This article is about the capital of the United States. For the U.S. state, see Washington (state)
The three branches of the U.S. federal government are centered in the district: Congress (legislative), the president (executive), and the Supreme Court
(judicial). Washington is home to many national monuments and museums
, primarily situated on or around the National Mall
. The city hosts 177 foreign embassies
as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, lobbying groups, and professional associations, including the World Bank Group
, the International Monetary Fund
, the Organization of American States
, the AARP
, the National Geographic Society
, the Human Rights Campaign
, the International Finance Corporation
, and the American Red Cross
In his Federalist No. 43
, published January 23, 1788, James Madison
argued that the new federal government would need authority over a national capital to provide for its own maintenance and safety.
Five years earlier, a band of unpaid soldiers had besieged Congress while its members were meeting in Philadelphia
. Known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783
, the event emphasized the need for the national government not to rely on any state for its own security.
On July 9, 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act
, which approved the creation of a national capital on the Potomac River
. The exact location was to be selected by President George Washington
, who signed the bill into law on July 16. Formed from land donated by the states of Maryland and Virginia, the initial shape of the federal district was a square measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (259 km2
A new federal city
was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the three commissioners overseeing the capital's construction named the city in honor of President Washington. The same day, the federal district was named Columbia (a feminine form of "Columbus
"), which was a poetic name for the United States
commonly in use at that time.
Congress held its first session there on November 17, 1800.
Congress passed the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801
which officially organized the district and placed the entire territory under the exclusive control
of the federal government. Further, the unincorporated area within the district was organized into two counties: the County of Washington
to the east of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria
to the west.
After the passage of this Act, citizens living in the district were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, which therefore ended their representation in Congress.
Burning during the War of 1812
On August 24–25, 1814, in a raid known as the Burning of Washington
, British forces invaded the capital during the War of 1812
. The Capitol
, and White House
were burned and gutted during the attack.
Most government buildings were repaired quickly; however, the Capitol was largely under construction at the time and was not completed in its current form until 1868.
Retrocession and the Civil War
In the 1830s, the district's southern territory of Alexandria went into economic decline partly due to neglect by Congress.
The city of Alexandria was a major market in the American slave trade
, and pro-slavery residents feared that abolitionists
in Congress would end slavery
in the district, further depressing the economy. Alexandria's citizens petitioned Virginia to take back the land it had donated to form the district, through a process known as retrocession
The Virginia General Assembly
voted in February 1846 to accept the return of Alexandria and on July 9, 1846, Congress agreed to return all the territory that had been ceded by Virginia. Therefore, the district's area consists only of the portion originally donated by Maryland.
Confirming the fears of pro-slavery Alexandrians, the Compromise of 1850
outlawed the slave trade in the district, although not slavery itself.
Growth and redevelopment
By 1870, the district's population had grown 75% from the previous census to nearly 132,000 residents.
Despite the city's growth, Washington still had dirt roads and lacked basic sanitation. Some members of Congress suggested moving the capital further west, but President Ulysses S. Grant
refused to consider such a proposal.
Congress passed the Organic Act of 1871
, which repealed the individual charters of the cities of Washington and Georgetown, and created a new territorial government for the whole District of Columbia.
President Grant appointed Alexander Robey Shepherd
to the position of governor in 1873. Shepherd authorized large-scale projects that greatly modernized the City of Washington, but ultimately bankrupted the district government. In 1874, Congress replaced the territorial government with an appointed three-member Board of Commissioners.
The city's first motorized streetcars
began service in 1888 and generated growth in areas of the district beyond the City of Washington's original boundaries. Washington's urban plan was expanded throughout the district in the following decades.
Georgetown's street grid and other administrative details were formally merged to those of the legal City of Washington in 1895.
However, the city had poor housing conditions and strained public works. The district was the first city in the nation to undergo urban renewal
projects as part of the "City Beautiful movement
" in the early 1900s.
