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City Profile: Washington D.C. Important Information About the City of Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C. is one of the most famous and most important cities in the United States, as it is the nation’s capital and the country’s seat of power. What makes this great city unique from other major American cities is that it was specifically founded by the United States constitution to become the capital of the country.

Washington D.C.’s history dated back to 1790 and had since then become the center of political power in the country. As of 2011, the city is home to almost 618,000 residents while up to 5.6 million people live in the metropolitan area. When the Baltimore-Washington metro area is taken into account, the total population swells to a staggering eight million people. This makes the Washington Metropolitan area the seventh largest city in the country, while the Federal District’s population makes it the 24th largest city in the United States.

Washington D.C. sits on an elevation of 18 feet above sea level and encompasses a land area of only 61.4 square miles or 159 square kilometers. This translates to quite a high population density of 9,800 people per square mile. About 6.9 square miles or 18 square kilometers of the city’s area is water. The three major streams found in the District are the Potomac River, Rock Creek and the Anacostia River. It is bordered by the states of Maryland and Virginia. The highest point in the District is at Fort Reno Park, which rises 409 feet or 125 meters above sea level, while the Potomac River is the city’s lowest point.

English is the primary language spoken in Washington, although 15% of the population speaks a language other than English when at home. Spanish is the most commonly spoken foreign language in the city, with about 14% of the city’s residents speaking the language. The other languages spoken in the city are Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, German, Korean, Russian, Japanese, French, as well as African and Scandinavian languages.

Washington D.C. remains a center of American culture, history and political power. The three branches of government are based here, since this is where the White House, the US Congress and US Senate, as well as the US Supreme Court are located.

The world’s movers and shakers are in one of the world’s greatest cities. The World Bank headquarters is here, as well as the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, and the Inter-American Development Bank. The largest museum in the world is also located in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian, which is home to some of the most important historical artifacts in the world. At the same time, the city serves as the home base for many of the world’s most important companies, such as US Airways, Marriott, Mobil Oil, MCI Telecommunications and Amtrak. There are more than a thousand foreign-owned companies in the city, as well as over 180 foreign embassies and international cultural centers. This makes the need for a language translation service provider quite necessary at times when doing business in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is served by three major airports. There is the Ronald Reagan National Airport, the Washington Dulles International Airport and the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The combined volume of passengers handled at these airports is over 64 million people. Amtrak is an important presence in the city, since the company is headquartered here. Union Station is the base of Amtrak and serves more than 3.8 million passengers each year. The city’s metro system is also one of the most extensive in the country, being the second biggest heavy rail system in the United States with more than 217 million trips made annually.

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Offenses against the law are a growing concern in Washington D.C. as it has a higher than average crime index of 556.7 in 2010, compared to the nation’s average of 319.1. The majority of law transgressions reported involved theft, followed by auto theft, burglaries and assault. However, this shouldn’t detract tourists from visiting the city. There are more than 4,477 full time law enforcement employees in the city.

By exercising a few common sense safety procedures, travelers should expect to have a quiet and enjoyable time in the city. Be sure to leave your valuables at home and avoid attracting attention to yourself by wearing flashy and expensive jewelry. Leave your travel documents locked in your hotel safe but carry some photo identification at all times. Never leave your personal belongings unattended. Choose where you park your vehicle and be sure to keep it locked, with your personal belongings kept hidden in the trunk and out of view.

Washington D.C. has a temperate climate, especially during the spring and autumn months. The District has a humid subtropical climate and enjoys four seasons throughout the year. During the summer, the temperatures average in the upper 70 °F, or from 21 °C and above, although the humidity levels are quite high at 66%. The spring and fall season have warm weather, while winters are cool and snow can be expected.

July is the hottest month of the year, with of 89 °F or nearly 32 °C, while the coolest month has traditionally been January, wherein the temperatures peak at 43 °F or about 6 °C and drops down to a low of 24 °F or about -4.4 °C. May is the wettest month of the year, followed by July, with over four inches of rain during the month. The city does experience snowfall during the winter season, which can go for up to 17 inches of snowfall a season, transforming the city into a pristine snow-covered wonderland. Blizzards have been known to happen, although these happen only once every four to six years at a time.

Approximately 37 days of the year have temperatures that reach well above 90 °F or 32 °C. At the same time, approximately 64 evenings in the year usually have freezing temperatures or below that. However, the District enjoys more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, which gives visitors ample time to tour the various sights of the city.

