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Washington, DC: The layout

Washington, DC has distinctive neighborhoods, many with beautiful row houses lining the streets. As I mentioned earlier, DC is on a grid, making the city easy to navigate. The city was designed by French-born architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who drew up a basic plan in 1791. I want to post some photos from the different neighborhoods, but I wanted to put it a little history of the city’s layout first. (And one fun fact: As many of you know, Washington has many avenues named after states. Only California and Ohio do not have avenues; instead there is California Street and Ohio Drive. Washington state did not have its own avenue either, to avoid confusion, but eventually got one – however, it does not have any addresses on it.)

From Wikipedia:

The plan incorporated broad avenues and major streets which radiate out from traffic circles and rectangular parks, providing open space and landscaping, sites for various statues and smaller memorials, and vistas towards important landmarks and monuments. While all of the original colonies had avenues named for them, the most prominent states received more prestigious locations under Andrew Ellicott's later plan for the city. The initial plan for the "Federal District" was a diamond, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (259 km²). The actual site on the Potomac River was chosen by President Washington. As originally platted, the District of Columbia was carved out of two adjacent counties - one in Virginia, one in Maryland — and the portion from each state was organized as a separate county. Alexandria County was on the south bank of the Potomac and was retroceded to Virginia in the nineteenth century (where it later became the independent city of Alexandria and the County of Arlington). The County of Washington was on the north bank.

In addition to the new City of Washington being constructed in the geographic and geometric center of the District, there were a number of other communities — including Georgetown (founded in 1751 and named for its co-founders and/or King George II), Tenley, and the village commonly known today as "Anacostia." In time, all of these communities were amalgamated to the City of Washington, which thus became coextensive with the District of Columbia so that a separate County of Washington was no longer needed, so it was abolished.

Comments (1)

This is really interesting. As a kid, I knew there was a Massachusetts Ave (since I grew up in Massachusetts) but didn't know that there was a street for each state. I wonder what exactly is on Washington Ave since there are no addresses there. And, I wonder how they decided which states were the "prominent states".

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