Increased federal spending as a result of the New Deal
in the 1930s led to the construction of new government buildings, memorials, and museums in the district,
though the chairman of the House Subcommittee on District Appropriations Ross A. Collins
justified cuts to funds for welfare and education for local residents, saying that "my constituents wouldn't stand for spending money on niggers."
World War II
further increased government activity, adding to the number of federal employees in the capital;
by 1950, the district's population reached its peak of 802,178 residents.
Civil rights and home rule era
Satellite photo of Washington, D.C. by ESA
Washington, D.C., is located in the mid-Atlantic region
of the U.S. East Coast
. Due to the District of Columbia retrocession
, the city has a total area of 68.34 square miles (177 km2
), of which 61.05 square miles (158.1 km2
) is land and 7.29 square miles (18.9 km2
) (10.67%) is water.
The district is bordered by Montgomery County, Maryland
to the northwest; Prince George's County, Maryland
to the east; Arlington County, Virginia
to the west; and Alexandria, Virginia
to the south. Washington, D.C., is 38 miles (61 km) from Baltimore
, 124 miles (200 km) from Philadelphia
and 227 miles (365 km) from New York City
The highest natural elevation in the district is 409 feet (125 m) above sea level
at Fort Reno Park
in upper northwest Washington.
The lowest point is sea level at the Potomac River.
The geographic center of Washington is near the intersection of 4th and L Streets NW.
The district has 7,464 acres (30.21 km2
) of parkland, about 19% of the city's total area and the second-highest percentage among high-density U.S. cities.
This factor contributed to Washington, D.C., being ranked as third in the nation for park access and quality in the 2018 ParkScore ranking of the park systems of the 100 most populous cities in the United States, according to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land
The National Park Service
manages most of the 9,122 acres (36.92 km2
) of city land owned by the U.S. government. Rock Creek Park
is a 1,754-acre (7.10 km2
) urban forest in Northwest Washington, which extends 9.3 miles (15.0 km) through a stream valley that bisects the city. Established in 1890, it is the country's fourth-oldest national park and is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including raccoon, deer, owls, and coyotes.
Other National Park Service properties include the C&O Canal National Historical Park
, the National Mall and Memorial Parks
, Theodore Roosevelt Island
, Columbia Island
, Fort Dupont Park
, Meridian Hill Park
, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
, and Anacostia Park
The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation
maintains the city's 900 acres (3.6 km2
) of athletic fields and playgrounds, 40 swimming pools, and 68 recreation centers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture
operates the 446-acre (1.80 km2
) U.S. National Arboretum
in Northeast Washington.
Spring and fall are mild to warm, while winter is cool with annual snowfall averaging 15.5 inches (39 cm). Winter temperatures average around 38 °F (3 °C) from mid-December to mid-February.
However, winter temperatures in excess of 60 °F (16 °C) are not uncommon.
Summers are hot and humid with a July daily average of 79.8 °F (26.6 °C) and average daily relative humidity around 66%, which can cause moderate personal discomfort. Heat indices regularly approach 100 °F (38 °C) at the height of summer.
The combination of heat and humidity in the summer brings very frequent thunderstorms, some of which occasionally produce tornadoes in the area.
Blizzards affect Washington, on average, once every four to six years. The most violent storms are called "nor'easters
", which often affect large sections of the East Coast.
From January 27 to 28, 1922
, the city officially received 28 inches (71 cm) of snowfall, the largest snowstorm since official measurements began in 1885.
According to notes kept at the time, the city received between 30 and 36 inches (76 and 91 cm) from a snowstorm in January 1772.
Hurricanes (or their remnants) occasionally track through the area in late summer and early fall but are often weak by the time they reach Washington, partly due to the city's inland location.
Flooding of the Potomac River, however, caused by a combination of high tide, storm surge, and runoff, has been known to cause extensive property damage in the neighborhood of Georgetown
Precipitation occurs throughout the year.
The highest recorded temperature was 106 °F (41 °C) on August 6, 1918, and on July 20, 1930.
while the lowest recorded temperature was −15 °F (−26 °C) on February 11, 1899
, right before the Great Blizzard of 1899
During a typical year, the city averages about 37 days at or above 90 °F (32 °C) and 64 nights at or below the freezing mark (32 °F or 0 °C).
