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District of Columbia
Flag of Washington, D.C.
Official seal of Washington, D.C.
Location of Washington, D.C., in the United States and in relation to the states of Maryland and Virginia.
Location of Washington, D.C., in the United States and in relation to the states of Maryland and Virginia.
Country United States
Federal district District of Columbia
Approved July 16, 1790
Organized 1801
Consolidated 1871
Granted limited self-government 1973
Named for George Washington
 • Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D)
 • D.C. Council Kwame R. Brown (D), Chair
 • Federal district 68.3 sq mi (177.0 km2)
 • Land 61.4 sq mi (159.0 km2)
 • Water 6.9 sq mi (18.0 km2)
0–409 ft (0–125 m)
 (2011 estimate)
 • Federal district 617,996 (24th in U.S.)
 • Density 10,065/sq mi (3,886/km2)
 • Metro
5.58 million (7th in U.S.)
 • Demonym

Washington, D.C. is the capital city of the United States. It is not a state or in a state. The President of the United States and many major national government offices are in the city.

Washington was named after the first U.S. President, George Washington. The "D.C." stands for "District of Columbia", a special area created that is not a state. At first, it was made up of a piece from Virginia south of the Potomac River and a piece from Maryland north of the Potomac River. In 1847, Virginia's piece was returned to it, and is now Arlington County and part of the city of Alexandria. Since 1847, all of Washington D.C. is on the north side of the Potomac River. Washington, D.C. used to have other small towns that used "D.C.". These include Georgetown, D.C. and Alexandria, D.C.

Since 1800, Washington D.C. is the home of all three branches of the U.S. government: Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. All of the major political parties are based here. It is also the home of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Organization of American States (OAS). Because it is the home of the President and is important to American politics, many groups hold large demonstrations and protests. These are often on the National Mall, a large open park that has many monuments and museums. Washington D.C.'s many museums and monuments make it a popular place for tourists to visit.

Washington D.C. is called many things by many different people. It can be called D.C., The District of Columbia, The District, or sometimes just Washington. This can be confusing because there is also a U.S. state called Washington. To help with the confusion, sometimes the state of Washington is called "Washington State". In 2005, the United States Census Bureau said that about 582,049 people live in the District of Columbia.


When English people first came to the area, there was a Native American village on the spot called Nakochtank. This name survives in the name of the Anacostia River. This river was known for the healing properties of its pure water, and it is recorded that the Emperor Powhatan, who lived in what is now Richmond, Virginia, made the trip all the way to Nakochtank once for this reason. Today this river is one of the most polluted in the world.

The 1789 United States Constitution said that a capital city would be created in a district, but did not say where it should be. James Madison and others thought it should be far away from other states and cities. This way, it would be independent and not controlled by any state. In 1790, a was reached and capital was placed between Virginia and Maryland. It was a square, ten miles (16 km) long on each side, and split by the Potomac River, which separated the two states. Half of the district was in Maryland and the other half was in Virginia, and the two states gave this land to the government. In 1791, it was named Washington, the District of Columbia to honor George Washington. Columbia was another name for North America.

City Design

L'Enfant's plan for Washington, D.C., as revised by Andrew Ellicott (1792)

Washington, D.C. was planned before it was built. Pierre L'Enfant drew a plan for the city that said where all the streets, parks, and important buildings would be. Unlike most U.S. cities, D.C. has many roundabouts or traffic circles. The city was supposed to have long and wide avenues, and many open spaces for monuments and parks. The National Mall, a large park that connected the US Capitol to the Washington Monument, was one of the most important parts of L'Enfant's plan.


Local Government

Washington, D.C. is not a state, and its citizens have less control over their city than most Americans. While D.C. has an elected mayor and a city council since 1973, the U.S. Congress controls the local government and can overturn or get rid of any local laws. Congress and the people of D.C. often do not agree on what is best.

The current mayor of Washington, D.C. is Vincent C. Gray, a Democrat.

In Congress

The license plates on the cars in Washington D.C. say "Taxation Without Representation." This is a protest from people who live in Washington, D.C. about having to pay taxes to the United States without having a vote in the United States House of Representatives. It resembles the protest made by colonists before the American Revolution about having to pay taxes to England. Some people are against letting Washington, D.C. have a Congressman or Congresswoman because the Constitution only allows states to have Congressman or Congresswomen. Other people are against it because Washington, D.C. government is almost completely Democratic Party controlled.


Performing arts and music

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is along the Potomac River.

