Washington DC CollageAmerica was still brand new and operating out of its temporary capital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania while the new Federal Capital was being built, and on June 10, 1793, it officially superseded Philly as our nations’s capital on


The States of Maryland and Virginia had donated the land straddling the Potomac River in 1789, to be an autonomous capital of the Union, beholden to no individual state, master of all.

It was one of the first planned cities, laid out by French architect and city planner Pierre L’Enfant, who President Washington fired, hiring his colleague Andrew Ellicot, who simply revised L’Enfant’s plans and gave us the familiar broad streets and avenues radiating from four rectangles.

Today the architecture of Washington is familiar the world over, from the Capitol Dome to the White House and the various government agency buildings, to the marble memorials to our Founders as well as the President who preserved our union in the crucible of Civil War, Abraham Lincoln.

The Great National Mall has been the site of a dozen history-changing gatherings, while Washington D.C. itself is now the premier international World Capital, power personified. Not bad for its humble beginnings as the capital of an upstart experiment in Democracy no one thought would last.

•Suggested Activities: Visiting America’s Attic, The Smithsonian Institute.

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