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Washington D.C.


§ Washington D.C. (District of Columbia) is the national capital of the USA, it is the seat of the federal government
§ It covers an area of 180 sq km, population is 623,000 (the metropolitan area around 3,750,000). Racial mix is roughly 70% black an 30% white
§ It is situated on the Potomac River, about 90 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean

§ The District of Columbia was established by Act of Congress in 1790 and was first used as the seat of Congress in 1800. The site for the capital was chosen by President Washington himself (his plantation Mount Vernon was 16 miles down the Potomac)
§ It was designed by the French engineer Pierre L´Enfant and was helped by Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of the USA). Streets and avenues were laid out on the grid scheme, the former were numbered, the latter were named after the states of the Union. It was divided into four quadrants (Northwest NW, SW,NE, SE). The Capitol was in the center
§ Height Buildings Act in 1910 stated that no structures could exceed 15 stories, so Wash. would remain a horizontal and spacious city.
§ 1973 – Subway system (Metrorail), began operation

Industry and Commerce:
§ Washington hasn’t developed into a major port, because the Potomac River is too shallow
§ Principal industry is government, the second largest industry is tourism, only 5% of workers are involved in manufacturing. 360,000 are employed by the Federal Government
§ Hundreds of national and international organizations, such as World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have offices here. There is a number of scientific and development complexes, Pentagon draws innumerable defense contracting companies. Around 150 foreign embassies and consulates are based in the city
§ 10,000 lobbyists (who work to persuade legislators to support laws helpful to their clients´ interests) maintain a strong presence in political and social affairs
§ The Washington Post, the USA Today, National Geographic have here their headquarters

§ Three major airports are: Washington National Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Dulles International Airport
§ The only railroad station is the Union Station (built in 1907)
§ City buses are known as Metrobus, Greyhound-Trailways are for long distances
§ The subway system is called Metro

Places of Interest:
§ Most prominent landmark is the Capitol building that is on the Capitol Hill.

Senate Wing is in the north, the House of Representatives is in the south. On the top is the bronze Statue of Freedom
§ Thomas Jefferson Building, Union Station, City Post Office and Supreme Court are further extensions of the Capitol
§ Supreme Court is positioned across the street from Capitol
§ Library of Congress is the largest library in existence which contains over 90 million items, and it serves as a national library
§ The world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s works can be found in Folger Shakespeare Library
§ There are many nation’s remarkable monuments and many museums on the Mall
§ Washington Monument is the capital’s most conspicuous landmark. It is the white marble obelisk in the middle of the Mall, ringed by US flags
§ Jefferson Memorial is an adaptation of the ancient Roman Pantheon. The open-air interior is dominated by a bronze statue of T. Jefferson holding the Declaration of Independence
§ Lincoln Memorial is famous for marble statue of seated Lincoln.
§ Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a simple black granite wall engraved with the names of those who were lost in the Vietnam War. § Arlington Cemetery is country’s most revered burial ground; contains graves of over 200,000 military personnel. Also W.H. Taft and J.F. Kennedy are buried here
§ Pentagon is the largest single structure building in the world, it is the headquarter of the Department of Defense
§ To the north of the Washington Monument stands the president’s residence- the White House. First president to occupy the building was the second President – John Adams. Official rooms are on the first floor, the second and third floors are reserved for the family

Shopping and parks:
§ Shopping areas are on Wisconsin Avenue, Connecticut Avenue. Exclusive malls are Watergate and Willard Collection. There are many antique and bookstores on Capitol Hill
§ Most attractive parks are West and East Potomac Parks and Constitution Gardens

§ The biggest concentration of museums can be found on the East Mall. The most outstanding is the Smithsonian Institution. It is comprised of 14 museums and the National Zoo.

Its symbol is the red sandstone Castle, which functions as a visitor’s information center
§ The National Gallery of Art functions as an independent institution and includes one of the finest Italian works in the world (Tizian, da Vinci)
§ The Corcoran Gallery is the capital’s oldest gallery opened in 1874
§ National Archives hold the nation’s documentary treasures such as Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and a 1297 version of England’s Magna Charta

§ Among many other theaters the most notable is John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
§ The National Theater focuses on plays and musicals
§ In Ford’s Theater was President Lincoln shot by the actor J. W. Booth in 1865

§ Two oldest and best reputed universities are Georgetown University (1789) and George Washington University (1821)

§ Mount Vernon was George Washington’s private mansion and lies 16 miles down the Potomac. The house and furnishing are authentic to Washington’s final years. He and his wife are buried here.

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