On average, the first day with a minimum at or below freezing is November 18 and the last day is March 27.
Washington, D.C., is a planned city
. In 1791, President Washington commissioned Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant
, a French-born architect and city planner, to design the new capital. He enlisted Scottish surveyor Alexander Ralston
to help lay out the city plan.
The L'Enfant Plan
featured broad streets and avenues radiating out from rectangles, providing room for open space and landscaping.
He based his design on plans of cities such as Paris
, and Milan
that Thomas Jefferson
had sent to him.
L'Enfant's design also envisioned a garden-lined "grand avenue" approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) in length and 400 feet (120 m) wide in the area that is now the National Mall.
President Washington dismissed L'Enfant in March 1792 due to conflicts with the three commissioners appointed to supervise the capital's construction. Andrew Ellicott
, who had worked with L'Enfant surveying the city, was then tasked with completing the design. Though Ellicott made revisions to the original plans—including changes to some street patterns—L'Enfant is still credited with the overall design of the city.
By the early 20th century, L'Enfant's vision of a grand national capital had become marred by slums and randomly placed buildings, including a railroad station on the National Mall. Congress formed a special committee charged with beautifying Washington's ceremonial core.
What became known as the McMillan Plan
was finalized in 1901 and included re-landscaping the Capitol grounds and the National Mall, clearing slums, and establishing a new citywide park system. The plan is thought to have largely preserved L'Enfant's intended design.
By law, Washington's skyline is low and sprawling. The federal Height of Buildings Act of 1910
allows buildings that are no taller than the width of the adjacent street, plus 20 feet (6.1 m).
Despite popular belief, no law has ever limited buildings to the height of the United States Capitol Building or the 555-foot (169 m) Washington Monument
which remains the district's tallest structure. City leaders have criticized the height restriction as a primary reason why the district has limited affordable housing and traffic problems caused by suburban sprawl.
The district is divided into four quadrants
of unequal area: Northwest (NW)
, Northeast (NE)
, Southeast (SE)
, and Southwest (SW)
. The axes bounding the quadrants radiate from the U.S. Capitol building.
All road names include the quadrant abbreviation to indicate their location and house numbers generally correspond with the number of blocks away from the Capitol. Most streets are set out in a grid pattern with east–west streets named with letters (e.g., C Street SW), north–south streets with numbers (e.g., 4th Street NW), and diagonal avenues, many of which are named after states
The City of Washington was bordered by Boundary Street to the north (renamed Florida Avenue
in 1890), Rock Creek to the west, and the Anacostia River to the east.
Washington's street grid was extended, where possible, throughout the district starting in 1888. Georgetown's streets
were renamed in 1895.
Some streets are particularly noteworthy, such as Pennsylvania Avenue
—which connects the White House to the Capitol, and K Street
—which houses the offices of many lobbying groups. Constitution Avenue
and Independence Avenue
, located on the north and south sides of the National Mall, respectively, are home to many of Washington's iconic museums, including the Smithsonian institutions
, the National Archives Building
, and the Newseum
. Washington hosts 177 foreign embassies
, constituting approximately 297 buildings beyond the more than 1,600 residential properties owned by foreign countries, many of which are on a section of Massachusetts Avenue
informally known as Embassy Row
According to 2017 Census Bureau data, the population of Washington, D.C., was 47.1% Black or African American, 45.1% White (36.8% non-Hispanic White), 4.3% Asian
, 0.6% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Individuals from two or more races made up 2.7% of the population. Hispanics of any race made up 11.0% of the district's population.
Map of racial distribution in Washington, D.C., according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)
Washington has had a significant African American population
since the city's foundation.
African American residents compose about 30% of the district's total population between 1800 and 1940.
The black population reached a peak of 70% by 1970, but has since steadily declined due to many African Americans moving to the surrounding suburbs. Partly as a result of gentrification
, there was a 31.4% increase in the non-Hispanic white population and an 11.5% decrease in the black population between 2000 and 2010.
