Native Washingtonians and those who already live for a long time here, simply call their town "D.C.". Washington, a quiet business capital, gradually grows into a grand complex of monuments, museums and places of interest in American history. That’s why many people visit this city. Buildings of relatively low height are one of the characteristic features of Washington. The Capitol is the tallest building in the town. It is located on K Street that is the most densely populated part of the town. The lawyers and politicians have their offices here but the offices are located not higher than the 12th floor. As a consequence of this architecture Washington streets are more light and large, than in any American city. Therefore, it is a pleasure to stroll around the city, it is a paradise for walkers, with its wide avenues and breathtaking views of the radial streets starting from the central ring Pierre Charles Langfang. Walking you can suddenly see the very top of the Washington Monument, ascended over the roofs of the modern office buildings. This is the way the business capital exists side by side with the capital of monuments and museums. It is the essence of Washington.
History of Washington
Washington was initiated in 1791. The city was named in the honor of George Washington, the first United States President. The plan of the new town was made by the famous French engineer Pierre Langfang and Thomas Jefferson in 1790-1793 years. Washington had to be a city with streets disposed in a rectangle. When Washington was officially declared the capital of the United States in 1800, the presidential residence, the U.S. Congress and a number of major government agencies were moved there from Philadelphia. All institutions of state political control are located in the capital up till now. Many large buildings began to be erected in the capital at the beginning of the 1800s. However, when the U.S. and the UK war broke out in Washington, in 1812, the British troops invaded the city and caused huge damage. The buildings were destroyed and burned, but the economy recovered, and the houses were rebuilt at the end of hostilities in 1814. Large industrial enterprises began to be built in Washington in the second half of the XIX century during the period of the rapid development of capitalism. New residential areas located in the north-west and south-west were built in the city in recent decades. Government and business buildings were built in the city center in the same period. The areas of the urban slums, where representatives of the poor, mostly African descent live, are located in the northeast and southeast Washington. Luxury villas and cottages are built in suburban areas.
The White House is the official residence of the U.S. President since 1800. The building is a relatively small two floors mansion with a decorated portico with central, from which the two wings depart. The building’s name matches the color of the exterior walls. But the interior is decorated with a variety of colors and even wear the corresponding names: the Blue oval room is for the receptions, and the Green room is for informal meetings. The first presidential wedding was celebrated here on June 3, 1886, President Stephen Grover Cleveland married the 24 years old Frances Folsom, the daughter of his friend and legal partner. The bride was 25 years younger than the groom.
The U.S. Congress decided to build the Capitol on Capitol Hill having as example the modeled of the Roman state. The building has two identical blocks for the meetings of both the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate and the central part named Rotunda. The main hall of the rotunda is decorated with paintings, frescoes and sculptures of famous men in America. Rotunda is considered to be the center of the city. The Rotunda and other facilities are opened to the public. You can even assist the meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Capitol dome rests on the colonnade reminiscent of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The dome is crowned by an elegant lamp with the statue of Liberty on the top.
The Palace of Justice
The Palace of Justice (U.S. Supreme Court) was built on the Capitol Square in 1935. The court was placed in the Capitol building before this. If you climb the stairs of the Supreme Court, you can make a keepsake photo of allegorical sculptures of "Reflections of justice" and "Rule of law". U.S. Supreme Court is opened to the public. Visitors are offered guided tours. You can watch movies, listen to lectures or see the real trial.
Library of Congress
The three buildings of Library of Congress are located on the same Capitol Square. The buildings have the names of the American States founding fathers John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The Library of Congress is one of the largest in the world. It stores 26 million books, more than 36 million manuscripts, maps, photos, and 23 U.S. presidents’ files. The building itself is a work of art. This is the oldest public cultural institution of the country and the largest library in the world. Its interiors are work of art, that’s why the Library of Congress is one of the main attractions of Washington.
George Washington Memorial
George Washington Memorial is the central building of the National Mall, and one of the most famous landmarks. An observation deck is situated at the top of the 169 meters high, symbolizing the strength of the first American president. An amazing view on the U.S. capital, including the White House, Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial is opened from there. There is a mirrored pond between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Memorial. This pond is 2000 feet long and 160 feet wide and contains 7 million gallons of water. It was created having as a model the Versailles and the Taj Mahal ponds.
