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What is the history of Washington, DC, USA?

People, Pictures, Old Postcards and Stories From the Past

Explore Washington, DC, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures and genealogy.
"Washington, a city, capital of the United States, named in honor of George Washington in 1791, is located in the District of Columbia, on the Potomac River, in lat. (Observatory) 38°53' 39" N. and lon. 77°2'48" W. from Greenwich. It is itself a meridian, and many of our maps reckon their longitude from this city. Its distances from ' principal cities of the United States are—from Baltimore, 40 miles; Philadelphia, 136; New York, 226; Albany, 376; Boston, 432; Detroit, 526; Chicago, 763; San Francisco, about 2000 (in an air-line); St. Louis, 856; Cincinnati, 497; Pittsburg, 223; Richmond, 122; Charleston, 544; Mobile, 1033; New Orleans, 1203; and Nashville, 714.

General Aspect.—Washington is situated on the left bank of the Potomac, and was originally embraced between two tributaries, the East Branch on the E. and Rock Creek on the W., the latter separating it from Georgetown. The plan of the city is unique, and everything is laid out on a scale that shows an anticipation of a great metropolis. Its £ extended 43 miles N.W. and S.E., and about 24 miles .E. and S.W., covering an area of nearly 11 square miles. The city was planned by an architect named L'Enfant. Taking the Capitol Hill for a centre, he laid down streets parallel thereto, and in due lines from E. to W. These are distinguished by letters,—the street immediately N. of the Capitol being called A Street North; that immediately S. of the Capitol, A Street South, and so on through most of the alphabet. Another set of streets, running from N. to S., intersect the lettered streets at right angles, and are distinguished by numbers, the first street E. of the Capitol being 1st Street East; the first street W. of the Capitol, 1st Street West, and so on. The city is supplied with the great est abundance of water, which is brought from the Great Falls of the Potomac, distance some 15 miles, by a conduit which passes through 11 tunnels and over 6 bridges, one of which, crossing the Cabin John Creek, is a beautiful piece of architecture, being of white marble, with a single arch of 220 feet span. The supply from this conduit is estimated at 36,000,000 gallons a day...

Population.-The resident population of Washington in 1870 was 109,199; in 1880, 147,293, of whom about one third were colored; in 1890, 188,932; of the district, 230,392. The numbers are increased during the sessions of Congress by the members and their families, and visitors spending the winter or a portion of it here, for the purpose of enjoying the society and gayety of the capital."

Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ...
Joseph Thomas
January 1, 1895
J.B. Lippincott


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Old Photos, Pictures, Advertisements and Postcards from Washington, DC, USA


Washington, DC, USA
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Fort Washington
Picturesque America... Oliver Bell Bunce, William Cullen Bryant
New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1872-1874.

Washington, DC, USA
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Thomas Circle

Washington, DC, USA
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1896 advertisement

The Betz
Turkish-Russian (folding) Medicated Vapor Bath
The Anderson Vapor Bath Co,
319 Seventh Street Northwest
Washington, D.C.

The Morning Times
Washington, District of Columbia
July 3, 1896

Washington, DC, USA
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Famous Japanese Cherry Blossoms, Washington, D.C.

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The Washington Post

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Washington, DC, USA
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Library of Congress

Washington, DC, USA
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Roku

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Stream On!

History and News of Washington, DC, USA

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  • 1790 - Washington, District of Columbia founded
    www.wikipedia.org
  • 1790 - July 16 - Washington, D. C. becomes capital of United States
    On July 16, 1790, Congress declared the city of Washington in the District of Columbia, the permanent capital of the United States.

    President... Read MORE...

  • 1801 - On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the first president to be inaugurated in Washington within the Senate chamber of the Capitol.
    www.ereferencedesk.com/ resources/ state-facts/ washington-dc.html
  • 1812 - During the War of 1812, most of the city (Washington, DC) was burned to the ground.
    British forces invaded the city and burned public and government buildings, including the White House, in response to American forces invading York, ... Read MORE...

  • 1844 - May 24 – The first electrical telegram is sent over the telegraph by Samuel F. B. Morse from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. to the B&O Railroad "outer depot" in Baltimore, Maryland, saying "What hath God wrought".
    Taken from the Bible, Numbers 23:23, and recorded on a paper tape, the phrase had been suggested to Morse by Annie Ellsworth, the young daughter of a ... Read MORE...

  • News  1845 - SPLENDID FIREWORKS AT THE PRESIDENT'S. AWFUL ACCIDENT.
    Washington, July 4, 10 o'clock, P.M.
    Mr. Harper: - I have just returned from the scene of a sudden and terrible accident, and have seated myself,... Read MORE...

