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					14a. Washington D.C.
It is the capital of the USA. D.C. means District of Columbia (columbia was a popular name given to the U.S. in the 18th century in honor of Christopher Columbus). Washington D.C. is situated on the north-west coast of the USA on the Potomac River about 90 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the seat of the federal government of the United States, it has the 10 th large population in the country (metropolitan area 3 920 000 ) and covers an area of 180 sq km. The District of Columbia was established by Act of Congress in 1790. The site for the capital was chosen by president Washington himself because he knew this area very well - he was originally a Virginia planter and his plantation Mount Vernon was 16 miles down the Potomac. It isn’t the first capital. New York and Philadelphia used to be capital earlier. The city was designed by the French architect Pierre L’Enfant in the late 18th century and it was the first city in the world planned and built as the capital and the centre of the government. His plans was always respected by others architects. Its conception is purely French, it has long wide avenues, gardens, beautiful parks and no skyscrapers at all. The city was divided into four quadrants (Northwest NW, Southwest SW, Northeast NE, Southeast SE) with the Capitol as the centre. Streets and avenues were laid out on a grid scheme, named after the states of the Union and the city. The main industry in Washington is Federal Government, the second one is Turism. No other industries there and that is why the city seems so clean and nice. About 360 000 people are employed by the Federal Government, all of them work in the federally owned buildings which occupy 40 per cent of the city’s land. The climate is one of the worst in the country, very hot and muggy in summer and not too cold but damp in winter. Along the Potomac River there are situated the most important buildings in the city. The Capitol Building is situated on Capitol Hill. It is the seat of the House of Representatives (south wing) and the Senate (north wing). The Capitol has housed the US Congress since 1800. On the top of the building is the bronze Statue of Freedom. Every four years the president comes here for his Inauguration. The White House has been the residence of every American President except George Washington, who died one year before the building was finished. Exterior walls were made of sandstone and painted on white. Official rooms are on the first floor while second and third floor are reserved for the Presidential family. It has 132 rooms and 20 baths and showers. In Blue room the President and First Lady receive guests at state dinners. East room is largest, decorated in white and gold and used for the state receptions. The portraits of Presidents and first Ladies line the corridors and hallways of the ground floor. The house is open to the public. From the White House you can walk to the Washington Monument, which got the nickname „Pencil“ because of its shape. It’s the white marble obelisk which is about 170m high. It is the tallest structure in Washington, it was dedicated to the memory of the 1st American President. The Mall is a long boulevard that starts at the Capitol and extends two miles to the west, ending at the Washington Monument. The Lincoln Memorial was built in honor of the 16th President. It is in the classic style of a Greek temple. When Lincoln died existed 36 states so there are 36 columns. Inside is white marble statue of Abraham Lincoln seated in a chair. In the proximity of Lincoln Memorial, there is a black granite wall covered with silver names – Vietnam Veterans Memorial. There are names of almost 60 000 soldiers who were killed or missing in the Vietnam War. It’s simple but very impressive and moving.

On the other side of the Potomac river we can find the famous Arlington National Cemetery, where soldiers have been buried since Civil War. You can also see the graves of famous personalities of American history, including the simple grave of J.F.Kennedy. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is prominent among the many memorials in this cemetery. Cemetery contains the graves of over 200 000 military persons and it’s the most revered burial ground in this country. The Pentagon (the Department of Defence) is the largest office building in the world and there work about 23000 employees. It’s the centre of military forces and called the Pentagon because of its shape. There is also FBI building in Washinghton. Both places are open to the public. There is a lot of museums, galleries and theatres of course. The Smithsonian Institution being probably the most interesting. It’s non-profit corporation. It administers dozen of museums, galleries, The national ZOO park, Kennedy centre for the Performing Arts and a number of research and study laboratories. The National Air and Space Museum has exhibits and information about the history of flight. The National Gallery of Art includes artefacts from Middle Ages to the present, and especially the Italian Works (Rafael, Tizian or da Vinci) can be find there. The most prestige university in Washington is Georgetown University Other interesting building is the Library of Congress which contains over 90 million items and we can find there the Declaration of Independence. The most attractive parks are the Constitution Gardens and the West and East Potomac Parks.


				
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posted:11/12/2008
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