According to a study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, D.C. has experienced more "intense" gentrification than any other American city, with 40% of neighborhoods gentrified.
About 17% of D.C. residents were age 18 or younger in 2010, lower than the U.S. average of 24%. However, at 34 years old, the district had the lowest median age compared to the 50 states.
As of 2010, there were an estimated 81,734 immigrants
living in Washington, D.C.
Major sources of immigration include El Salvador
, and Ethiopia
, with a concentration of Salvadorans in the Mount Pleasant
Researchers found that there were 4,822 same-sex couples in the District of Columbia in 2010, about 2% of total households.
Legislation authorizing same-sex marriage
passed in 2009, and the district began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March 2010.
A 2007 report found that about a third of district residents were functionally illiterate
, compared to a national rate of about one in five. This is attributed in part to immigrants who are not proficient in English.
As of 2011, 85% of D.C. residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language.
Half of residents had at least a four-year college degree in 2006.
In 2017, the median household income in D.C. was $77,649;
also in 2017, D.C. residents had a personal income per capita
of $50,832 (higher than any of the 50 states).
However, 19% of residents were below the poverty level in 2005, higher than any state except Mississippi
. In 2019, the poverty rate stood at 14.7%.[f]
Of the district's population, 17% is Baptist
, 13% is Catholic
, 6% is evangelical Protestant
, 4% is Methodist
, 3% is Episcopalian
, 3% is Jewish
, 2% is Eastern Orthodox
, 1% is Pentecostal
, 1% is Buddhist
, 1% is Adventist
, 1% is Lutheran
, 1% is Muslim
, 1% is Presbyterian
, 1% is Mormon
, and 1% is Hindu
As of 2010, more than 90% of D.C. residents had health insurance coverage, the second-highest rate in the nation. This is due in part to city programs that help provide insurance to low-income individuals who do not qualify for other types of coverage.
A 2009 report found that at least three percent of district residents have HIV or AIDS, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) characterizes as a "generalized and severe" epidemic.
Crime in Washington, D.C., is concentrated in areas associated with poverty, drug abuse, and gangs. A 2010 study found that 5 percent of city blocks accounted for more than 25% of the district's total crimes.
The more affluent neighborhoods of Northwest Washington are typically safe, especially in areas with concentrations of government operations, such as Downtown Washington, D.C.
, Foggy Bottom
, Embassy Row
, and Penn Quarter, but reports of violent crime increase in poorer neighborhoods generally concentrated in the eastern portion of the city.
Approximately 60,000 residents are ex-convicts.
In 2012, Washington's annual murder count had dropped to 88, the lowest total since 1961.
The murder rate has since risen from that historic low, though it remains close to half the rate of the early 2000s.
Washington was once described as the "murder capital" of the United States during the early 1990s.
The number of murders peaked in 1991 at 479, but the level of violence then began to decline significantly.
In 2016, the district's Metropolitan Police Department tallied 135 homicides, a 53% increase from 2012 but a 17% decrease from 2015.
Many neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights
and Logan Circle
are becoming safer and vibrant. However, incidents of robberies and thefts have remained higher in these areas because of increased nightlife activity and greater numbers of affluent residents.
Even still, citywide reports of both property and violent crimes have declined by nearly half since their most recent highs in the mid-1990s.
Washington has a growing, diversified economy with an increasing percentage of professional and business service jobs.
The district's gross state product in 2018-Q2 was $141 billion.
The Washington Metropolitan Area's gross product was $435 billion in 2014, making it the sixth-largest metropolitan economy
in the United States.
Between 2009 and 2016, GDP per capita in Washington has consistently ranked on the very top among U.S. states.
In 2016, at $160,472, its GDP per capita is almost three times as high as that of Massachusetts
, which was ranked second in the nation.
As of 2011, the Washington Metropolitan Area had an unemployment rate of 6.2%; the second-lowest rate among the 49 largest metro areas
in the nation.
