhere in the city, indicating a humid subtropical climate.

Spring and fall are mild to warm, while winter is cool with annual snowfall averaging . Winter temperatures average around from mid-December to mid-February. However, winter temperatures in excess of are not uncommon.

Summers are hot and humid with a July daily average of and average daily relative humidity around 66%, which can cause moderate personal discomfort. Heat indices regularly approach at the height of summer. The combination of heat and humidity in the summer brings very frequent thunderstorms, some of which occasionally produce tornadoes in the area.

Blizzards affect Washington, on average, once every four to six years. The most violent storms are called "nor'easters", which often affect large sections of the East Coast. From January 27 to 28, 1922, the city officially received of snowfall, the largest snowstorm since official measurements began in 1885. According to notes kept at the time, the city received between from a snowstorm in January 1772.

Hurricanes (or their remnants) occasionally track through the area in late summer and early fall. However, they are often weak by the time they reach Washington, partly due to the city's inland location.

(2021). 9780978628000, Blue Diamond Books. .
Flooding of the Potomac River, however, caused by a combination of high tide, storm surge, and runoff, has been known to cause extensive property damage in the neighborhood of Georgetown.

Precipitation occurs throughout the year.

The highest recorded temperature was on August 6, 1918, and on July 20, 1930. while the lowest recorded temperature was on February 11, 1899, right before the Great Blizzard of 1899. During a typical year, the city averages about 37 days at or above and 64 nights at or below the freezing mark (). On average, the first day with a minimum at or below freezing is November 18 and the last day is March 27.Grieser, Justin; Livingston, Ian (November 8, 2017). " The first freeze is coming Saturday and, for most of the D.C. area, it's historically late". The Washington Post.Livingston, Ian; Grieser, Justin (April 3, 2018). " When will the last freeze happen around the D.C. region, and when is it safe to plant?" The Washington Post.


Cityscape
Washington, D.C., is a . In 1791, President Washington commissioned Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant, a French-born architect and city planner, to design the new capital. He enlisted Scottish surveyor Alexander Ralston to help lay out the city plan. The L'Enfant Plan featured broad streets and avenues radiating out from rectangles, providing room for open space and landscaping. He based his design on plans of cities such as , , , and that had sent to him.
(2021). 9789042025745, Rodopi B.V.. .
L'Enfant's design also envisioned a garden-lined "grand avenue" approximately in length and wide in the area that is now the National Mall. President Washington dismissed L'Enfant in March 1792 due to conflicts with the three commissioners appointed to supervise the capital's construction. , who had worked with L'Enfant surveying the city, was then tasked with completing the design. Though Ellicott made revisions to the original plans—including changes to some street patterns—L'Enfant is still credited with the overall design of the city.

By the early 20th century, L'Enfant's vision of a grand national capital had become marred by slums and randomly placed buildings, including a railroad station on the National Mall. Congress formed a special committee charged with beautifying Washington's ceremonial core. What became known as the was finalized in 1901 and included re-landscaping the Capitol grounds and the National Mall, clearing slums, and establishing a new citywide park system. The plan is thought to have largely preserved L'Enfant's intended design.

By law, Washington's skyline is low and sprawling. The federal Height of Buildings Act of 1910 allows buildings that are no taller than the width of the adjacent street, plus . Despite popular belief, no law has ever limited buildings to the height of the United States Capitol Building or the Washington Monument, which remains the district's tallest structure. City leaders have criticized the height restriction as a primary reason why the district has limited affordable housing and traffic problems caused by suburban sprawl.

The district is divided into four quadrants of unequal area: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southeast (SE), and Southwest (SW). The axes bounding the quadrants radiate from the U.S. Capitol building. All road names include the quadrant abbreviation to indicate their location and house numbers generally correspond with the number of blocks away from the Capitol. Most streets are set out in a grid pattern with east–west streets named with letters (e.g., C Street SW), north–south streets with numbers (e.g., 4th Street NW), and diagonal avenues, many of which are named after states.

The City of Washington was bordered by Boundary Street to the north (renamed in 1890), Rock Creek to the west, and the Anacostia River to the east. Washington's street grid was extended, where possible, throughout the district starting in 1888. Georgetown's streets were renamed in 1895. Some streets are particularly noteworthy, such as Pennsylvania Avenue—which connects the White House to the Capitol, and K Street—which houses the offices of many lobbying groups. Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, located on the north and south sides of the National Mall, respectively, are home to many of Washington's iconic museums, including the Smithsonian Institution buildings, the National Archives Building. Washington hosts 177 foreign embassies, constituting approximately 297 buildings beyond the more than 1,600 residential properties owned by foreign countries, many of which are on a section of Massachusetts Avenue informally known as .


Architecture
The architecture of Washington varies greatly. Six of the top 10 buildings in the American Institute of Architects' 2007 ranking of "America's Favorite Architecture" are in the District of Columbia: the , the Washington National Cathedral, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the United States Capitol, the , and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The neoclassical, Georgian, gothic, and modern architectural styles are all reflected among those six structures and many other prominent edifices in Washington. Notable exceptions include buildings constructed in the French Second Empire style such as the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Outside downtown Washington, architectural styles are even more varied. Historic buildings are designed primarily in the Queen Anne, Châteauesque, Richardsonian Romanesque, Georgian revival, Beaux-Arts, and a variety of Victorian styles. Rowhouses are especially prominent in areas developed after the Civil War and typically follow Federalist and late Victorian designs. Georgetown's Old Stone House was built in 1765, making it the oldest-standing original building in the city. Founded in 1789, Georgetown University features a mix of Romanesque and Gothic Revival architecture. The Ronald Reagan Building is the largest building in the district with a total area of approximately 3.1 million square feet (288,000 m2).


Demographics
{| class="wikitable sortable collapsible" style="font-size: 90%;" |- ! Demographic profile !2020

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