United States

History of Washington D.C.

Brief summary history of Washington DC

Let’s know the brief history of Washington DC, in a summarized way.

The Washington D.C. Foundation

Washington DC was founded to be the capital of the United States. The first European to explore the area was the Englishman John Smith in 1608. Later, in the 17th century, settlers created tobacco plantations worked by black slaves.

The city of Alexandria was founded in 1749 and the city of Georgetown was established in 1751. Both flourished. After the War of Independence (1775-83) the federal government decided to create a capital. The constitution, which was ratified in 1788, allowed for the creation of a federal territory of no more than 10 square miles.

The site of Washington was chosen in 1790 after some dispute. Northern states wanted the federal government to take over debts incurred during the war. The southern states agreed on the condition that the new capital be located in the south.

In 1791 George Washington obtained land in Virginia and Maryland. Congress decided that the new city would be called Washington and would be in the Territory (later the District) of Columbia. That same year, in 1791, a French architect named Pierre L’Enfant (1754-1825) drew up a plan of the new capital.

In 1792 construction work began on the President’s House (later the White House). Many of the people who worked on the construction of the new capital were slaves.

Progress was slow, but the US government moved to Washington in 1800. In 1802 Robert Brent was appointed Washington’s first mayor. However, by the time the war with Great Britain began in 1812, Washington DC was still taking shape. In August 1814 the British burned many of the city’s public buildings.

The growth of Washington D.C.

In the early and mid-19th century, Washington DC continued to grow and develop. In 1829 an Englishman named James Smithson left behind books and minerals and the Smithsonian Institution was founded. By 1835 Washington was connected to Baltimore by rail.

However, there was racial tension in the growing city. There were many slaves in Washington, as well as free blacks. The tension erupted in the Snow Riot of 1835 when whites attacked blacks. Slavery was abolished in the District of Columbia in 1862.

Washington DC exploded during the American Civil War (1861-1965) and its population doubled to 130,000 in 1870. However, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Washington in 1865.

Life in Washington DC improved in the late 19th century. Howard University was founded in 1867. In 1871, President Grant appointed a Board of Public Works to improve Washington’s infrastructure. The Washington Monument was completed in 1884.

In 1901 the McMillan Plan for Washington DC was drafted and Pierre l’Enfant’s original plan was revised.

Union Station was built in 1908, and a height restriction was placed on new buildings in 1910 to preserve the existing streetscape. Also in 1910 the National Museum of Natural History was inaugurated. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, Washington remained deeply divided along racial lines. Race riots broke out again in 1919.

Washington DC in the last 100 years

During World War I, the population of Washington DC increased considerably. In the 1920s the city flourished and the Lincoln Memorial was built in 1922. Freer Art Gallery opened in 1923.

Like the rest of the US, Washington DC suffered in the depression of the 1930s. However, the Supreme Court was built in 1935 and the Federal Reserve building was built in 1937. In 1941 the Gallery opened National of Art. Then, during World War II, Washington’s population skyrocketed again. The Pentagon was built in 1943.

In 1963 Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington DC. When he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, Washington erupted in riots.

In the late 20th century, Washington DC continued to develop. The Kennedy Center opened in 1971 and the Hirshhorn Museum in 1974. In 1976 the Metrorail System opened. So did the National Air and Space Museum. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1982.

The United States Holocaust Museum opened in 1993. Also in 1993, the National Postal Museum opened. The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1995. The FDR Memorial opened in 1997 and the National WWII Memorial opened in 2004. Meanwhile, the International Spy Museum opened in Washington in 2002.

In 2017 the population of Washington DC was 693,000 inhabitants.

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