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History of Washington D.C.

The area that is now Washington D.C. was historically occupied by the Native American people of the Nacotchtank tribe. Europeans first arrived in the 17th century and eventually displaced the Native Americans by the 18th century. The location was chosen based on the compromise between Thomas Jefferson and the southern states and Alexander Hamilton representing the northern states.

The creation of the city is unique to other American cities because it was mandated by the American constitution. Washington D.C. is a federal district that was created in 1790. It is located along the Potomac River, to the east of Georgetown settlement from land that was donated by Maryland State and Virginia State, creating an area totaling ten square miles. It was named after the first American president, George Washington who chose the site that was closest to his home when the city was consolidated in 1871, while the federal district was called Columbia. Two counties were established as well: the county of Washington and the county of Alexandria. By 1800, the country’s congress was able to have its first session in the city.

However, by 1846, the land donated by Virginia was returned to the state, so that the county of Alexandria once again became under the state of Virginia, which is why Washington D.C. today has less than 70 square miles to its name. The reason for the retrocession of Alexandria County is because of concerns of the abolition of the American slave trade, which the county was a major participant of. This would have severely depressed the economy of Alexandria County and its participants sought to protect their thriving trade. However, the passage of the Compromise of 1850 ended the slave trade, although the emancipation of the slaves did not happen till more than a decade later.

War and other important national events spurred the development of Washington D.C. The 1861 American Civil War led to the increase in the population of the District because many of the freed slaves sought refuge here by 1862. At the same time, Georgetown and the rural areas nearby were absorbed as part of the city, thereby expanding its boundaries. Many large scale projects to develop the city and new neighborhoods began to emerge. By 1888, the city had its first motorized streetcar. With the formal annexation of Georgetown in 1895 and the development of many urban neighborhoods, the city came to be known as Washington D.C.

The city was designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant to be an impressive capital, similar to France, with wide streets and avenues, many open spaces and beautiful landscaping. His design included a grand avenue about a mile long and 400 feet wide, lined with trees and gardens. This is the area that is now the National Mall. However, the city did not truly achieve monumental heights in architecture until a century later. Back then, the country’s leaders were busy dealing with various national concerns, so that the development of the city fell on the wayside. This resulted in many slums and randomly placed buildings to mar the cityscape. Thanks to the McMillan Commission, which was responsible for developing the National Mall and the many beautiful monuments that visitors see today, Washington D.C. has become a remarkable and well-designed city with many large open spaces and important cultural and historical sights.

In 1894, the first height restrictions for building construction were placed in the city. In 1910, buildings had to be no taller than the width of the street adjacent to it, with an additional 20 feet or 6.1 meters to the total height of the structure. The tallest structure in Washington D.C. is the Washington Monument, which soars to a height of 555 feet or 169 meters. This has resulted in the low and sprawling skyline of the city.

During World War II, the city’s population once again increased because of the need for more deferral employees, due to the rise in activity of the government. By the mid- 20th century, there were more than 800,000 residents in the city. Washington D.C.’s diversity grew in the 20th century, with the influx of immigrants from El Salvador. The political turmoil in Africa also resulted in the mass migration of Ethiopians to the District. This has made the culture in Washington D.C. truly unique and highly diversified, thanks to the various influences of the different cultures in the city.

It was only in 1973 when the District was allowed to have an elected mayor and city council, all because of the DC Home Rule Act. The first mayoral elections were held in 1975, which placed Walter Washington as the first elected mayor of the city. At the same time, he was also the first black mayor of Washington D.C.

The presence of many African-American residents in the city has resulted in many civil rights being championed by the city’s residents. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, massive riots broke out in the city’s black residential and commercial areas. The damage caused by the riots were so severe, it took more than two decades to rebuild what had been destroyed.

Washington D.C. remains as one of the most important cities in the world. It continues to be a center of power and political influence and is an integral part of the nation’s history, economy and culture.

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Demographics of Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is home to more than 601,700 residents. Since 2000, the city’s population has grown by only 5.2%, with the city experiencing a negative growth rate in the later half of the 20th century. There are more females than males in Washington, with 53% females compared to 47% males. Unlike other major cities, the majority of the city’s residents have never been married, with less than 30% of the residents now married. This is probably because of the many college students in Georgetown University, George Washington University and Howard University, as well as the many young professionals starting out their careers in government. The average median age in the city is 33.8 years old. The average household size is smaller than other major cities, at 2.11 individuals per household.

