Washington, D.C.

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District of Columbia
US Capitol.jpg
DC flag.jpg
Country United States
Settled 1791
Population 617,996
Area (sq mi) 68.3 sq mi
Population density (/sq mi) 10,065
Current mayor Vincent C. Gray
Demonym Washingtonian

Washington, D.C., also known as the District of Columbia, since 1800 has been the capital of the United States.[1] Legally the name of the city is "District of Columbia".[2][3]


Pierre L'Enfant, appointed in 1791 by George Washington, designed much of the city, including the city's interesting quadrant formation. The city is divided into four quadrants, which meet at a central point at the United States Capitol. The Northwest quadrant is by far the largest, and locations in this quadrant include the White House, Ford's Theater (where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865), the National Zoo, and a number of the Smithsonian Museums. L'Enfant was fired over a dispute involving Thomas Jefferson before the city's design was completed.[4] In 1814, the British army attacked the city as a part of the War of 1812 and burned a number of public buildings in the city, including the White House. First Lady Dolly Madison famously saved a portrait of George Washington from the White House before the building was burned.[5] The city is located along the Potomac River. The Anacostia River branches off this, and runs through parts of the Southeast and Northeast Quadrants. This river has had problems with pollution.

Washington, D.C. is served by the Metrorail subway system.


Article I of the Constitution specifies that Congress has exclusive legislative jurisdiction over the District of Columbia.[6] In 1973, Congress passed the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, P.L. 93-198, which proposed a charter that delegated legislative authority to a locally-elected mayor and council; the charter was approved by local referendum in 1974.[7][8]

A view of the Washington Monument and United States Capitol In Washington D.C


The voters in Washington are 90% Democratic. It is America's fourth-most liberal city.[9] The current mayor of the District of Columbia is Vincent C. Gray.

Elected officials

  • Vincent C. Gray, Mayor.
  • Phil Mendelson, Council Chair
  • Michael A. Brown, Council Chair Pro Tempore
  • At-Large
    • David Catania
    • Michael A. Brown
    • Vincent Orange
  • Ward Members
    • Kenyan McDuffie
    • Jim Graham
    • Jack Evans
    • Mary M. Cheh
    • Muriel Bowser
    • Tommy Wells
    • Yvette Alexander
    • Marion Barry


Constitutional and legal disputes

On March 9, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down Washington, D.C.'s ban on private handgun possession, as it pertains to carrying them inside one's own home, on the grounds that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individual citizens to keep and bear firearms.[12] In a dissent, however, one judge wrote that the District of Columbia is not a state and therefore the Second Amendment does not apply within the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban was one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation.[13] On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals.[14]

The WWII memorial and Washington Monument

License plates in Washington, D.C. read "taxation without representation," referring to the fact that citizens of the District pay federal income taxes but do not have voting representation in either the Senate or House of Representatives.[15] These plates do not appear on the presidential limousines. George Walker Bush had the plates removed from the limousines after his inauguration, reversing William Jefferson Clinton's policy.[16] The capital has an elected House representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, but she can only vote in committee, not on the floor.[11][17]

Since 1992, Washington, D.C. has offered domestic partnerships.[18] In 2009, the D.C. Council enacted a law, effective March 3, 2010, that "expanded the definition of marriage in the District to include same-sex couples."[19]


The 2010 election was hotly contested and resulted in a number of convictions. Incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty lost the Democratic primary to Vincent C. Gray. However, his primary effort was assisted by a minor candidate Sulaimon Brown, who Gray paid to stay in the primary race and appointed to a position in his administration. When this became public, Gray fired Brown and the resulting investigation led to campaign staff being convicted. On Tuesday, July 10, 2010, Jeanne Clarke Harris, plead guilty to laundering campaign contributions from city contractor Jeffery E. Thompson through friends into the Gray campaign. The effort involved $653,000 in improperly reported donations. U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr said that the 2010 mayor's race was "compromised by backroom deals, secret payments and a flood of unreported cash."[20] Harris said that Thompson sought to hide his campaign contributions to Gray to avoid angering the Fenty administration that had awarded large contract to Thompson's firms.[20] Howard Brooks and Thomas W. Gore have previously plead guilty to charges surrounding the forwarding of Gray campaign cash to Brown.[20]

Kwame R. Brown was the Chairman of the District of Columbia Council until he resigned to plead guilty to bank fraud and campaign finance charges in 2012.

A probe of DC government employees disclosed that 318 of them had collected $1.9 million of unemployment benefits while on the DC payroll. The DC government is seeking return of the funds and has dismissed or prosecuted the employees.[21]

Current city councilman Marion Barry has previously served as Mayor from 1979 to 1991, and from 1995 to 1999. While Mayor, he was arrested for crack cocaine possession.[22] After serving his sentence, he successfully ran for city councilman in 2004. In November 2012, Barry organized the distribution of free Thanksgiving turkeys in his Ward that was funded by a $30,000 donation. DC law does not require disclosure of the donors, so Barry declined to name the funders, saying it's only "liberal white folks" who are interested in disclosure rules for turkey giveaways.[23]


DC flag.

Some official symbols are:

  • Motto: "Justia Omnibus" - Justice for All
  • Song: The Star-Spangled Banner
  • Bird: Wood thrush
  • Flower: American beauty rose
  • Tree: Scarlet Oak

See also

Tulips White House.jpg
US Capitol.

External links


  1. http://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_item/Nine_Capitals_of_the_United_States.htm
  2. District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871. Library of Congress
  3. District of Columbia Information.
  4. http://www.exploredc.org/index.php?id=3
  5. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/washingtonsack.htm
  6. http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlei.html#section8
  7. http://government.westlaw.com/linkedslice/default.asp?rs=gvt1.0&vr=2.0&sp=dcc-1000
  8. http://www.narpac.org/ITXICE.HTM
  9. http://www.govpro.com/News/Article/31439/
  10. Washington Post U.S. Congress Votes Database
  11. 11.0 11.1 Alas, D.C. is not a state The capital has an elected House representative, Eleanor Norton, but she can only vote in committee, not on the floor.
  12. See Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F. 3d 370 (2007) [quoted in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ____ (2008).]
  13. http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=topNews&storyid=2007-03-09T223851Z_01_N09246717_RTRUKOC_0_US-USA-GUNS-RULING.xml&src=rss
  14. District of Columbia v. Heller [1]
  15. http://dmv.dc.gov/serv/plates/tax.shtm
  16. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C06E0DB173CF93AA25752C0A9679C8B63
  17. Boehner elected House speaker as 112th Congress convenes
  18. Answers.com
  19. Jackson v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, citing D.C. Code § 46-401 (a) (Supp. 2010); 57 D.C. Reg. 27 (Jan. 1, 2010).
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Mike DeBonis and Nikita Stewart. "Gray's victory called tainted", July 11, 2012, p. A1. 
  21. Blinder, Alan. "D.C. says more than 300 city workers involved in unemployment scandal", Washington Examiner, November 19, 2012. Retrieved on November 21, 2012. 
  22. LaFraniere, Sharon. "Barry Arrested on Cocaine Charges in Undercover FBI, Police Operation", The Washington Post, January 19, 1990, p. A1. 
  23. Suderman, Alan. "Barry: Only “Liberal White Folks” Care Who Pays for My Turkey Giveaway", Washington City Paper, Nov. 19, 2012. Retrieved on November 21, 2012.