The District of Columbia itself had an unemployment rate of 9.8% during the same time period.
In December 2017, 25% of the employees in Washington, D.C., were employed by a federal governmental agency.
This is thought to immunize Washington, D.C., to national economic downturns because the federal government continues operations even during recessions.
Many organizations such as law firms
, defense contractors
, civilian contractors
, nonprofit organizations
, lobbying firms
, trade unions
, industry trade groups
, and professional associations
have their headquarters in or near Washington, D.C., in order to be close to the federal government.
The city of Rosslyn, Virginia
, located across the Potomac River from D.C., serves as a base of operations for several Fortune 500 companies
, due to the building height restrictions in place within the District of Columbia. In 2018, Amazon announced they would build "HQ 2" in the Crystal City neighborhood
of Arlington, Virginia.
The district has growing industries not directly related to government, especially in the areas of education, finance, public policy, and scientific research. Georgetown University
, George Washington University
, Washington Hospital Center
, Children's National Medical Center
and Howard University are the top five non-government-related employers in the city as of 2009
According to statistics compiled in 2011, four of the largest 500 companies
in the country were headquartered in the district.
In the 2017 Global Financial Centres Index
, Washington was ranked as having the 12th most competitive financial center in the world, and fifth most competitive in the United States (after New York City
, San Francisco
, and Boston
The National Gallery of Art
is on the National Mall near the Capitol and features works of American and European art. The gallery and its collections are owned by the U.S. government but are not a part of the Smithsonian Institution.
The National Building Museum
, which occupies the former Pension Building near Judiciary Square
, was chartered by Congress and hosts exhibits on architecture, urban planning, and design.
D.C. teams have won a combined thirteen professional league championships: the Washington Football Team (then named the Washington Redskins) have won five (including three Super Bowls
during the 1980s);
D.C. United has won four;
and the Washington Wizards (then the Washington Bullets), Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and Washington Nationals have each won a single championship.
Washington, D.C., is a prominent center for national and international media. The Washington Post
, founded in 1877, is the oldest and most-read local daily newspaper in Washington.
", as it is popularly called, is well known as the newspaper that exposed the Watergate scandal
It had the sixth-highest readership of all news dailies in the country in 2011.
From 2003 to 2019, The Washington Post Company
published a daily free commuter newspaper called the Express
, which summarized events, sports and entertainment;
it still publishes the Spanish-language paper El Tiempo Latino
Washington has two local NPR affiliates, WAMU
Government and politics
Each of the city's eight wards
elects a single member of the council and residents elect four at-large members to represent the district as a whole. The council chair is also elected at-large.
There are 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions
(ANCs) elected by small neighborhood districts. ANCs can issue recommendations on all issues that affect residents; government agencies take their advice under careful consideration.
The attorney general of the District of Columbia
is elected to a four-year term.
Washington, D.C., is overwhelmingly Democratic
, having voted for the Democratic candidate solidly since it was granted electoral votes in 1964
. Each Republican
candidate was voted down in favor of the Democratic candidate by a margin of at least 56 percentage points each time; the closest, albeit very large, margin between the two parties in a presidential election was in 1972
, when Richard Nixon
secured 21.56% of the vote to George McGovern
's 78.10%. Since then, the Republican candidate has never received more than 20 percent of the vote, and every Democrat since 2008
has received over 90% of the vote.
Additionally, since 2016, the city's residential voting population has become almost unanimously Democratic, more so than it has ever been. Since 2016
, no Democrat has received less than 93% of the major-party vote in the federal district, a level of support that has not been crossed districtwide before that election.
has been legal in the district since 2010, and conversion therapy
has been prohibited since 2015. Assisted suicide
is also permitted in the district, with a bill legalizing the practice being introduced in 2015, signed by mayor Muriel Bowser
in 2016 and going into effect in 2017, making Washington, D.C., the seventh jurisdiction in the United States to have legalized assisted suicide, along with Washington
The idiom Inside the Beltway
is an occasional reference used by media to describe political issues inside of Washington, D.C., by way of geographical demarcation regarding the region inner to the Capital's Beltway, Interstate 495
, the city's highway loop (beltway) constructed in 1964.
