Washington DC is a completely political creation. The city was created as a political entity independent from the powerful state cities of the time and was positioned where it is as a compromise with the southern states who would not accept the national capital in the north. George Washington proposed a site just north of his estate and a federal district was carved out of the existing states of Virginia and Maryland. The federal government actually moved into the capital in 1800.
There is much history to experience in Washington, from wandering the historic streets of Georgetown and Alexandria to the more recent history of the "March on Washington" in 1963 where Martin Luther King gave his famous "I have a Dream" speech. The city is awash with monuments and buildings from the 1700's to the present day. A lot of the monuments and famous buildings are on the National Mall but there are plenty of other districts with a rich history to explore, Georgetown, Alexandria, Adams Morgan and Shaw are just a few.
Museums & Galleries
Washington is awash with monuments, galleries & museums and many of the museums are free as well as being world beaters on their particular subject. Some of the most famous are Newseum, the International Spy Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the American Art Museum, The National Gallery of Art, Textile Museum, the Kennedy Center and the home of an original copy of the Constitution, the National Archives. The Library of Congress shouldn't be missed. Then there is the Smithsonian Institute and its myriad museums in the region.
The old impression of Washington DC as a boring and dangerous city is long gone. These days the city has a thriving nightlife and restaurant scene along with some ethnic hubs like Little Ethiopia and the Salvadoran enclave of Mount Pleasant.
North Central is the area with the trendiest resaurants and nightspots, suburbs like Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan are overflowing with establishments. Shaw is the centre of the African American scene and contains Little Ethiopia. Georgetown is the home of upmarket dining and The East End is home to DC's Chinatown.
African American Heritage
Washington DC has the highest percentage of African American residents of any city in the US and it is a great place to immerse yourself in the culture. Shaw is a great place to start; it is a neighbourhood that is proud of it African American roots and has a lively social scene. One of the Smithsonian's many museums is the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Wealthy West Side