From the beginning of time, the greatest, most famous cities of the world have had monuments and landmarks, which give their watchers and observers a walk through history. These constructions serve as a source of attraction from people from all over the world.
The fact that the city in context is the capital of the world’s biggest superpower, prepares us to see some really astonishing sights. Washington, D.C, home to over 0.6 million people, is a city with some breathtaking sites and monuments which illustrates its beauty and importance to not just the U.S, but to the entire world.
From history to politics, from art to sports, this city has it all. In this article, we put light on some of its most popular landmarks.
1. Congressional Cemetery
A historic cemetery, which dates back more than 200 years, Congressional Cemetery is an active cemetery on the west bank of Anacostia River. It host about 65,000 bodies, including bodies of those who help built Washington and the U.S, what it is today. The importance this cemetery holds is due to its dead population, many of which were former members of the Congress, Civil War veterans, Native American diplomats, and mayors of the city. Probably the most notable person buried is former director of FBI, John Edgar Hoover. Congressional Cemetery was enlisted on the National Register of Historic Places in1969 and labeled a National Historic Landmark in 2011.
2. District of Columbia City Hall
Also known as Old City Hall, this structure is a historic building and is one of the most important ones, among those associated with judiciary. Previously, it has served as a courthouse, during which it held trails of notable criminals, including three accused of presidential assassinations. In addition, it also was the location of the trial of ‘Pearl incident’ case, where the accused allegedly tried to help 70 slaves escape. This location was also the first place to have a statue of Abraham Lincoln erected. The building was acknowledged as a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Today, it serves as the courthouse for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
3. Treasury Building
This structure is one of the most recognized places in all of U.S. As its name suggest, it is the home and headquarters of the United States Department of the Treasury. It is a very important building in the history of the nation, dating back about 150 years. Its southern and northern entrances hold statues of its former secretaries, Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin, respectively. It is featured on the back of the United States ten-dollar bill, one of the reasons for its wide recognition.
United States Supreme Court Building
Serving as the seat of U.S Supreme Court, this structure dates about 80 years back and is the most important judiciary building in all of U.S. It is located just next to the Capitol and is under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol. Over its western faÃƒ§ade, it says ‘Equal Justice Under Law,’ while on its eastern faÃƒ§ade, it says ‘Justice the Guardian of Liberty.’ From dining rooms to library, from gym to basketball court, this structure has it all, and knowing its importance, it is of little surprise. In 1987, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
4. The Washington Monument
This structure is a tower on the National Mall. It commemorates the symbol of independence, the first president of the U.S and the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, George Washington. It is purely made of stone and is the tallest stone-made structure in the world. Others may be taller, but none of them is solely made of stone. It was officially opened in1888. Although, it is very strong and stands an enormous 555 feet tall, it has been affected by hurricanes and earthquakes in the past, most notably the recent Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene. It stands east of another very important landmark, Lincoln Memorial.
5. Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is not just any research library but one of the two largest libraries in the world, with the other one being The British Library. It is based on four buildings in Washington, D.C, while having another campus in Virginia. Although it dates back 200 years, it was not in its current shape back then. At that time, it resided in The Capitol. However, after numerous collections were ruined during the 1812 war, Thomas Jefferson gave the remaining books to the library. After the Civil War, the library started to expand in terms of both, size and importance. During the 20th century, this library became an integral part of the government. Today, it has become one of the largest libraries in the world, in terms of shelf space and no. of books. Its main purpose is to entertain any inquiries made by members of Congress via Congressional Research Service. Although, it is open to public as well, people who are not members of Congress, employees, Supreme Court justices, or other highly ranked government officials, have limited privileges.
6. Jefferson Memorial
It is a structure, which commemorates one of the Founding Fathers of the U.S and its third president, Thomas Jefferson. The importance of this structure stems from the importance of the man it is dedicated to. It was this man who whispered the American Revolution, the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence, and the man who was a leader in The Enlightenment. It is was designed by John Russell Pope and was completed in 1943, on the former president’s 200th birthday. The man who did the honors was a legendary president himself, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 4 years later, a bronze statue of the Thomas Jefferson was erected. The structure defines Jefferson’s own taste in architecture, being inspired by the Pantheon of Rome. Due to its location and shape, it attracted controversy in the beginning. However, after the dust settled, Jefferson Memorial turned out to be an amazing piece of human capability. Today, its interior, its pediments, its design, everything about the structure feels like Thomas Jefferson. It is the perfect memorial, for a true hero.
7. Lincoln Memorial
President Abraham Lincoln was not just an extraordinary president, but an extraordinary man. Poles after poles witness to his impact on hearts of the American people, as he claims to not just being one of the most popular presidents of the nation, but THE most popular and loved one. Similarly, his memorial is also extraordinary. Built in a Greek style, it is located on the National Mall. The design includes 36 Doric columns outside, signifying the no. of states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death. It has a unique beauty, a unique aura that originates from Lincoln himself. What adds to it is the gigantic sculpture of Lincoln himself, sitting on a chair. It also possess an inscription of two of his most popular speeches, The Gettysburg Address and The Second Inaugural Address. It has been the location of several speeches of other notable figures, including one of most famous speeches in U.S history, by one of the most influential figures in U.S history. Yes, the ‘I have a dream’ speech by Martin Luther King Jr. Being at Lincoln Memorial is a special feeling, and not just because of how secularly it reflects Lincoln, but also how standing there, we can see The Arlington Cemetery, The Washington Monument and The Capitol Hill.
8. The Capitol
This structure is the home of American politics, it is the meeting place of the Congress. It sits on the top of the Capitol Hill, as the gem of American Politics, as the place where the brightest politicians come together and formulate policy. Like most of the important federal structures, it is made in Neo-classical style. It holds every presidential inauguration and celebration for the U.S Independence Day. The importance of the structure needs few details after the fact about its purpose is stated. The Capitol Building is also an art lover’s haven, having walls laden with works of famous artists, such as Gilbert Stuart, Rembrandt Peale and John Trumbull. It is the place where destinies of nations are determined, it is the place where all the big guns of American politics come together to find consensus over not just local matters, but matters that shape the structure of the world.
9. White House
Recognized by the entire world as the symbol of American government, White House is the residence and workplace of the President of the United States. It has hosted every president to date, since President John Adams. Although it dates back 200 years, it was party destroyed during the war of 1812. However, it was reconstructed few years later. The walls were burnt black during the war and while the reconstruction, the exterior needed little repair, except for the white paint on the walls. This lead to its name ‘White House.’ The location of the house was selected by George Washington, himself. It is a big structure, consisting of six Executive Residence, West Wing, East Wing, Blair House and Eisenhower Executive Office Building. All these building come together to make the entire White House Complex. Its picture is placed on the United States twenty-dollar bill. Its beauty and elegance has caused it to be placed second on the American Institute of Architects list of “America’s Favorite Architecture.’ Today, it is not just where the President resides and works, but a place where some of world’s most important decisions are made.
The beauty and historical importance of Washington, D.C is not limited to these 10 landmarks. There is more to see, more places to be. For instance, Union Station, Willard Hotel, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institute Building, and other such historic landmarks and artifacts that make up this city an absolutely awe-inspiring place to be. Every historic landmark, every piece of history, reminds the people of the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the price their ancestors have paid to make the United States of America what it is today. It tells us that we have a gem of a country, but it was not served to us on a plate, but we fought for it, we strived for it and we died for it. From Lincoln to JFK, from Benjamin Franklin to every American who has given his or her life for this country, the walk through history is a tribute, a commemoration of a past full of sacrifices and a future full of opportunities.