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Washington, D.C.

Landmarks

The city spreads out over 69 sq mi (179 sq km), including 8 sq mi (20.7 sq km) of water surface, with tree-shaded thoroughfares and many open vistas. Numerous impressive government buildings near the city's center are built of white or gray stone in the classical style, and there are many fine homes. Among other attractive buildings are the embassies and legations of many foreign countries, many of them lining "Embassy Row" on Massachusetts Ave. The larger of the city's fine parks are West Potomac Park, which extends S from the Lincoln Memorial and includes the Tidal Basin, flanked by the famous Japanese cherry trees; East Potomac Park, an area of reclaimed land jutting S from the Jefferson Memorial; Rock Creek Park, with almost 1,800 acres (728 hectares) of natural woodlands and extensive recreation facilities, and the adjoining National Zoological Park; and Anacostia Park, adjacent to the National Arboretum.

Besides the Capitol and the White House, other important government buildings and places of historic interest include the Senate and House of Representatives office buildings, the Supreme Court Building, the Pentagon (in Virginia), the Federal Bureau of Investigation building, the Library of Congress, the National Archives Building, Constitution Hall, the Ronald Reagan Building, the Watergate apartment complex, the State Department ("Foggy Bottom"), and the headquarters of the World Bank. Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was shot, has been restored. In 1974 the Admiral's House at the U.S. Naval Observatory became the official residence of the vice president. Of historic interest is Fort Washington (built 1809, destroyed 1814, rebuilt by 1824).

Best known of the city's many statues and monuments are the Washington Monument, at the western end of the long grass-covered National Mall; the Lincoln Memorial, with its reflecting pool; the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial flanking the pool and the World War II Memorial at the pool's far end; and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, all overlooking the Tidal Basin. Among Washington's famous churches are Washington National Cathedral (Episcopal), which was completed in 1990; and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States. The city also contains Nationals Park, the home to major-league baseball's Nationals, and the Capitals (hockey) and Wizards (basketball) play in the Verizon Center. The Washington Redskins play in nearby Landover, Md.

The Arlington Memorial Bridge across the Potomac connects the capital with Arlington National Cemetery. Also in Arlington is the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, one of the largest statues ever cast in bronze, and the U.S. Air Force Memorial. In the Potomac itself lies Theodore Roosevelt Island, thickly wooded and with many foot trails.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography

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