The city’s racial profile is quite diverse. A large majority is of African-American descent, with over 51% of the population being black, which is significantly higher than the U.S. average of 13% of the population. Whites make up only 35% of the total population of the city, and come from ancestries such as Irish, German, Sub-Saharan African, English, Italian and American descent.

There is also a growing Hispanic presence in the city, with nine percent of the city’s residents coming from a Latino background. Asians comprise 3.5% of the city’s residents, while more than two percent of the people come from two or more races. More than 13% of the city’s residents are born on foreign soil, hailing from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa. At the same time, 15% of the population speaks another language as their primary language, primarily Spanish. Given this cultural diversity, travelers and those who wish to do business in Washington D.C. may benefit from utilizing the services of a Spanish translation service provider, to translate documents and other papers of importance.

Washington D.C. has some of the most educated people in the country. Forty-nine percent of the city’s residents have a Bachelor’s or a higher degree, which is significantly higher than the U.S. average of only 28%. Twenty-two percent of the city’s residents also hold a graduate or a professional degree. This translates to a higher than average median household income of $59,290 per year as of 2009, while the estimated per capita income is a robust $40,797 annually. However, financial discrepancy still remains between the rich and poor. In 2009, more than 18% of the city’s residents were considered living in poverty.

The wide diversity in the city has affected the literacy rates in the city. In 2007, it was found that only a third of the city’s residents are considered functionally literate. The reason for this is because of the large number of immigrants in the city who do not speak English as their first language and may have difficulty with the language. These immigrants come from Hispanic countries, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

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Economy of Washington D.C.

The city of Washington D.C. has a cost of living index that is higher than the country’s average. As of March 2012, the cost of living index is 124.4, compared to the nation’s average of 100. This translates to higher rental and home prices. Less than 10% of the city’s population is unemployed.

Washington D.C. is not only responsible for the nation’s overall economic health, but it also attends to its own economic well being. The District’s economy is placed as the 35th largest in the country. In 2008, the Washington D.C. economy generated $97 billion, which translates to a growth rate of 5.1%. The biggest employer in the city of Washington D.C. is the government of the District of Columbia, with more than 36,000 listed employees as of 2009. The Federal government employs 2.2% of the total work population in the country, although 13% of this is based in Washington.

A positive factor in the city’s economic profile is the young and highly educated population of the city. Most highly skilled employees are buffered from losing their jobs, so it is the low skilled jobs that are most vulnerable. At the same time, the Federal government is the largest provider of jobs in the city, which makes the jobs secure even in times of recession. This accounts for the growth of the city despite the overall recession in other parts of the country.

Defense contractors are another major employer in the city, such as Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman. The health care industry also employs many of the city’s workforce, with companies such as Inova Health Systems and MedStar Health having a presence in the city.

With much of the city focused on politics, one of the biggest income generators for the city is the tourism industry. The city welcomes more than 17 million tourists annually, which contributes more than $5.7 billion in city revenues. More than 1.7 million tourists from outside the U.S. also make their way to the nation’s capital to explore the various sights. Most international tourists have passports from the European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands and Italy; the rest come from Asian countries like China, Japan and South Korea, as well as those travelers from Australia and Brazil.

Another important industry in the city is the trade associations industry. With more than 400 international associations, Washington D.C. has the most number of associations than any other city in the country.

Other industries in Washington D.C. that have made their mark are higher education, medicine and medical research, government research and publishing.

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Washington D.C. Attractions

Travelers have a wide range of options on what to see and do while in Washington D.C. There are more than 50 tour operators that provide various tours to the top tourist destinations in the city. Many of the city’s monuments and museums are free to the public so both residents and visitors could take advantage of enjoying the city’s attractions without spending a lot of money.

At the top of the list for many travel itineraries to Washington D.C. is the Smithsonian Institution. This is the largest museum complex, with 19 specialty museums such as a postal museum and a museum on space exploration, nine research centers, the National Zoological Park and over 137 million pieces as part of its massive collection. It has been open since 1846 and was intended to help increase and diffuse knowledge to the nation’s citizens. It institution was the result of a bequest from James Smithson, a British scientist who died in 1829.

