District of Columbia (geography)
Apart from its role containing the capital city of the US, the District of Columbia, coterminous with Washington, can also be described by its own historical, municipal, and physical geographic characteristics, many of which aren't well documented. The term "Washington" or "DC" is often used by residents for the metropolitan area including the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, while Washington proper is called simply "the District". The area is 61 sq. miles (135 sq. km).
1901 plan for the National Mall proposed by the McMillan Commission.
The District of Columbia was authorized by Congress in 1790, after at least seven years of sometimes heated contention among states, as the permanent seat for the government of the new country. The new territory was to be made of land from the states of Virginia and Maryland. The United States was occasionally called Columbia during and after the time of the revolution, after Christopher Columbus, and the new district (originally called a territory) received that name rather than the more unwieldy District of the United States.
The choice of the exact site on the Potomac River was left to the first president, George Washington. He chose a 10-mile-(16 km)-square area that included the existing villages of Georgetown and Alexandria, and another called Hamburg in the Foggy Bottom area. A new city, eventually named Washington City, was laid out in undeveloped area within the district. The remainder of the territory was designated Washington County (on the Maryland side of the Potomac) and Alexandria County (on the Virginia side).
The land from the State of Virginia was eventually returned to the state in 1846. This land in Virginia makes up the modern area of Arlington County and the old part of Alexandria, Virginia, both which are considered suburbs of Washington. In fact, the Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon complex are both located in Arlington but are largely tied to the federal government in Washington. Between 1790 and 1846, Alexandria was referred to as "Alexandria, D.C."
The District has many distinct historic neighborhoods, which include Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Foggy Bottom, Tenleytown, Capitol Hill, Anacostia, and Congress Heights.
The Georgetown neighborhood was originally part of Maryland and was the only significant population in the area that would become the District of Columbia. Georgetown became part of the District in 1790 when the Federal City was first created, but Georgetown remained an independent city, referred to as "Georgetown, D.C.", until 1871, when it was merged with Washington City and Washington County, completing the process of Washington and the District of Columbia occupying the same geographic borders.
The monumental core of the city consists of the National Mall and many key federal buildings, monuments, and museums, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the National Air and Space Museum. Its layout is based on that proposed by the McMillan Commission report in 1901.
The physical geography of the District of Columbia is very similar to the physical geography of much of Maryland. The District has three natural flowing bodies of water: the Potomac River, the Anacostia River, and Rock Creek. Both Anacostia River and Rock Creek are tributaries of the Potomac. There are also two man-made reservoirs: Dalecarlia Reservoir, which crosses over the northwest border of the District from Maryland, and McMillan Reservoir near Howard University.
The highest point in the District of Columbia is 410 feet (125 m) above sea level at Tenleytown. The lowest point is 1 foot, which occurs at least as far up the Potomac River as 0.35 miles (0.57 km) upstream from the terminus of Rock Creek.
The District of Columbia is divided into eight wards and 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) within these wards. The total number of named neighborhoods is 127.
|Barnaby Woods||Manor Park|
|Brightwood Park||Queens Chapel |
|Colonial Village||Rock Creek Gardens|
|Fort Totten ||Takoma|
|Lamond Riggs |
|Bloomingdale||Lamond Riggs |
|Carver Langston||North Michigan Park|
|Edgewood||Queens Chapel |
|Fort Lincoln||South Central|
|Fort Totten ||Trinidad|
|Eastland Gardens||Mahaning Heights|
|Fairfax Village||Marshall Heights|
|Fairmont Heights||Naylor Gardens|
|Fort Davis Park||Penn Branch|
|Fort Dupont Park||Randle Highlands|
|Good Hope||River Terrace|
|Grant Park||Summit Park|
|Barry Farm||Knox Hill|
|Buena Vista||Shipley Terrace|
|Congress Heights||Washington Highlands|
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