Washington D.C. Favorite Tips by Ewingjr98 Top 5 Page for this destination
Washington D.C. Favorites: 492 reviews and 674 photos
Favorite thing: Tickets for the one-hour guided tours of the Capitol are available for free at the Capitol Visitor's Center. Show up in the summer or on a busy weekend, and you might wait hours for your tour; luckily you can check out the brand new Exhibition Hall while you wait. Even better, try coming on a weekday in the early fall, and you might not wait more than a minute or two.
Guided tours will gather the group right next to the ticket lines, then move you into one of the Orientation Theaters in the Capitol Visitor Center. There your tour will start with a 13 minute movie called “Out of Many, One.”
After the video, you will go up the stairs to the back of the theater and meet your guide. The tour begins in the Crypt, the location which was originally intended for Washington's Tomb. Today the crypt is used mainly as a museum, and it houses several statues from the National Statuary Collection.
The second stop in the tour is upstairs in the Rotunda itself. This is where deceased Presidents lie in state. This is also home to the famous painting called the Apotheosis of Washington, which depicts Washington becoming a God. The room has several famous paintings including one called the Declaration of Independence, which is on the two dollar bill. The room also contains several statures from the National Statuary Collection including Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ronald Reagan, and Dwight Eisenhower.
Finally the last stop on the short tour is the National Statuary Hall or the Old Hall of the House, which was the original chamber of the House of Representatives. Today it houses the majority of the National Statuary Collection, and it is marked by several plaques denoting where several Presidents sat when they were still in Congress.
Favorite thing: An inscription on a wall next to the statue says:
FREEDOM KNOWS NO DYING
AND THE GREEDY CANNOT HARVEST
FIELDS WHERE SEAS ARE LYING,
CANNOT BIND THE LIVING SPIRIT
NOR THE LIVING WORD
CANNOT SMIRCH THE SACRED GLORY
OF TH'ALMIGHT LORD.
TARAS SHEVCHENKO 'THE CAUCASUS.' 1845
THE LIBERATION, FREEDOM AND
INDEPENDENCE OF ALL CAPTIVE NATIONS
THIS MONUMENT OF TARAS SHEVCHENKO, 19TH
CENTURY UKRAINIAN POET AND FIGHTER FOR
INDEPENDENCE OF UKRAINE AND THE FREEDOM
OF ALL MANKIND, WHO UNDER FOREIGN RUSSIAN
IMPERIALIST TYRANNY AND COLONIAL RULE
APPEALED FOR "THE NEW AND RIGHTEOUS LAW OF
WASHINGTON," WAS UNVEILED ON JUNE 27, 1964.
THIS HISTORIC EVENT COMMEMORATED THE
150TH ANNIVERSARY OF SHEVCHENKO'S BIRTH.
THE MEMORIAL WAS AUTHORIZED BY THE 86TH
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
ON AUGUST 31, 1960, AND SIGNED INTO PUBLIC
LAW 86-749 BY DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, THE 34TH
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
ON SEPTEMBER 13, 1960. THE STATUE WAS ERECTED
BY AMERICANS OF UKRAINIAN ANCESTRY AND FRIENDS
Favorite thing: The World Bank and the IMF are known as the "Bretton Woods Institutions" after the New Hampshire town where they were founded in July 1944. Both count almost all nations as members, and the members, in a sense, own them and direct operations. Both organizations have hundreds of billions of dollars at their disposal to help strengthen their member nations' economies. They are also located on the same block on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.
Despite these similarities, there are distinct differences between the organizations. The primary role of the World Bank is to finance economic development, while the role of the IMF is to standardize and control members' exchange rates and monetary policies in order to prevent economic depressions. The funds of the World Bank are borrowed from richer developed nations and loaned to poor, undeveloped nations to finance development. IMF's funds are basically membership dues, and are used to assist countries in times of economic instability.
Favorite thing: Dan Brown, author of Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code, released a new book in late 2009 called The Lost Symbol. This book takes place almost entirely in Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virgina. Here is a list of each of the locations in the city where the characters in the book end up:
US Capitol Building & Visitors Center
Library of Congress
Folger Shakespeare Library
US Botanic Garden
Freedom Plaza (aka Pulaski Park)
The DC Metro
King Street Station & the George Washington Masonic Monument
Washington National Cathedral
Tenleytown Cathedral College
Franklin Square - I Street between 13th and 14th Streets
Almas Shrine Temple
Kalorama Heights neighborhood
Smithsonian Museum Support Center in Suitland, MD and the Suitland Parkway
House of the Temple
CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA
Favorite thing: The city police force in Washington is called the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. The police department has over 4,000 officers in seven districts, making it the 10th largest city police force in the country.
In addition to the city police, nine universities have police departments with jurisdictions inside Washington DC including American, Catholic, Georgetown, George Washington, and Howard.
The federal buildings and parks also have their own police presence, most notably the Secret Service at the White House, the National Capitol Police at the Capitol Building complex, and the US Park Police at the Mall, Rock Creek Park, and all of the other national parks in the city.
Favorite thing: The Federal Reserve System (or the "Fed") is headquartered in the Eccles Building in downtown Washington DC near the Mall. This building was completed in 1937 and dedicated by President Roosevelt. The building was named after former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Marriner S. Eccles, in 1982. The building was originally constructed as a four-story building in the shape of an H, with the fifth story in the center section added in the 1970s.