More than seven million visitors make their way to The National Museum of Natural History, making it one of the, if not the most visited, of the Smithsonian museums. There are more than 126 million specimens of flora, fauna, minerals rocks, meteorites, fossils and various human artifacts housed in the museum. Some of the most famous pieces in the museum are 46 complete specimens of dinosaurs such as a T-rex and Triceratops; the Hope Diamond, which is the largest diamond in the world, as well as the Star of Asia Sapphire; the largest collection of vertebrate specimens in the planet; and a 45-foot replica of the North Atlantic Right Whale. The admission is free and the museum is open every day of the year.

The National Air and Space Museum is the second most visited site in the city, with more than 6.6 million visitors each year. This has the most number of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. Spread over 161,000 square feet of space, there are 61 aircraft, 51 large space artifacts and more than 2,000 other items of interest. Some of the most interesting items on display are the Mercury Friendship 7 spacecraft, the Apollo 11 Command Module, the Apollo Lunar Module, The Spirit of St. Louis, a camera that was used on the Hubble Space Telescope, a 25-foot model of the Hindenburg, and even the production model of the USS Enterprise of the TV show Star Trek.

The National Museum of American History is another Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall. Visitors would find the John Bull locomotive, a replica of Julia Child’s kitchen, the original Star-Spangled Banner, as well as the chair used by Archie Bunker among many other items from America’s sports, pop culture, musical, political history. Established in 1964, the museum is a reflection of the American way of life and is visited by 4.6 million people annually.

The National Gallery of Art is considered one of the greatest art museums in the world. Opened in 1937, the National Gallery features collections from the Middle Ages to modern times. The only painting of Leonardo da Vinci in the country is here, the Ginevra de Benci, as well as the largest mobile created by Alexander Calder. Some other masterpieces include Raphael’s Alba Madonna, Venus with a Mirror by Titian, Adoration of the Shepherds by Giorgione (Zorzo da Castelfranco), Claude Monet’s The Artist’s Garden at Vetheuil, and the Self Portrait (1889) by Vincent van Gogh, one of the last self-portraits that he painted and an oil-on-wood Self-Portrait by Paul Gauguin, also painted in 1889.

The National Portrait Gallery is housed in one of the oldest buildings in the city, the Old Patent Office Building. It is also part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Hall of Presidents is one of its famous would find portraits of various individuals, from the Landsdowne portrait of George Washington painted by Gilbert Stuart to Marilyn Monroe.

The Library of Congress houses almost every book ever published and is the largest library anywhere in the world. This is considered the national library of the country and is used as a research library by the members of the U.S. Congress. There are more than 532 miles of shelves containing more than 115 million items. There are more than 32 million catalogued books and print materials in 470 languages. Some of its most important pieces are a draft of the Declaration of Independence and one of the only four Gutenberg Bibles in existence. It is open to the public, but only library employees as well as members of Congress, the Supreme Court justices and other important government officials may borrow books.

The nation’s capital is inevitably home to a number of important war memorials to honor those in service. There is the World War II Memorial, which receives more than 5.4 million visitors each year, and was opened in 2004. This consists of 56 pillars and a set of arches that surrounds a beautiful plaza and fountain. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial consists of The Three Soldiers Statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall. The wall, which lists more than 58,000 names, is the most famous of the memorials and receives more than 3.8 million visitors annually. The Korean Memorial is found on the West Potomac Park and is in honor of those who fought in the Korean War. The Pool of Remembrance is found in the circle that intersects the three triangles that form the Korean Memorial. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum pays tribute to those who died in World War II and is a reminder of the horrors of war. The museum memorial has close to 13,000 artifacts and is often visited by people from all walks of life, including foreign officials from 132 countries.

There are also a number of memorials in the city that are dedicated to various American presidents. The most famous of these presidential monuments is the Washington Monument. This is an obelisk that stands over 555 feet high and is known to be the tallest stone structure and tallest obelisk in the world. No building in the District is taller than the Washington Monument. The FDR Memorial is dedicated to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as the period that he represented. The bronze sculpture of a seated president with his dog and the other sculptures at the 3-hectare monument are viewed by 2.3 million visitors each year. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is another important presidential memorial that houses a bronze statue of Jefferson in a neo-classically designed building. The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most famous memorials, with more than four million visitors. The memorial features a sculpture of a seated Abraham Lincoln and is inscribed with the Gettysburg Address, as well as his Second Inaugural Address. It is here that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The city has a number of parks, especially since about a quarter of the District’s area is dedicated to national parks. The oldest zoo in the world is the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, which is also known as the National Zoo. It receives more than three million visitors each year and has free admission. It is home to more than 2,000 animals covering 400 different animal species, about 20% of which are listed as endangered. At Rock Creek Park, visitors are able to see giant pandas, birds, apes, big cats, Asian elephants, and various insects, amphibians and reptiles.