  • News  1851 - December 24 – The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., burns.
    www.wikipedia.org
    December 24, 1851
  • News  1861 - February 23 – President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C. after an assassination attempt in Baltimore, Maryland.
    www.wikipedia.org
    February 23, 1861
  • News  1861 - ACCIDENT ON THE BALTIMORE AND OHIO RAILROAD.
    The passenger train which left Washington at a quarter to seven o'clock, yesterday morning, for this city, met with an accident just after starting... Read MORE...

  • 1862 - Slaves owned in Washington were emancipated on April 16, 1862, nine months before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863.
    www.ereferencedesk.com/ resources/ state-facts/ washington-dc.html
  • 1865 - April 14 - Assassination of Abraham Lincoln:
    Shortly after 10 p.m. on April 14, 1865, actor John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C., and fatally shot... Read MORE...

  • News  1869 - Strange Assault
    A man in Washington recently went to the house of a woman very sick with consumption, and beat her in a shocking manner. She had made her will in his ... Read MORE...

  • News  1870 - 4th of July, Christmas, New Year's and Thanksgiving Federal Holidays
    WASHINGTON, June 24. - SENATE. - The bill making the 4th of July, Christmas, New Year's and Thanksgiving Days legal holidays in the District of... Read MORE...

  • 1871 - February 21 – 41st United States Congress passes "An Act To Provide A Government For The District Of Columbia", also known as the Act of 1871,
    declaring the government of the District of Columbia a municipal corporation not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and ... Read MORE...

  • 1884 - December 6 – The Washington Monument is completed in Washington, D.C., becoming the tallest structure in the world at this date.
    www.wikipedia.org
    December 6, 1884
  • News  June 2, 1886: Grover Cleveland became the first president to marry in the White House
    The Old Farmer's Almanac www.almanac.com
    June 2, 1886
  • News  1888 - January 13 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C..
    www.wikipedia.org
    January 13, 1888
  • News  1888 - October 9 – The Washington Monument officially opens to the general public in Washington, D.C.
    www.wikipedia.org
    October 9, 1888
  • News  1888 - It was decided by the commissioners of the District of Columbia on the 25th to honor the memory of General Sheridan by naming a new street intersection Sheridan circle.
    St Joseph Herald
    Saint Joseph, Michigan
    November 3, 1888
  • News  June 2, 1889 - A great flood on the Potomac River in Washington, DC flooded streets and took out a span of Long Bridge (today's 14th Street Bridge). The flood stage reached was not equaled until 1936.
    National Weather Service (NOAA)
    June 2, 1889
  • News  1890 - October 11 – In Washington, D.C., the Daughters of the American Revolution is founded.
    www.wikipedia.org
    October 11, 1890
  • News  1893 - TERRIBLE. Eighty Persons Killed by a Falling Building.
    Ford's Theatre in Washington Collapsed Carrying Over 400 People into the Wreck-The Place Condemned Nearly 30 Years Ago-It was Used as Record Division ... Read MORE...

  • News  1895 - Blizzard - THE STORM STILL HOVERS OVER THE UNITED STATES. IT IS SEVEREST IN THE EAST. TRAFFIC ALMOST ENTIRELY AT A STANDSTILL -- RAILROAD TRAINS BLOCKADED -- BUSINESS PARALYZED -- PEOPLE FROZEN TO DEATH AT SEVERAL PLACES...
    ...In Washington.
    Washington, Feb. 9. - This city is passing through one of the severest spells of cold weather it has ever experienced. All trains... Read MORE...

  • News  1896 - FIERCE, FIRE RAGES. LIVES ALSO LOST IN THE FLAMES. SEVERAL FIREMEN CRUSHED TO DEATH UNDER FALLING WALLS IN WASHINGTON.
    Washington, May 19 - Fire swept away a whole block of commercial buildings opposite the Smithsonian Institute soon after 8 o'clock last evening. The... Read MORE...

  • News  1898 - The Highest Monument in the world is in Washington, D.C.
    It was erected in honor of George Washington. It is 555 feet high, 55 feet square at the base, and contains 18,000 blocks of marble, two feet thick.... Read MORE...

  • February 12, 1899 - Washington D.C. hit 15 degrees below zero.
    WeatherForYou.com
  • February 14, 1899 - A great blizzard struck the eastern U.S. Washington D.C. received 20.5 inches of snow to bring their total snow depth to nearly three feet.
    WeatherForYou.com
  • 1900 - Washington - The Nation's Capital by Frank A. Vanderlilp
    Many generations before George Washington, as the New World Romulus, paced off in person the metes and bounds of the Federal City, the powerful... Read MORE...

  • News  1901 - HAT COST HIS LIFE. Richard P. Walker Jumped Into Bay and Became Exhausted.
    Washington, Aug. 9. — While endeavoring to recover the hat of a friend, which had blown off into the bay, Richard P. Walker, a bricklayer, who lived... Read MORE...

