History of Washington DC

By | September 23, 2022

According to All City Population, Washington DC is the capital of the United States. DC stands for District of Colombia. The federal district does not belong to any state, because it was wanted that no state could exert influence over the government capital. The city covers 159 square kilometers and has about 560,000 inhabitants. Named after America’s first president, George Washington, the city is located on the Potomac River.

The area is first explored in 1608 by the English explorer John Smith. At that time, it is inhabited by the Powhatan and Piscataway Indians. Smith founds two places next to the Potomac, Georgetown and Alexandria. The first is now a Washington DC neighborhood.

After the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the capital of the United States is located in New York City and Philadelphia. However, according to the constitution, the capital cannot be located in a state. After a lively consultation, the area on the Potomac River is designated, between the states of Maryland and Virginia. In 1792, construction began on the White House and the Capitol, the building housing the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives (Congress). In 1800 those buildings are put into use. George Washington will be president by then, making him the only president who has never lived in the White House.

American civil war

Washington DC’s location on the Potomac proves to be inconvenient when British troops move up the river in the War of 1812 and invade the city. In 1814 large parts of the city are set on fire. The government buildings are not spared either. After that war, fortresses are built around the city to protect the city. Some of them are still there. Slavery was abolished in the city in 1862.

Although the District of Colombia initially consists of several places, it is decided in 1878 that the whole will belong to the city of Washington. The city is administered by the federal government. Only in 1973 does the city get its own city council and mayor.

‘I have a dream’

In 1954, Washington DC became the first city in the United States to open its schools to both whites and blacks. Three years later, the majority of the population is black and the city becomes the center of the civil rights movement. In 1963, a civil rights march is held in the city, with Martin Luther King giving his famous speech near the Lincoln Memorial. In 1968, after King’s assassination, violent race riots take place. King’s speech is played at the Lincoln Memorial on the third Monday of January.


Washington has been the stage for terrorists several times. In 1954, five congressmen are shot at by a group of Puerto Ricans. Washington was also targeted on September 11, 2001. One of the planes lands in the Pentagon, killing 189. The plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was also believed to have been on its way to the White House or the Capitol.

Because Washington DC does not belong to any state, residents of the city are not allowed to run in Congressional elections. However, they are allowed to vote in the presidential elections.

Washington DC Flag