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    District of Columbia (DC) - Real Estate Resources

    District of Columbia Board of Real Estate
    941 North Capitol Street, NE
    Washington, DC 20002
    (202) 442-4400

    Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS®
    8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 600
    Silver Spring, MD 20910-3737
    (301) 590-2000 - Fax (301) 590-2248






    Washington D.C.

    The American Revolutionary War ended in 1783.  At that time, the federal government was meeting in both Philadelphia and New York.  Several of the states vied to become the new capital.  This debate led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 which gave power to Congress to locate a federal district which would not be a part of any state but would be governed by Congress.

    Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton decided that a southern site would be the best place for such a capital.  Soon after, the District of Columbia on the Potomac River was chosen by then President Washington. He selected a point that was as far upstream as ocean going ships could go.  This took in the cities of Georgetown in Maryland and Alexandria in Virginia.  Land for the district was given to the federal government by the states of Virginia and Maryland.

    1791-92 Andrew Ellicott and the free African-American Benjamin Benneker surveyed the border of the District along Virginia and Maryland, placing boundary stones at every mile point; many of these still stand.

    The cornerstone of the White House which was the first of the new buildings to be built, was laid on October 13, 1792.  Washington appointed Pierre Charles L’Enfant to develop the new city.  He designed the layout on a grid system that would be centered on the United States Capitol.  It was crossed by avenues named after the states of the union. These were to be intersected with streets which were made into circles which would be named after famous Americans.

    On February 27, 1801 the government was moved to the new city, and was formally placed under the rule of Congress.

    During the War of 1812, James Madison was the President.  He and all the government officials had to leave the capital.  On August 24, 1814, the British entered the district and burned the capital.  This included the most important public buildings such as the Presidents house and the Capitol building as well as many other buildings and the bridge across the Potomac.

    In 1888, the Washington Monument was finished after forty years of sitting idle.  The reason there is a change in color part way up the monument is that the same color could not be found again.  Plans were put into action to add parks and other monuments and to otherwise beautify the city.  Two of the major contributors were Fredrick Law Olmsted who is world famous for his designs of some of our most beautiful parks including Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, Central Park in New York and the grounds at Stanford University in California and Daniel Burnham who helped shape cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and Manila in the Philipeans.  However, development of the Lincoln Memorial and other structures on the National Mall did not get underway until the early 20th century.
    One of the most important Washington architects of this period was the German immigrant Adolf Cluss.  From the 1860s to the 1890s, he constructed over 80 public and private buildings throughout the city, including the National Museum, the Agriculture Department, Sumner and Franklin schools.

    In 1973 Congress gave some of its power in the District of Columbia to allow the district to elect a city council and mayor.  Walter Washington was the first elected mayor as well as the first black mayor of a major American city.

    The first 4.6 miles (7.4 kilometers) of the Washington Metro subway system opened on March 27, 1976.  Today it is a sophisticated system used by thousands of commuters and tourists every day.

    There are many ways to see Washington DC and surrounding areas.  One is to put on your walking shoes and head out.  Another is to take a short tour that shows you where many of the sights are located and then you can go for yourself.  There are also the trams that stop at all the sights so that you can get off and back on when the next one comes by.  The list of things to see is too extensive to include here.  The best advice is either go to the library and look for places of interest to you.  However you choose to go in your visit, you likely will have wonderful memories and a desire to return again.

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