  • News  1902 - January 28 – The Carnegie Institution is founded in Washington, DC with a $10 million gift from Andrew Carnegie.
    www.wikipedia.org
    January 28, 1902
  • News  1904 - Lightning Struck The Great Shaft. Bolt Entered Top Of Washington Monument And Followed Iron Work To Ground.
    Washington, May 13.-Colonel Symons, in charge of public buildings and grounds, has reported to General Mackenzie, chief of engineers, that the... Read MORE...

  • News  1907 - FIRE WRECKS THEATER. ACADEMY OF MUSIC LAID WASTE BY EARLY MORNING BLAZE. POLICE RESCUE OCCUPANTS.
    FLAMES OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN GUT AUDITORIUM AND STAGE, COMPLETELY DESTROYING OUTFIT OF "SECRETS OF POLICE" COMPANY, PLAYING WEEK'S ENGAGEMENT - FIREMEN... Read MORE...

  • News  1907 - VIOLENT EARTHQUAKE RECORDED AT CAPITAL Weather Bureau Officials Expect News That Somewhere in the World Unusually Severe Disturbance Has Occurred.
    WASHINGTON, Oct. 16. - The most violent earthquakes record ever made on the seismograph at the weather bureau started at 9:14 o'clock this morning.... Read MORE...

  • 1909 - March 4 - Though fair weather was forecast, President Taft was inaugurated amidst a furious storm. About ten inches of wet snow disrupted travel and communications. The storm drew much criticism against the U.S. Weather Bureau.
    WeatherForYou.com
  • 1910 -The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated on February 8, 1910, under the laws of the District of Columbia, by W. D. Boyce. On June 21, 1910, 34 national representatives of boys’ work agencies met to establish the Boy Scouts of America
    www.ereferencedesk.com/ resources/ state-facts/ washington-dc.html
  • March 27, 1912: First cherry trees, a gift from Japan, planted on Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.
    The Old Farmer's Almanac
    www.almanac.com
  • News  1915 - February 12 – In Washington, D.C., the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial is put into place.
    www.wikipedia.org
    February 12, 1915
  • 1922 - "The Knickerbocker Storm"
    January 27-28, 1922
    The Knickerbocker Storm battered the upper South and middle Atlantic United States for two days, dumping a record-breaking 28... Read MORE...

  • News  1922 - U.S. TREASURY ON FIRE THIS AFTERNOON. FIRE STILL RAGING AT 4 O'CLOCK - FIREMEN THOUGHT THEY WOULD CONTROL IT.
    Washington, Feb. 8. - Fire which broke out on the roof of the United States Treasury building here late today threatened to reach the test room of... Read MORE...

  • News  1922 - May 30 – In Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Memorial is dedicated.
    www.wikipedia.org
    May 30, 1922
  • News  1925 - August 8 – The Ku Klux Klan demonstrates its popularity by holding a parade in Washington DC;
    as many as 40,000 male and female members of the Klan march down Pennsylvania Avenue. In 1925, an estimated 5,000,000 members belong to the Ku Klux... Read MORE...

  • News  1929 - FIVE PEOPLE DIE IN STORE EXPLOSION. FIFTY OTHERS HURT WHEN BLAST WRECKS CAPITAL "FIVE AND TEN."
    Washington, Nov. 21. - (UP) - Five persons were dead, more than 30 were in hospitals and more than a score were suffering from less serious injuries... Read MORE...

  • News  1935 - February 22 – Airplanes are banned from flying over the White House.
    www.wikipedia.org
    February 22, 1935
  • January 20, 1937 - The wettest Inaugural Day of record with 1.77 inches of rain in 24 hours. Temperatures were only in the 30s as Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for his second term.
    WeatherForYou.com
  • News  1937 - July 2 - A guard takes his place at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, D.C.; continuous guard has been maintained there ever since.
    www.wikipedia.org
    July 2, 1937
  • 1939 - September 4 - A thunderstorm deluged Washington D.C. with 4.4 inches of rain in two hours.
    September of that year was very dry across much of the nation, and Washington D.C. received more rain in that two hour period than most other places... Read MORE...

  • News  1939 - November 15 – In Washington, D.C., U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt lays the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial.
    www.wikipedia.org
    November 15, 1939
  • News  1941 – June 16 - National Airport opens in Washington, DC.
    The airlines draw straws to determine who would land at National Airport first and American Airlines wins the honor. The airplane is piloted by... Read MORE...

  • 1963 - I Have a Dream Speech - Martin Luther King's Address at March on Washington August 28, 1963.
  • 1964 - was the first Presidential election in which Washington residents were able to vote.
    www.ereferencedesk.com/ resources/ state-facts/ washington-dc.html
  • 1972 - Watergate
  • 1972 - Hurricane Agnes
    June 21
    As Agnes, downgraded to a tropical storm, approaches the Chesapeake Bay, a weak cold front ahead of it dumps one to three inches of rain on... Read MORE...

  • 1974 - Richard Nixon resigns Presidency over Watergate

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Updated: 5/17/2019 9:54:31 AM

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