The Residence Act created Washington, DC, the United States government’s seat, and many of its agencies on July 16, 1790. DC is not part of any state and is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress. The city elects a Mayor and a 13 member council, which have governed the District since 1973. However, Congress maintains supreme authority over the city and may overturn any local laws, though that is rare. Residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the House of Representatives but have no representation in the Senate. In presidential elections, the District receives three electoral votes as permitted by the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961.
Washington, DC, has an estimated population of 693,972 as of July 2017. That number swells to more than one million when commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs travel to the District for the workweek.
Washington, DC, is rife with monuments and memorials. The National Mall dominates the downtown area with a large, open green space between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol. Because of its size and location, the Mall is the perfect location for protests, concerts, festivals, and presidential inaugurations. The Washington Monument is near the center of the Mall, south of the White House. Also on the mall are the National World War II Memorial at the east end of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the Korean War Veterans and Vietnam Veterans Memorials.
Directly south of the mall, the Tidal Basin features rows of famous Japanese cherry blossom trees gifted by Japan’s government and people. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, and the District of Columbia War Memorial surround the Tidal Basin.
Chartered by Congress in 1846, the Smithsonian Institute maintains most of the nation’s official museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. The Institute’s collections are open to the public and free of charge to visit.
The National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, and the Washington Ballet are all housed within the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Awarded each year, The Kennedy Center Honors showcase the very best that American performing artists have to offer. Site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Ford’s Theater continues to operate as a functioning performance space and a museum.
Duke Ellington, a DC native, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis have all played the U Street Corridor. This area is home to such venerable institutions as the Howard Theatre, Bohemian Caverns, and the Lincoln Theatre. Indie, punk, and alternative culture and music have a home in the District. Dischord Records, formed by Ian MacKaye when he was just a teenager, was one of the most crucial independent labels of the 1980s punk scene and eventually indie rock in the 1990s. MacKaye is considered one of the godfathers of punk. The Black Cat and the 9:30 Club bring popular acts to the U Street area and are mainstays of the alternative and indie music scene.