The Federal Reserve is headquartered here in Washington, with twelve regional banks throughout the US. The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 to help create financial stability. Just 22 years later the US found itself in the Great Depression.
Today the Fed has a broad role, serving as the US central bank, managing US monetary policy, and balancing public and private interests of bank and the government to protect consumer interests and the health of the economy.
Favorite thing: The J. Edgar Hoover Building is the FBI's headquarters. Construction of this monstrous building in central Washington DC began in the 1960s, and it was officially dedicated in 1975. Located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, it was open for public tours until 1999. Some 7,000 employees are said to work at this building.
Besides this headquarters building, the FBI has 56 field offices and offices in many US Embassies overseas.
The building is named after J. Edgar Hoover, who served as the first director of the Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. He served in this capacity for some 48 years during the fight against organized crime and the struggle against Communism in the 1950s.
Capitol Building over the Potomac
Favorite thing: The Potomac River runs 383 miles from the West Virginia-Maryland border to the Chesapeake Bay south of Washington DC. Some of the major cities along the river include Harper's Ferry, WV, Washington, DC, Arlington, VA, and Alexandria, VA. The river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D.C. to the north and West Virginia and Virginia to the south. At the mouth of the Potomac, the river is 11 miles wide, between Point Lookout, Maryland and Smith Point, Virginia.
Numerous famous Americans were born and lived along the Potomac. Two of the most famous are George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Of course, every President and Congressman has also resided along the river while serving in Washington DC!
Various methods have been used to navigate the river. The Patowmack Canal was envisioned and partially funded by George Washington to connect the area Georgetown with Cumberland, Maryland. Started in 1785, its five short canals were not completed until 1802, and they ceased operations in 1830. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal operated along the opposite bank of the Potomac in Maryland from 1850 to 1924 and it also connected Cumberland to Washington, D.C.
Today numerous parks line the Potomac. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park runs is 184.5 miles along the north side of the river. Also in Maryland, south of DC, you will find Oxon Hill Farm, Fort Foot National Park, Fort Washington Park, Piscataway National Park, and Point Lookout State Park. In Washington DC you will find Georgetown Waterfront Park, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Lady Bird Johnson Park, West Potomac Park, and East Potomac Park including Hains Point. In Virginia, you'll find Harpers Ferry National Park, Balls Bluff Battlefield, Great Falls Park, Jones Point Park, Fort Hunt National Park, Mount Vernon, Leesylvania State Park, and George Washington's Birthplace National Park.
Favorite thing: River East -- those areas of Washington DC that are located East of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers -- are seldom visited by tourists. Many people who are unfamiliar with the city's geography consider the entire area east of the rivers, Anacostia, but there are actually about 30 neighborhoods here, with the largest being Anacostia, Capitol Heights, Benning, and Deanwood. This area, like other parts of DC, also includes numerous parks including Kenilworth Gardens, Fort Dupont Park, Fort Stanton Park, and Anacostia Park. The area also has several major city and federal offices such as Bolling Air Force Base, Anacostia Naval Station, the Naval Research Labs, the city sewage treatment plant, and St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
The Anacostia neighborhood of DC has a terrible reputation as the city's most crime-ridden area, but it does have a historic district, as well as several historic sites and parks. This neighborhood was established in the 1850s as an inexpensive working-class residential area. Until the 1950s its inhabitants were mostly white, but since then the balance has shifted making this area predominantly black. Since the 1980s Anacostia helped make DC the "Murder Capital of the World" as this neighborhood accounted for about half of the city's murders. Anacostia is home to Frederick Douglass's former home, which is a National Historic Park.
On the plus sides, the River East neighborhoods are getting wealthier. A report in 2007 showed the three River East zip codes all had 20 to 30 percent increases in the average value of homes sold compared to the previous year while the rest of the city was mostly static in home values.
Near Rock Creek Park in Foggy Bottom
Favorite thing: Foggy Bottom is famous for two of Washington DC's most well-known institutions: George Washington University and the US Department of State. Other significant landmarks here include Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the infamous the Watergate complex that was central to the Nixon scandals.
Foggy Bottom is bounded by the Potomac River and Rock Creek Park to the west, Pennsylvania Avenue to the north, the White House and its Ellipse to the east, and the National Mall to the south... it would be hard to find an area of DC bounded by more well-known landmarks. On the edge of Foggy Bottom near the White House you will find the United States Department of the Interior, the World Bank, the Office of Personnel Management, Constitution Hall, the American Red Cross, the Federal Reserve Board, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Organization of American States.
This neighborhood is also home to the Foggy Bottom Historic District, consisting mainly of row houses built from the 1870s to the early 1900s (the entire historic district is only perhaps three blocks, all squished between GWU and Rock Creek Park. Also in Foggy Bottom you will find Washington Circle, with the centerpiece being a statue of our first president, George Washington.
That being said, Foggy Bottom is an altogether boring neighborhood with very few bars and restaurants, and virtually no nightlife. This might be a place you pass through on your way to Georgetown or the White House, but probably not a destination if you are visiting DC on a short trip.
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