Washington D.C on the Potomac River was decided to be the capital of the United States of America, with the idea that the federal government should sit in a location that did not belong to any of the 50 states. George Washington commissioned this city from land belonging to both the states of Maryland and Virginia.
The federal District of Columbia is a location that houses all important Central government landmarks, monuments and offices. Pennsylvania Avenue is one street connecting two quintessential national symbols - the US President's home, the White House and the domed Capitol Building. If you are visiting Washington D.C, there are dozens of tourist locations on the northwest quadrant of the city to visit and enjoy. Weather wise, summers can be hot and humid, winters are covered in snow, and so, spring and fall win the contest. Here is Part 1 of top must-see sites for you to pen down into your itinerary.
The White House
The elected President of the United States of America moves to the White House, and calls it their official residence for the next 5 years of tenure. Except for George Washington, this gorgeous, white edifice has been home to every President. Built in the late 1700s, it was burned down by the British in 1814, and rebuilt in 1818.
Tours of the grand interiors can be reserved well in advance through the Embassy or the Congressional Office. You can always just see this iconic property from the outside. The White House Visitor Center has exhibits showing historical details and changes over time in the house, and videos and pictures of all the families that have lived in it.
The lawn of the White House, called the Ellipse, hosts concerts from the US Army band, and other functions throughout the year. Do not miss the striking government buildings that neighbor the White House, the Treasury Building and the Executive Office Building. Lafayette Square holds stately statues of Lafayette and others overlooking the White House.
Capitol Hill and Capitol Building
The Capitol, famous for its huge dome, can be classified as the first governing body in the U.S.A, the seat of the House of Representatives in the right wing, and the Senate in the left wing. This is the tallest building, and has been expanded overtime. The last addition was in 1968, enlarging the main frontage where the President takes the oath.
Tours can be reserved online or through the visitor center on the lower level, and begin with the exhibition of the history of the building and its past occupants. The interior is almost like a museum with ornate paintings related to American history. As you continue to walk further to enter the rotunda under the cast-iron dome, you cannot miss the ceiling that is painted by Constantino Brumidi.
Statues of historical figures line the Chamber of the House of Representatives. The Senate ceilings and corridor walls are filled with paintings by Brumidi, who is also called the architect of the capital. If you want to visit a Senate while in session and watch proceedings, you can contact your Senator or Representative for a pass.
The Library of Congress is the world's largest library. It can be accessed through an underground passage from the Capitol, modeled after the Opera House in Paris. Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence finds a home within the library's resplendent interiors. There are other precious works in music, editorials, graphic arts and one of the three surviving hand-printed Gutenberg Bibles.
The Lincoln Memorial
This most loved memorial hosts a 19-foot marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln, sitting smack in the center of the monument, and surrounded by 36 columns representing the 36 US states existing during his time. The murals on the inside of the walls show iconic events of Lincoln's lifetime. Visiting the monument at night, in fact all the monuments in Washington DC, is a unique experience, they are all lighted and are open 24x7. The statue of Lincoln is especially more powerfully lit, and looks strong and vivid with contrasting dark interiors and lit white columns.
Many historically important events have transpired here. Despite serious opposition at the time, President Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt invited the well known African American singer, Marian Anderson to perform in an open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The event was attended by 75,000 citizens and radio broadcast to millions. "I have a dream...", the historical speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was delivered here on the steps again, attended by thousands.
The Washington Monument
This tribute to the first President of the U.S.A is a tall, about 500 foot, white shaft; and is a grand sight, especially if you visualize it mirrored within the Reflecting Pool. The construction took a long time, with many breaks, and so you can easily see separate stages with color changes on the stones. It is designed like an Egyptian obelisk, and is a display of reverence, gratitude and wonder that the Americans feel for their founding father.
Elevators are available to take you to the very top of the monument for aerial views of the whole of Washington. The base of the monument is surrounded by a circle of 50 US flags, representing the 50 states.
There are other prestigious properties that are a must-see in Washington D.C. Part 1 explores our top four picks, and the next installment will cover some more. Visiting the capital offers you a unique look into the thought process behind the creation and growth of this great nation.
Anything great starts with a vision.
Washington D.C offers you a glimpse into the vision of the great leaders of America, who built this country from the ground up with the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. They nurtured seeds of growth in all their descendant citizens, who continue their work of making this country great.
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