District of Columbia

As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in February/March 2016, so this post may not be representative of this site today.

The area today known as Washington, D.C. was first settled at least 4,000 years ago. It was once inhabited by various Algonquian-speaking tribes, part of the Piscataway people. More specifically, the Nacotchtank maintained settlements around the Anacostia River, which is today the capital city of the United States. European colonists and conflicts with them forced the relocation of the Piscataway after the 17th century, and some of them established a new settlement in 1699 near Point of Rocks, Maryland.

After the Pennsylvania Mutiny, which took place in Philadelphia in 1783, the government decided it would need a federal city to vie for its own safety without leaning on any one state. As such, the District of Columbia was established as the seat of government in 1790, its location selected by President George Washington in land donated by the states of Virginia and Maryland. The city was named after the president in 1791, with the federal district named Columbia, a poetic name used for the United States at the time. Congress held its first session there on November 17, 1800.

While growing in population, the city’s technological progress was notoriously slow, and some in Congress proposed to move the capital farther west, where they could have paved streets and basic sanitation. However, the president at the time, Ulysses S. Grant, refused to consider such a proposal. The city eventually expanded its urban plan, and had its first motorized streetcars in 1888. In the early 1900s, it was the first city to undergo an urban renewal project part of the City Beautiful movement.

The city is home to a number of monuments and museums, including the White House, the Capitol, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial the Library of Congress, and the the National Gallery.

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