Washington, D.C. is the center of the nation for its arts. The National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, and the Washington Ballet are all inside the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Kennedy Center Honors are given every year to the people who have greatly helped the cultural life of the United States.[1] The President and First Lady usually go to the Honors ceremony.[2]


Washington D.C., as the national capital of the United States, has numerous media outlets in various mediums. Some of these media are known throughout the United States, including the newspaper The Washington Post and various broadcasting networks headquartered in D.C. .


See also: List of newspapers in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post is the oldest and most-read daily newspaper in Washington, and it has developed into one of the most reputable daily newspapers in the U.S. It is most notable for exposing the Watergate scandal, among other achievements. The Washington Post Company has multiple media holdings, including a daily free newspaper called the Express, the Washington Post News Service with Bloomberg News, Fashion Washington, El Tiempo Latino (a Spanish-language publication), The Slate Group, The Daily Herald (in Washington state), as well as the education company Kaplan, Inc.. The Washington Post emphasizes national and political news coverage but also covers regional and local stories. Headquartered in downtown Washington, the newspaper employs journalists at 11 regional bureaus in Maryland and Virginia and 14 international bureaus. Content is shared across titles within the Washington Post Company, and the Express, in particular, often reprints content from the Associated Press, Getty Images, and other wire sources.[3]

The daily Washington Times and the free weekly Washington City Paper also have substantial readership in the District. On February 1, 2005 the free daily tabloid Washington Examiner debuted, having been formed from a chain of suburban newspapers known as the Journal Newspapers. Bi-weekly Street Sense focuses on issues of homelessness poverty, and life on the streets. Other special-interest papers include Roll Call, a daily paper focused on politics.

Many neighborhoods in the District have their own community newspapers. Some of these include The Current Newspapers, which has editions serving Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, Chevy Chase and Upper Northwest, and a Capitol Hill paper called The Capitol Hill Current/Voice of the Hill. Additional papers include In-Towner (Dupont Circle, Logan Circle and Adams Morgan), Hill Rag (Capitol Hill), East of the River (Anacostia) and D.C. North (Northeast D.C.). In addition, several specialty newspapers serve the U.S. Congress; most notable are Roll Call, The Hill, and Politico.


See also: List of television shows set in Washington, D.C.

As of 2008, the Washington Metropolitan Area was the 9th largest designated market area in the U.S., with 2,321,610 TV homes (2.028% of the U.S. population).[4] The following is a list of television stations serving the metro area:

Digital Channel Digital Subchannel Analog Channel Callsign[5] Network[6] City of License Notes
4 (Virtual); 48 4.1 - WRC-TV NBC Washington, D.C. -
4.2 Cozi TV
5 (Virtual); 36 5.1 - WTTG-TV Fox Washington, D.C. -
- - 6 WDCN-LP - Fairfax, Virginia Spanish audio only
7 7.1 - WJLA-TV ABC Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Arlington, Virginia
7.2 MeTV
7.3 Live Well Network
9 9.1 - WUSA-TV CBS Washington, D.C. -
9.2 Bounce TV
14 (Virtual); 15 15.1 - WFDC-DT Univision Arlington, Virginia Broadcasts from Washington
20 (Virtual); 35 20.1 - WDCA MyNetworkTV Washington, D.C. -
22 (Virtual); 42 22.1 - WMPT PBS Annapolis, Maryland -
22.2 - MPT2
22.3 V-me -
- - 23 WDDN-LD Daystar Washington, D.C. -
- - 25 WZDC-CD Telemundo Washington, D.C. -
26 (Virtual); 27 26.1 - WETA-TV PBS (HD) Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Arlington, Virginia
26.2 Create
26.3 - WETA Kids Channel; Broadcasts from Arlington, Virginia
26.4 PBS (SD) Broadcasts from Arlington, Virginia
30 (Virtual); 24 30.1 - WNVC MHz Worldview Fairfax, Virginia Broadcasts from Falls Church, Virginia
30.2 NHK World
30.3 Metro Chinese Network
30.4 RT (English)
30.5 Al Jazeera English
30 30.6 - WNVT Euronews/VTV4 Goldvein, Virginia Broadcasts from Falls Church, Virginia
30.7 France 24
30.8 RT (Spanish)
30.9 Arirang
30.10 ETV
32 (Virtual); 33 32.1 - WHUT-TV PBS (HD) Washington, D.C. Howard University
32.2 PBS (SD)
47 (Virtual); 8 47.1 - WMDO-CA UniMás Washington, D.C. -
47.2 LATV
50 50.1 - WDCW-TV CW Washington, D.C. -
50.2 Antenna TV
50.3 This TV
- - 58 WIAV-LD AsiaVision Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Greenbelt, Maryland
66 (Virtual); 43 66.1 - WPXW-TV ION Manassas, Virginia Broadcasts from Fairfax Station, Virginia
66.2 qubo
66.3 ION Life