The most famous home in Washington D.C. is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW and is known all around the world as the White House. This is used as the official residence and office of the sitting president of the United States. The complex includes the Executive Residence, the West Wing, Cabinet Room East Wing, Roosevelt Room and the Eisenhower Executive Office. John Adams was the first president to use it as a home, making it over 200 years old. About 5,000 visitors come to the White House each day, although some tours may be limited during times of national crisis.

No trip to Washington D.C. is complete without a visit to Capitol Hill. This is where the United States Congress and U.S. Senate shape the country’s future and affect the lives of citizens around the world. It is also one of the oldest residential communities in the city and is also one of the busiest and most densely populated. The U.S. Capitol Building, with its domed center, is one of the most recognized buildings in the world. At the very top of the dome is the Statue of Freedom, which weighs about 15,000 pounds, with a height of 19 feet and 6 inches.

The National Mall has several other features that would delight every visitor. The Smithsonian Institution alone maintains several beautiful gardens near the museums that the institution administers. Some of these include the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, the Butterfly Habitat Garden, Enid A. Haupt Garden, Victory Garden, Heirloom Garden and Katherine Dulin Folger Rose Garden. The Smithsonian Institution complex also includes the National Museum of American Indian, National Museum of African Art, “The Castle,” the iconic building of the Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Henry Statue and the Smithsonian Carousel, among other features.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an art museum, wherein the building itself is a fine example of abstract art. Part of the collection showcased in the museum are works created by artists after the Second World War, including Jackson Pollock, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Auguste Rodin and Henri Matisse. In the gardens you would find beautiful and evocative sculptures like The Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin, Cubi XII by David Smith, the stainless steel sculpture called Kiepenkerl by Jeff Koons and Washington D.C. Wish Tree by Yoko Ono.

Travelers who wish to sit back and relax can do so at the wide, concrete steps leading to the memorial sites. After a day of touring the various attractions at the National Mall, many people simply take pictures or watch the scenery here. It’s a great place to get a feel of the people of the District, and is a wonderful place to reflect on the beauty of the nation’s capital.

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Washington D.C. Culture

There is so much to see and do in the nation’s capital. The various sights around the city and the surrounding neighborhoods are also a reflection of the city’s culture; at the same time these are greatly intertwined with the country’ history.

The architecture in Washington D.C. is one of its top attractions. Of the 2007 top ten buildings listed as America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects, six can be found in the District. These are the White House, The Washington National Cathedral, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the U.S. Capitol building, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Various architectural styles have been used in the city, especially neoclassical, gothic, Georgian, modern, Victorian and even French styles. Some of the oldest building and designs can be found in Georgetown. The oldest standing building in the city that is in its original condition is the Old Stone House, which was built in 1765. The largest building is the Ronald Reagan Building, measuring 3.1 million square feet or 288,000 square meters.

Visitors would find that there are over 40 performing arts venues spread all over the city, with a combined seating capacity for 31,000 people. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is one of the most famous. From April to May, the city hosts the Washington D.C. International Film Festival. Even Shakespeare is celebrated on his birthday at the Folger Shakespeare Library, with face painting and other family-oriented activities.

Some of the country’s best restaurants can be found in Washington, District of Columbia. There are more than a hundred restaurants in the downtown area alone offering cuisine from all over the world, aside from the number of delis, fast food joints and take out restaurants in the area. Many of the restaurants are top Zagat-rated restaurants, with some receiving AAA Five Diamond ratings and headed by chefs who have won the prestigious James Beard award for cooking, offering visitors a number of delicious dining options.

The city has four sporting event venues that could accommodate a total of 167,000 spectators. These are the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium; the Verizon Venter; Bender Arena and the Charles E. Smith Athletic Center. The city is proud of its eight major professional teams, which include the Washington Redskins, Wizards, Nationals, and Mystics.

Although the city is the seat of the nation’s power, Washington D.C. gives importance to balancing the scenery. Almost two thirds of the land of the city is under the control of the National Park Service, and there are more than 250,000 acres in Washington D.C. dedicated to parkland. Hillwood Museum and Gardens is the 25-acre estate of the heir of the breakfast item, Post Cereal. The home shows an array of French and Russian art while the well-kept garden is an ideal place to find a serene oasis in the city.

