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Discover These Obscure Facts About Washington, D.C.

Image Source: CSNafzger @ShutterStock
1. Discussing Statehood

The notion of Washington, D.C. becoming the 51st state has sparked public discussions in recent years. Advocates point out that with a population exceeding 700,000, it surpasses the entire populations of Wyoming or Vermont. Moreover, the city currently holds 3 electoral votes in the Electoral College. Despite the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2020 in favor of statehood, the Senate is unlikely to follow suit.

2. Constitutional Constraints on Statehood

Opponents argue that granting statehood to Washington, D.C. would violate the constitution. Article 1, Section 8 mandates the nation’s capital to be a federal district under Congressional oversight. Initially established from land ceded by Virginia and Maryland, the district encompasses not only Washington, D.C. but also the cities of Georgetown and Alexandria. Interestingly, Washington was the sole president who never resided in the district.

3. The Origin of the District’s Name

While it’s evident that the capital is named after George Washington, the inclusion of District of Columbia serves a dual purpose. It pays homage to Christopher Columbus and builds on the nickname “Columbia” adopted during the Revolutionary War. In 1791, George Washington, as the first president, chose the 100 square miles of land that would later become the nation’s capital.

4. Exclusive Burial of President Wilson

Woodrow Wilson, the president during World War I, remains the only chief executive interred in Washington, D.C. Passing away in 1924, three years post his presidency, Wilson’s resting place distinguishes him from presidents like William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, buried in Arlington, Virginia, just a short 15-minute drive from the capital. As for George Washington, his final resting place is Mount Vernon, Virginia, roughly a 30-minute drive away.

5. Linguistic Diversity Abounds

Washington, D.C. stands as a vibrant melting pot, with a tapestry of cultures from around the globe. The community speaks a minimum of 168 languages, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Hosting over 175 embassies, the city serves as a unique international destination for travelers. Nevertheless, New York City and Los Angeles surpass Washington, D.C. in terms of the variety of languages spoken.

6. Voting Rights Milestone in 1961

After over 150 years as the country’s capital, residents of Washington, D.C. were finally granted the right to vote in presidential elections following the passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961. This legislation also cemented the district’s 3 electoral votes, leading to D.C. residents participating in their first presidential election in 1964.

7. Monumental Heights of the Washington Monument

Upon its completion in 1884, the Washington Monument stood as the tallest structure globally, reaching just over 555 feet. This record was later surpassed by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, completed in 1889, soaring at 984 feet. Presently, the title of the world’s tallest structure belongs to the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, towering at 2,722 feet. Commencing construction in 1848, the Washington Monument faced delays in 1854 for over two decades due to funding challenges. Ironically, Washington remained the wealthiest president in much of U.S. history.

8. Abode of the Largest Library on Earth

Another renowned attraction in the city is the Library of Congress, recognized as the world’s largest library. Housing a vast collection of over 170 million items, predominantly focusing on copyright documentation, the library preserves the creations of various artists like authors, screenplay writers, and songwriters. The majority of works are attributed to lesser-known independent creators.

9. Architectural Roots of the Capitol Building

The original design of the U.S. Capitol building was penned by a Scottish doctor named William Thornton. His design was favored by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who collaborated to organize a design competition with a $500 prize. Despite the dissatisfaction with the 17 entries received, Washington and Jefferson selected Thornton’s design despite missing the submission deadline. The initial building was razed during the War of 1812 by the British but was reconstructed by 1819.

10. The Bronze Statue atop the Capitol

Perched atop the U.S. Capitol building is a bronze statue known as the Statue of Freedom. Standing at 19 feet tall and weighing in at 15,000 pounds, the statue depicts a female figure representing freedom.

11. The Historical Legacy of Watergate

The infamous Watergate hotel and office complex, synonymous with President Nixon’s resignation, remains operational despite changing ownership several times since the 1970s. The site of the notorious 1972 Democratic headquarters burglary, which escalated into one of the city’s most significant scandals, was acquired in 2017 for $135 million by the Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (WashREIT).

12. Rich Media Heritage

While the White House and Congress attract continuous media coverage for shaping history, the city’s role in media evolution often goes unnoticed. Presidents serve as pioneers in testing new technologies before they reach the general public. The earliest presidential photograph dates back to John Quincy Adams in 1843, post his presidency. Benjamin Harrison became the first president with a recorded voice in the 1880s, while William McKinley emerged as the first president captured on motion picture film a decade later. Presidents have played a pivotal role in introducing new media technologies like radio and television.

Image Source: CSNafzger @ShutterStock

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