Sunday, 22 January 2012

Washington, D.C.

One of the most wonderful things about living in Virginia is my proximity to America's capital.  From Roanoke, Virginia, Washington, DC. is 240 miles northeast.  I took a day trip up there yesterday with a friend from graduate school.

Walking west along Jefferson Street, the Washington Monument and National Mall are visible to the right.

I've visited Washington, D.C. in the summer and fall, but this was my first experience with winter.  I wished I'd dressed warmer.  The pictures below showcase yesterday's weather...

Plants on the lawn of the U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters.

And again.  

Washington, D.C. is the nation's only city that is not located within one of its fifty states.  Bordered by Maryland and Virginia, it was formed in 1790 from land along the Potomac River donated by those states (the Virginia portion was returned in 1846).

For the tourist, many of the attractions in Washington, D.C. are set in and around the National Mall, a national park that runs from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial between Constitution and Independence Avenues.

Capitol Building:

Beautifully illuminated at night.

Lincoln Memorial:

Front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial is my favorite landmark in Washington, D.C.  It might be the architecture (architect Henry Bacon designed the building in the form of a Greek Doric temple)...

Interior columns and ceiling.


...or the sheer size of Lincoln's white marble statue (designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French) inside the building...

Lincoln's statue measures 19 feet from head to toe and weights 159 metric tons.  
...or two of Lincoln's speeches - The Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address - that are etched on the walls in chambers on opposite sides of the building...

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address is etched into the walls of the north chamber.  
...or the view of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and Washington Memorial from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial...

The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool was under renovation when I visited.  

...or the fact that Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered here on August 28th, 1963.

But whatever it is, standing inside the Lincoln Memorial gave me goosebumps yesterday.

In addition to the Lincoln Memorial, some other attractions to see in and around the National Mall include the Washington Memorial...

The World War II Memorial (not to mention other war memorial such as the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial and Korean Veterans War Memorial)...

The White House...

And all of the Smithsonian Museums.  The Smithsonian Institution operates nineteen museums as well as the National Zoological Park.  Eleven of the nineteen museums are located on the National Mall.  The Smithsonian museums are free to the public.

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, interior.

Sign for the Star Spangled Banner exhibit inside the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Internal courtyard at the Freer Gallery of Art, part of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art.

Some other Freer Gallery of Art pictures are shown below:

Despite the cold, it was a great day in the capital.

Every time I visit, I feel proud to be an American and lucky for all of the freedoms I have as a citizen.  No better place to fuel those patriotic fires than the streets of Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C. is also a cosmopolitan city with people and influences from all over the world.  So, being in the capital also inspires me to travel internationally.  It inspires me to visit and live in different countries and continents, to try to understand and appreciate the diversity in our world.

P.S. I would suggest spending a minimum of two or three days in Washington, D.C.  There is just so much to do here and I feel like, yesterday, we only scraped the surface.


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