To learn more about the city’s African-American culture and traditions, travelers should visit the Anacostia Community Museum at the Capitol or the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Cedar Hill. The Anacostia Museum contains 6,000 early American pieces that explores this District’s Black heritage. Frederick Douglass was the first Black to be able to purchase a home in the exclusive Anacostia neighborhood, and a visit to this Victorian mansion is included in the tour. Another notable site that celebrates the city’s Black heritage is the African-American Civil War Memorial. Visitors could take tours that track the African-American trail to see more than 200 historical sites and landmarks of the city that celebrates the city’s Black population.

The music scene in Washington D.C. has always been vibrant. This is the birthplace of Duke Ellington, and his influence can be seen in U Street Corridor, which has been called Black Broadway. Jazz giants Pearl Bailey, Jelly Roll Morton and Cab Calloway once played here. The Smithsonian puts the spotlight on folk singers and performers with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival around the 4th of July. The DC Jazz Festival held every June is one of the biggest jazz festivals in the county. Throughout the year, there are a number of concerts and musical events in the city.

All eyes are on Washington D.C. as it celebrates many important events throughout the year. Inauguration day is an important event that is held on January 20th, every four years after the Presidential election. In April, the largest Earth Day celebration in the country is held at the National Mall. Every spring, Washington celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival, which coincides with the cherry blossom festival in Japan. It is the country’s largest springtime celebration. In July, one of the biggest celebrations is Independence Day, marked by various parades and a spectacular fireworks display. The White House also celebrates Easter with an annual Easter egg hunt, while the Christmas season is ushered in with the annual lighting of the tree.

In May, an international flower festival is held, called the National Cathedral Flower Mart. In the summer month of July, the foreign embassies in the District open their doors for the European Union Day, which is a weeklong multi-cultural celebration involving the various diplomats in Washington.

Given the city’s diversity, there are also a number of cultural events in Washington D.C. The birth and assassination of Martin Luther King are celebrated in January and April respectively. African Americans celebrate Black history month in February. The Italian community celebrates with The Italians in DC Festival held in May, as well as the annual Italian Street Festival in October. The Jewish community celebrates their heritage, with a Jewish American Heritage month in May, marked by a music festival and other events. The DC Caribbean Carnival is another exciting celebration of diversity in the city held in June. It celebrates Caribbean culture with music, food and a fun street parade.

Because the city was designed by a Frenchman, Pierre L’Enfant, it’s no wonder that the District celebrates Bastille Day as well. At Hillwood Estates, 18th century France is brought to life with an annual French Festival in July. Another interesting take on the celebration is watching the waiters of Brasserie Les Halles race on Pennsylvania Ave, while holding trays in their hand.

The Greeks come out for the Greek Festival in September. The Latinos also celebrate Latin-American culture in Fiesta DC every September in the Columbia Heights area. At Hillwood Estate, the Russian Winter Festival is celebrated, complete with the appearance of Grandfather Frost, the Snow Maiden, folk tales, arts and crafts and other activities. Asians celebrate with a Dragon Boat Festival on the Potomac every May, and a Water Lily Festival in July.

With all the cultural events throughout the year, visitors have a number of activities to choose from.

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Interesting Facts about Washington D.C.