Most Baltimore area television stations can be seen in the Washington region. Besides being viewed clearly in the District, they can especially be seen in the suburbs of the Interstate 95 corridor between both cities. They are: WMAR 2 (ABC), WBAL 11 (NBC), WJZ 13 (CBS), WMPT 22 / WMPB 67 (PBS/MPB), WUTB 24 (MyNetwork TV), WBFF 45 (FOX), and WNUV 54 (The CW). A DC-MD-VA regional news station, TBD TV, is carried on Channel 8 on all cable systems in Washington, D.C. and surrounding communities.

Public, educational, and government access (PEG) on cable tv is provided by the Public Access Corporation of the District of Columbia on two channels simulcast to both local cable TV systems. One channel is devoted to religious programming and the other channel provides a diversity of offerings. The District's two Public, educational, and government access (PEG) Channels are DCTV, a non-profit media outlet that provides training and production opportunities to local residents, and OCT TV-16, which provides information about government programs, services, and related opportunities.

Major national broadcasters and cable outlets including NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and CNN maintain a significant presence in Washington, as do those from around the world including the BBC, CBC, and Al Jazeera. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Also, several cable television networks have their headquarters in the Washington area, including:

America's Most Wanted is the only network primetime program produced in Washington.


As of 2008, the Washington Metropolitan Area was the 9th largest radio market in the United States with a Metro 12+ Population of 4,238,100. The following is a list of radio stations serving the metro area:


Frequency Callsign Format City of License Notes
540 WGOP Adult Standards/MOR Pocomoke City, Maryland Broadcasts from Damascus, Maryland
570 WSPZ Sports Bethesda, Maryland Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
630 WMAL News/Talk Washington, D.C. -
730 WTNT Talk Alexandria, Virginia Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
780 WAVA Christian Arlington, Virginia -
900 WILC Spanish Contemporary Laurel, Maryland -
950 WCTN Spanish Contemporary Potomac, Maryland -
980 WTEM Sports Washington, D.C. ESPN Radio; Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
1030 WWGB Spanish Christian Indian Head, Maryland Broadcasts from Suitland, Maryland
1050 WZAA News/Talk Silver Spring, Maryland Broadcasts from Washington
1120 WUST World Ethnic Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Falls Church, Virginia
1160 WMET Variety Gaithersburg, Maryland Broadcasts from Silver Spring, Maryland
1220 WFAX Christian Falls Church, Virginia -
1260 WWRC News/Talk Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
1310 WDCT Korean Fairfax, Virginia -
1340 WYCB Urban Gospel Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Lanham, Maryland
1390 WZHF News Arlington, Virginia Voice of Russia English language service; Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
1450 WOL News/Talk Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Lanham, Maryland
1460 WKDV Spanish Variety Manassas, Virginia -
1480 WPWC Mexican Regional Dumfries, Virginia Broadcasts from Woodbridge, Virginia
1500 WFED News/Talk Washington, D.C. -
1540 WACA Spanish Contemporary Wheaton, Maryland -
1560 WKIK Country La Plata, Maryland Broadcasts from Mechanicsville, Maryland
1580 WJFK News/Talk Morningside, Maryland Broadcasts from Lanham, Maryland
1600 WLXE Spanish Rockville, Maryland -