The mayor and council set local taxes and a budget, which must be approved by Congress. The Government Accountability Office
and other analysts have estimated that the city's high percentage of tax-exempt property and the Congressional prohibition of commuter taxes create a structural deficit in the district's local budget of anywhere between $470 million and over $1 billion per year. Congress typically provides additional grants for federal programs such as Medicaid
and the operation of the local justice system
; however, analysts claim that the payments do not fully resolve the imbalance.
The district regained control over its finances in 2001 and the oversight board's operations were suspended.
The district has a federally funded "Emergency Planning and Security Fund" to cover security related to visits by foreign leaders and diplomats, presidential inaugurations, protests, and terrorism concerns. During the Trump administration, the fund has run with a deficit. Trump's January 2017 inauguration cost the city $27 million; of that, $7 million was never repaid to the fund. Trump's 2019 Independence Day event, "A Salute to America", cost six times more than Independence Day events in past years.
Voting rights debate
A 2005 poll found that 78% of Americans did not know residents of the District of Columbia have less representation in Congress than residents of the fifty states.
Efforts to raise awareness about the issue have included campaigns by grassroots
organizations and featuring the city's unofficial motto, "Taxation Without Representation
", on D.C. vehicle license plates
There is evidence of nationwide approval for D.C. voting rights; various polls indicate that 61 to 82% of Americans believe D.C. should have voting representation in Congress.
Several approaches to resolving these concerns been suggested over the years:
- District of Columbia Statehood: Almost all the District of Columbia would become the 51st State as Washington, Douglass Commonwealth. The much reduced District of Columbia would run from Capitol Hill west to the Potomac, including the White House and many federal buildings; no one resides permanently in this federal enclave.
- District of Columbia Retrocession to Maryland: As Arlington County in 1846 was retroceded to Virginia, proponents believe the rest of the District of Columbia with the exception of a small strip of land around the Capitol and the White House (the federal enclave) would be given back to Maryland, allowing for DC residents to become Maryland residents as they were prior to the Residence Act of 1790.
- District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment: this option would allow DC residents to vote in Maryland or Virginia for their congressional representatives, with the District of Columbia remaining an independent entity. This was in effect from 1790 to 1801, prior to the Organic Act of 1801.
Opponents of D.C. voting rights propose that the Founding Fathers
never intended for district residents to have a vote in Congress since the Constitution makes clear that representation must come from the states. Those opposed to making D.C. a state claim such a move would destroy the notion of a separate national capital and that statehood would unfairly grant Senate representation to a single city.
Washington, D.C., has fifteen official sister city
agreements. Each of the listed cities is a national capital except for Sunderland, which includes the town of Washington
, the ancestral home of George Washington's family.
Paris and Rome are each formally recognized as a partner city due to their special one sister city policy.
Listed in the order each agreement was first established, they are:
- Bangkok, Thailand (1962, renewed 2002 and 2012)
- Dakar, Senegal (1980, renewed 2006)
- Beijing, China (1984, renewed 2004 and 2012)
- Brussels, Belgium (1985, renewed 2002 and 2011)
- Athens, Greece (2000)
- Paris, France (2000 as a friendship and cooperation agreement, renewed 2005)
- Pretoria, South Africa (2002, renewed 2008 and 2011)
- Seoul, South Korea (2006)
- Accra, Ghana (2006)
- Sunderland, United Kingdom (2006, renewed 2012)
- Rome, Italy (2011, renewed 2013)
- Ankara, Turkey (2011)
- Brasília, Brazil (2013)
- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2013)
- San Salvador, El Salvador (2018)
District of Columbia Public Schools
(DCPS) operates the city's 123 public schools.
The number of students in DCPS steadily decreased for 39 years until 2009. In the 2010–11 school year, 46,191 students were enrolled in the public school system.
DCPS has one of the highest-cost, yet lowest-performing school systems in the country, in terms of both infrastructure and student achievement.
Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration made sweeping changes to the system by closing schools, replacing teachers, firing principals, and using private education firms to aid curriculum development.
Private universities include American University
(AU), the Catholic University of America
(CUA), Gallaudet University
, George Washington University
(GW), Georgetown University
(GU), Howard University
(HU), the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
(SAIS), and Trinity Washington University
. The Corcoran College of Art and Design
, the oldest arts school in the capital, was absorbed into the George Washington University in 2014, now serving as its college of arts.
There are 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of streets, parkways, and avenues
in the district.
Due to the freeway revolts
of the 1960s, much of the proposed interstate highway system
through the middle of Washington was never built. Interstate 95
(I-95), the nation's major east coast highway, therefore bends around the district to form the eastern portion of the Capital Beltway
. A portion of the proposed highway funding was directed to the region's public transportation infrastructure instead.
The interstate highways that continue into Washington, including I-66
, both terminate shortly after entering the city.
I-66 in Washington, D.C.
According to a 2010 study, Washington-area commuters spent 70 hours a year in traffic delays, which tied with Chicago for having the nation's worst road congestion.
However, 37% of Washington-area commuters take public transportation to work, the second-highest rate in the country.
An additional 12% of D.C. commuters walked to work, 6% carpooled, and 3% traveled by bicycle in 2010.
A 2011 study by Walk Score
found that Washington was the seventh-most walkable city in the country with 80% of residents living in neighborhoods that are not car dependent. In 2013, the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan statistical area (MSA) had the eighth lowest percentage of workers who commuted by private automobile (75.7 percent), with 8
percent of area workers traveling via rail transit.
An expected 32% increase in transit usage within the district by 2030 has spurred the construction of a new DC Streetcar
system to interconnect the city's neighborhoods.
An additional Metro line
that will connect Washington to Dulles airport is expected to open by July 2021 at the earliest.
The district is part of the regional Capital Bikeshare
program. Started in 2010, it is one of the largest bicycle sharing systems
in the country with more than 4,351 bicycles and more than 395 stations,
all provided by PBSC Urban Solutions
. By 2012, the city's network of marked bicycle lanes covered 56 miles (90 km) of streets.
is the city's electric utility and services 793,000 customers in the district and suburban Maryland.
An 1889 law prohibits overhead wires within much of the historic City of Washington. As a result, all power lines and telecommunication cables are located underground in downtown Washington, and traffic signals are placed at the edge of the street.
A plan announced in 2013 would bury an additional 60 miles (97 km) of primary power lines throughout the district.
is the city's natural gas
utility and serves more than a million customers in the district and its suburbs. Incorporated by Congress in 1848, the company installed the city's first gas lights in the Capitol, the White House, and along Pennsylvania Avenue.
- ^ By 1790, the Southern states had largely repaid their overseas debts from the Revolutionary War. The Northern states had not, and wanted the federal government to take over their outstanding liabilities. Southern Congressmen agreed to the plan in return for establishing the new national capital at their preferred site on the Potomac River.
- ^ The Residence Act allowed the President to select a location within Maryland as far east as the Anacostia River. However, Washington shifted the federal territory's borders to the southeast in order to include the city of Alexandria at the District's southern tip. In 1791, Congress amended the Residence Act to approve the new site, including territory ceded by Virginia.
- ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
- ^ Official records for Washington, D.C. were kept at 24th and M Streets NW from January 1871 to June 1945, and at Reagan National since July 1945.
- ^ Until 1890, the Census Bureau counted the City of Washington, Georgetown, and unincorporated portions of Washington County as three separate areas. The data provided in this article from before 1890 are calculated as if the District of Columbia were a single municipality as it is today. Population data for each city prior to 1890 are available.
- ^ The territories of the United States have the highest poverty rates in the United States.
- ^ These figures count adherents, meaning all full members, their children, and others who regularly attend services. In all of the District, 55% of the population is adherent to any particular religion.
- ^ Imhoff, Gary (October 1999). "Our Official Songs". DC Watch. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
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