  • The official flower of Washington D.C. is the American Beauty Rose, while the Scarlet Oak is the city’s tree. The city’s motto is Justitia Omnibus, which translates to “Justice for All.”
  • Washington D.C. is known by many names. Many refer to it simply as DC or Washington, but it has also been called The Capital of the World, The District, Chocolate City and City of Magnificent Distances.
  • Although the seat of the country’s power is in Washington D.C., the residents themselves do not have a Congressional representative. It was only thanks to a 1962 constitutional amendment that the city’s residents were granted rights to vote for the President and the Vice-President of the country. It was only in 1964 when the District’s residents were first able to participate in the national elections.
  • A home in the city has gone up significantly in the last decade. From a year 2000 value of $153,500, by 2009, the estimated median home value in the city was placed at $443,700. A renter has an average cost of $1,059 a month.
  • Washington D.C. is ready to accommodate the tourists who wish to visit the nation’s capital. There are 122 properties in the cities and more than 29,000 rooms suitable for various budgets. At the same time, there are an additional 655 properties and more than 106,000 rooms located in the Greater Washington Metropolitan Region. The busiest travel time for the city is from March to June and the months of September and October.
  • In 2007 study by Brookings Institute, the city topped the list as the most walkable city in the country.
  • Washington D.C. is trying to be a green city! Although the city’s air has significantly worse levels of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide compared to the US average, the city has taken strides to address the issue. As early as 2006, the city council made Washington D.C. the first major city in America to require developers to conform to the U.S. Green Building council’s guidelines. The city also proudly owns the first green-certified ballpark in the country, the Washington Nationals Ballpark. Many hotels in the area also use alternative and renewable energy sources and have environmental initiatives such as recycling programs and adopt a park programs.
  • One of the most anticipated springtime events is the National Cherry Blossom Festival and Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival. The festival is a celebration of the Japanese government’s gift of cherry trees back in 1912. This is held sometime between March and April, when the cherry blossoms are at their best, converting the area by the Potomac River into one of the most beautiful places in the city. In 2012, the festival marked its centennial. The celebration includes serving Japanese food, crafts involving origami making, as well as picnics, concerts, performances and a number of activities celebrating the Japanese culture and the country’s friendship with the Asian nation.
  • The media outlets reflect the cultural diversity found in the city. The only Spanish-language stations that broadcast at full power all over the Washington metro area are Univision and Telefutura, which are owned by Entravision.
  • Among cities with more than 50,000 people, Washington D.C. is the city with the highest percentage of men and women working in industries relating to religious, grant-making, civic and professional activities and similar organizations. It is the city with the highest percentage of women working as architects, surveyors and cartographers. Washington D.C. has the highest percentage of men working in food preparation and serving-related occupations, as well as men working as drafters and as engineering and mapping technicians.
  • The previous names of the White House were “President’s House” and “President’s Palace.” The term White House was used by a newspaper reporter from Baltimore and somehow that moniker stuck. It became the official name in 1901 after President Theodore Roosevelt’s decree.
  • The 23rd president of the United States, Benjamin Harrison and his family decorated the first official Christmas Tree in the White House.
  • President Ulysses S. Grant was the originator of the word “lobbyist” when several interest groups continually bothered him while he was relaxing at the lobby of the Willard Hotel.
  • President Woodrow Wilson was the only American president who lived in The District after his terms in office ended. Near the Dupont Circle is his former home, which has been converted into the Woodrow Wilson House Museum.
  • There are many law enforcement personnel in Washington D.C. to ensure the safety of its residents and the many visitors to the city. There are 6.56 officers per 1,000 residents in the city, or about 3,945 policemen. This makes Washington D.C. the city with the most number of police officers in the top 101 largest cities in the country. However, Washington D.C. ranked as the fourth city in the country with the most number of robberies in 2006 for every 10,000 residents.
  • There is a 64% greater chance of a tornado hitting the Washington area than other cities in America. The last major tornado that hit the region was in 2002, when a category F4 tornado made landfall 26.7 miles away from the city center, and caused the deaths of three people, injuring 122 others and resulted in the damage of more than $124 million in property. Fortunately, the chances of an earthquake are significantly lower in the District compared to the U.S. average. There is an 89% lesser chance of an earthquake hitting Washington D.C. than other major cities in the country. Winter storms and snowstorms are the most common causes of natural disasters in the city.
  • Washington D.C. is the birthplace of many notable people. These include former Vice-President Al Gore and TV journalist Brit Hume, athletes Pete Sampras, John Owens and Jerome Williams and FBI’s first director, J. Edgar Hoover. Musicians John Phillips Sousa, Chuck Brown, Roberta Flack and Duke Ellington were born here. Some of the most influential people in the world live in Washington D.C. The President of the United States is the most famous resident of the city. However, other notable people who have called Washington their home at one time or another are singers Oleta Adams and Bing Crosby; Starbucks founders Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker; TV host Bob Barker; musicians Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix; actress Carol Channing and actor James Caviezel; Pulitzer Prize winner Audrey Wurdemann; and cartoonist Gary Larson.
  • The nation’s capital is sister cities with 12 other important cities in the world. It is a partner city with Paris and Rome and sister cities with the capital cities of Bangkok in Thailand; Dakar in Senegal; Beijing, China; Brussels, Belgium; Athens, Greece; Pretoria, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea; Accra, Ghana; and Ankara, Turkey. The city of Sunderland in the United Kingdom is the only sister city of Washington D.C. that is not a capital city.

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