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Washington, DC: Fun Facts

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First of all, sorry for the delay between the last post and this one! It's not very nice to launch a new series and then take off... I went away for almost a week and only scheduled one post (which I scheduled for the day I left, not too swift). Now I am back and ready to write!

Second of all, it is ironic that I, as a foreigner, am writing "facts about DC", but bear with me. I have come to realize that many people don't know that much about DC, and that goes for people of all nationalities.
So here we go!

Fun Fact #1: DC is not a state. Many people don't realize that DC is not one of the 50 states. Which is not that weird, since it is listed with a "state acronym" just like all the states. I guess we can call it a special district, or something like that. The 2005 census stated the DC population at 582,000 people. If it were a state, it would be the smallest in area but it would have more people than Wyoming.

#2: DC has less self-governance than the states do. While the city has a mayor and a municipal government, the US Congress holds supreme authority over the city and the district, a right given to Congress in the Constitution. For certain periods in time, Congress has exercised this right quite heavily.

#3: US citizens in the District of Columbia do NOT have the same voting rights and privileges as citizens in the rest of the country. DC has no representation in the US Congress, only a non-voting congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton. This means that DC residents vote for president (in both primary and national elections, a privilege they have only had since 1961), but cannot vote for a representative or senators, which again means that they have no real say in Congress. To many DC folks, this is insulting, especially since the government is located within the city borders! It is thus the only place in the US where the residents not only can be ruled directly from the federal government, but have no voice in that government.

#4: The last fun fact (I guess it wasn't that fun after all!) is the reason that DC license plates read "Taxation without Representation." I.e., DC resident are taxed with local and federal taxes, but do not have representation. (Boston Tea Party, anyone?) President Bush, however, refuses to use these on White House cars and limos.

#5: There is a movement to get voting rights to the District; the movement is strong in DC but gets little love anywhere else. From Wikipedia: In 2007, the new Democratic majority in Congress announced plans to give voting representation in the House to the District. To attempt to gain bipartisan support, the bill would also give an additional seat to Utah, thus the membership of the House would be expanded by two seats. The bill - titled H.R. 1905 - passed a House vote on April 19, 2007, but was defeated in the Senate.

#6: OK, so this is an actual fun fact: The person who has maybe done the most to draw attention to the DC voting rights issue over the last few years, is Stephen Colbert of the fake news show “The Colbert Report.” He has had Eleanor Holmes Norton on his show several times where she has done a good job.

#7: DC people, especially younger ones, feel perpetually inferior to New York City. There is a lot of DC bashing going on by DC people. I guess it is the ones who move here for work and don’t like it. The blogs are always full of contempt for the awful style of DC residents (and those who work here.) I have to agree that there are a lot of really boring, poorly cut suits, but it makes it so much easier to seem well dressed! I would never cut it in NYC, but here I can feel above average! I will never, ever, in a million years, though, wear white sneakers with my skirt as I walk to work. Yes, some flat ballet slippers, or other comfortable shoes, are fine, but please, no white sneakers!!

#8: As I said, not a lot of fun facts yet, but here is one: Many people (this included me until a month ago) believe that the height restriction for buildings in DC is based on the Washington Monument (555 feet). Not the case! It is actually calculated using a formula based on the width of the street. The 1910 law says that no new buildings can be more than 20 feet (6 m) greater than the width of the adjacent street. However, the Monument is still the tallest building in the city.

#9: I turn to WikiAnswers for another fun fact: The Knights Tower at the Basillica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 329 feet is the second tallest. Other buildings heights are the Old Post Office Clock Tower at 315 feet, the Gloria in Excelsis Tower at the Washington National Cathedral at 301 feet, and the U.S. Capitol Dome at 288 feet.

#10: I love public transportation. I therefore want to leave you with this fun fact: There are 83 stations in the system. My favorites are the ones that incorporate no less than three names in their name. (It is pretty fun to make up new ones with more than three!) By three names I mean three distinct names (streets or other landmarks), not just three words in the name.They are:

Mt Vernon Sq-7th St-Convention Center

New York Ave-Florida Ave-Gallaudet University

U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo (the longest one, so the
best one!)

Vienna/Fairfax-GMU

West Falls Church-VT/UVA

Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan

Comments (5)

Anne:

Love those station names!

I must confess that I have been known to wear white sneakers with dress clothes, but only when I have a long way to walk (normally hubby drops me off at the door of my office building).

Interesting stuff! I knew some of this but not all. I was so impressed with the DC transit system last time I was there - a super easy and fast way to get around.

And I agree completely with you about the white sneakers!

Oh, and about the whole NYC inferiority complex, have you read Nora Ephron's novel "Heartburn"? The main character is a New Yorker who moves to DC after falling in love with a guy who lives there - some funny stuff about the rivalry and contrast between the two cities.

Anne, no worries about the sneakers!

Annie, thanks for the book recommendation, I will have to check it out, sounds fun!

Samantha:

Great Facts for my Report! Thanks!

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