Washington DC: What is the meaning of DC?
After the word Washington, the acronym DC denotes the district to which the city belongs, also known as the District of Columbia. As a result, it serves to identify the district of Washington from the city itself. Furthermore, it distinguishes the federal capital, its district, and the state of Washington, which shares a border with British Columbia, Canada.
The states of Maryland and Virginia each ceded territory to construct the Federal District of Columbia, which was formalised on July 16, 1790, with the signing of the Residence Act. It too has a land area of less than 200 km2, borders the Potomac River, and is organised into four quadrants, with the Campidoglio in the centre:
- Capitol Avenue North;
- Capitol Avenue East;
- South Capitol Avenue;
History of Washington DC
The city was created in 1791 and was named after America’s first president, George Washington. The ultimate purpose was to serve as the capital of the newly independent country, which had declared independence 15 years before.
The United States Constitution permitted the establishment of a city that would serve as the permanent residence of the country’s government and would be independent of any state.
George Washington chose a location on the Potomac River on the country’s east coast as the site for the new capital as a result of a compromise between northern and southern officials.
Washington map and city planning
Washington commissioned French engineer Peter Charles L’Enfant to develop and outline the modern capital.
The engineer’s design, heavily influenced by his birthplace Paris, was a grid of overlapping streets with large diagonal avenues emanating from ceremonial plazas.
The United States Capitol building, which L’Enfant defined as a “pedestal awaiting a monument,” was central to the idea.
A mile long and 120 metres broad, in front of the new seat of the country’s central government, sprawled a “great avenue” bordered with several gardens, which would eventually become known as the National Mall.
An equestrian statue of George Washington was intended at the end of this avenue, right across from the Capitol, with the President’s Mansion – The White House – straight north of this monument. To complete the triangle, a diagonal boulevard connected the palace with the Capitol.
However, after a series of disputes, L’Enfant was sacked from the project, as was Andrew Ellicott, who had worked tirelessly to oversee the city and had been entrusted with completing the project.
However, it is reasonable to say that L’Enfant’s plan laid the groundwork for a modern metropolis that grew to become the administrative and symbolic capital of the United States. It is also densely packed with monuments, which we shall discuss later.