Frequency Callsign Format City of License Notes
88.1 WMUC-FM Freeform College Park, Maryland UMD college radio
88.5 WAMU News/Talk Washington, D.C. NPR
89.3 WPFW Jazz Washington, D.C. -
90.1 WCSP-FM News/Talk Washington, D.C. C-SPAN
90.9 WETA Classical Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Arlington, Virginia
91.9 WGTS Contemporary Christian Takoma Park, Maryland -
92.7 WWXT Sports Prince Frederick, Maryland Repeater of WTEM
93.9 WKYS Urban Contemporary Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Lanham, Maryland
94.7 WIAD Hot Adult Contemporary Bethesda, Maryland Broadcasts from Silver Spring, Maryland
95.5 WPGC-FM Rhythmic CHR Morningside, Maryland Broadcasts from Lanham, Maryland
96.3 WHUR-FM Urban Adult Contemporary Washington, D.C. -
97.1 WASH-FM Adult Contemporary Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
98.7 WMZQ-FM Country Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
99.1 WNEW-FM News/Talk Bowie, Maryland Broadcasts from Lanham, Maryland
99.5 WIHT Pop CHR Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
100.3 WBIG-FM Classic Hits Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
101.1 WWDC Alternative Rock Washington, D.C. Broadcasts from Rockville, Maryland
102.3 WMMJ Urban Adult Contemporary Bethesda, Maryland Broadcasts from Lanham, Maryland
103.5 WTOP-FM News Washington, D.C. -
104.1 WPRS-FM Urban Gospel Waldorf, Maryland Broadcasts from Lanham, Maryland
105.1 WAVA-FM Contemporary Christian Arlington, Virginia -
105.9 WMAL-FM News/talk Woodbridge, Virginia Broadcasts from Washington
106.7 WJFK-FM Sports Manassas, Virginia Broadcasts from Fairfax, Virginia
107.3 WRQX Pop CHR Washington, D.C. -
107.9 WLZL Spanish Tropical Annapolis, Maryland -


Metro Center is the transfer station for the Red, Orange, and Blue Metrorail lines.

According to a 2010 study, Washington-area commuters spent 70 hours a year in traffic delays, which tied with Chicago for having the nation's worst road congestion.[7] However, 37% of Washington-area commuters take public transportation to work, the second-highest rate in the country.[8] An additional 12% of D.C. commuters walked to work, 6% carpooled, and 3% traveled by bicycle in 2010.[9]

Washington has very few freeways. The funds that had been dedicated for freeway construction were instead redirected to the region's public transportation infrastructure.[10] The interstate highways that do continue into Washington, including Interstate 66 and Interstate 395, both terminate shortly upon entering the city.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) operates the Washington Metro, the city's rapid transit system, as well as Metrobus. Both systems serve the District and its suburbs. Metro opened on March 27, 1976 and presently consists of 86 stations and 106.3 miles (171.1 km) of track.[11] With an average of about one million trips each weekday, Metro is the second-busiest rapid transit system in the country, after the New York City Subway. Metrobus serves over 400,000 riders each weekday, making it the nation's sixth-largest bus system.[12] The city also operates its own DC Circulator bus system, which connects commercial areas within central Washington.[13]

Union Station is a transportation hub for passengers on Amtrak, commuter rail lines, and the Washington Metro.

Union Station is the main train station in Washington, D.C., and handles about 70,000 people each day. It is Amtrak's second-busiest station with 4.6 million passengers annually and serves as the southern terminus for the Northeast Corridor and Acela Express routes. Maryland's MARC and Virginia's VRE commuter trains and the Metrorail Red Line also provide service into Union Station.[14] Expansion plans announced in 2011 will make Union Station the city's primary intercity bus transit center.[15]

Three major airports serve The District. The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is across from downtown Washington in Arlington, Virginia and has its own Metrorail station. Major international flights arrive and depart from Washington Dulles International Airport, 26.3 miles (42.3 km) west of the District in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia. Dulles will have a Metrorail station in 2016. Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is 31.7 miles (51.0 km) northeast of the District in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.


  1. "About the Kennedy Center Honors". The Kennedy Center. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  2. "The Board of Trustees". The Kennedy Center. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  3. Kristine Gloria and Kara Hadge, "An Information Community Case Study: Washington, DC," Washington, DC: New America Foundation, 2010, Retrieved 9 Sept. 2010.
  4. "Local Television Market Universe Estimates". Nielsen. 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  5. "TVQ TV Database Query". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  6. "Stations for Washington, District of Columbia". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
  7. Halsey III, Ashley (January 20, 2011). "Washington area tied with Chicago for traffic congestion, study finds". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  8. Christie, Les (June 29, 2007). "New Yorkers are top transit users". CNNMoney. Retrieved July 15, 2008.
  9. "District of Columbia Commuting Characteristics by Sex". 2010 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  10. Schrag, Zachary (2006). "Chapter 5: The Bridge". The Great Society Subway. Johns Hopkins University Press.
  11. "WMATA Facts" (PDF). WMATA. August 2008. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  12. Dawson, Christie R. (August 21, 2009). "Estimated Unliked Transit Passenger Trips" (PDF). American Public Transport Association. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
  13. "About DC Circulator". DC Circulator. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  14. "District of Columbia Amtrak Fact Sheet FY 2010" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  15. Thomson, Robert (July 30, 2011). "Union Station to become intercity bus center". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 17, 2011.

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