The Pentagon (the building of the Ministry of Defence) is the only ministerial building, situated away from the Mall, on the opposite bank of the Potomac River. It basically could not be built on the Mall because of the unique architectural design and the construction scale. The Pentagon is the largest building in the world by the floor space area. The architecture represents five pentagons, embedded in each other and connected by transitions. You just need your passport to enter the building of the Ministry of Defense and you miss a gate, through a metal detector. The secret building took up hundred thousand tourists annually in recent years. The building has a courtyard, which houses a grocery store that services the department employees. According to a local legend, the Soviet military analysts had assumed during the Cold War that under this small building was a bunker, spy satellites recorded that a lot of people constantly enter and live the building. That’s why, supposedly, the Soviet nuclear missiles were targeted right on the grocery store.
The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest complex, which includes 14 museums and about 100 million items. This is the National Museum of History, National Art Gallery, National Gallery of Art, Museum of Natural History, Sculpture Garden, National Air and Space Museum and many other galleries. The building is the first museum of a large complex, known as the Castle. It was built in Norman style, by James Renwick, the architect of the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. The Castle building was completed in 1855 and it originally housed all the art collections and research laboratories in it. The Smithsonian Institution is not only a complex of museums, but also an extensive research center and educational institution.
Arlington National Cemetery
The veterans who participated in all wars since the American Revolution and ending with the war in the Persian Gulf, as well as presidents, the Supreme Court chairmen and the astronauts are buried at the cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery is visited by about 4 million people each year. The most visited sites in the cemetery are the grave of Unknown Soldier and the grave of former President John F. Kennedy, where an eternal flame burns.
The National Museum of Natural History represents a lot of bones. The skeletons and the remains of many other extant and extinct animals can be found here. The lobby of the museum is a circular room with a dome in the center of which stands the figure of an elephant, surrounded by Ionic and Doric columns. There is also a zoo of insects and the diamond "Hope". But natural history is dedicated not only to these artifacts, there are also exhibitions of Asian, African and American cultures. The National Museum of Natural History is visited by a lot of children, that’s why you are always among a crowd of screaming children here.
The National Museum of American History is a place where you can learn more about the most vivid historical events of America. You can found out here about the development of science, technology, social life and female presidents dresses. The exhibition "Science in American life" delicately shows how to create an atomic bomb. It also provided intriguing information about the history of birth control in the country. You can visit the exhibition "The Age of Information Technology" and learn the history of the women invasion into politics.
The National Museum of American Indians is the repository of culture, covering the life, languages, literature, history and art of local residents of the western hemisphere. The five-storey curved building with an area of 22 200 m ², armored with gold-plated limestone, is like a mountain sculpture, carved by the wind and water during thousands of years. The museum, surrounded by swamps, covers an area of 1.72 hectares. The east entrance to the museum, the windows in the shape of a prism and an area of 36.58 m in height for productions and performances is the result of long negotiations with the natives of the country. The museum offers a wide range of exhibitions, films, school trips, national programs and presentations the whole year. The National Museum of American Indians collection is composed of more than 800,000 artifacts and photographs from the archives of more than 125 000 images. The collection became part of the Smithsonian legacy in June 1990, beginning with the George Gustav Heye, traveling throughout the country in search of historical monuments. The collection lasted 54 years. The cafeteria where you can taste the cuisine of different regions of the country, such as wooded areas of North and South America, North-western coast and valleys, foothills of the Great Plateau is the feature of the museum. Each dish reflects the lifestyle and the traditions of local people through the use of special cooking techniques, specialty ingredients and additives.
The National Archives stores the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the "Bill of Rights". Unfortunately, with special lighting to prevent the documents damage to, their contents can barely make out. However, it is an honor to see these priceless documents. The contents of these documents are the basis of the idea of "American Dream". But the documents are made not only for a "system of government". Anyone who wishes can use the library of the National Archives and Records Administration. The metal detector is set at the entrance to the exhibition hall. The use of cameras is prohibited.
The National Art Gallery was established by the Congress in 1941. Its collection consists mainly of private investments. The works of European painting and sculpture of XIII-XIX centuries and American art can be enjoyed in the western building. The east wing presents exhibitions of the XX century works and the special exhibition, the content of which varies periodically. The two wings are connected by a long corridor, where the escalator is used for the movement. There are shops and fine art of literature here.
Washington is a beautiful city, where everyone will find something to see. The Capitol is in the center of town. The famous boulevard National Mall length of two kilometers was stretched from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. The city has many museums, theaters, shopping areas and buildings housed by government offices.
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