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WASHINGTON HISTORY - HISTORY OF WASHINGTON DC

Washington HistoryWashington History – Following the American Revolutionary War, the U.S. Congress undertook a search for a location for what was to become the permanent seat of the new government. President George Washington selected a site along the Potomac River. Once the land was acquired, Pierre Charles L’Enfant was chosen to design the city. L’Enfant envisioned a city in the style of a European capital complete with monuments, grandiose buildings and wide boulevards.

This city-to-be was named both the “Territory of Columbia” (to honour Christopher Columbus) and the “City of Washington” (to honour George Washington). Unfortunately the capital went unfinished. Rather than the majestic city that was designed, Washington arose in a haphazard manner. In 1793 construction finally began on both the President’s Home and the U.S. Capitol. However it wasn’t until 1800 that the President’s Home was occupied by John Adams. The U.S. Capitol was barely finished when in 1814, British troops torched the brand new U.S. Capitol. Though the U.S. Capitol was rebuilt, the burning of the building caused an emotional slump that took the city years to recover.

Ironically it was the Civil War which forced the prominence of Washington. Due to its strategic location in the south and along the Potomac River, the Civil War brought hospitals, bivouacs and the armies of both the North and the South to it. President Lincoln refused to halt the reconstruction of the U.S. Capitol’s Dome during the war and after Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater, the city changed into a symbol of the federalism which united the country.

The monuments, museums and parks, which define the city, were not added until the early 20th century. Subsequent to the beautification plan, the construction of the Kennedy Center heralded a movement to establish Washington as a culture centre rivalling the great capitals of the world.

The city has both benefited and paid the price of being the nation’s capital. Its political power draws tourists from every corner of the earth annually. However its chronic mismanagement has also led to poverty, crime and violence for its inhabitants. On September 11, 2001 terrorists hijacked an airplane and flew it into the Pentagon causing significant damage and killing all the passengers on board as well as a number of personnel at the Pentagon. It was also later discovered that terrorists had hijacked another plane destined for Washington D.C.. However this plane crashed in Pennsylvania without ever reaching its destination. The same day two planes crashed into the World Trade Centers in New York City killing over 2500 people. This was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Despite its problems the city has remained resilient and has built itself back from the terrorist attacks of 2001 and continues to address the problems of the 1990’s. As a testament to its successes, tourists are flooding back to Washington to take advantage of all of its wonders.

 

Washington Hotel & Travel Information Guide