Washington, D.C., is the capital city of the United States of America. D.C. stands for District of Columbia, which is the federal district containing the city of Washington. Congress established the District of Columbia in 1790 from land belonging to the states of Maryland and Virginia. The U.S. Constitution provides for a federal district under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress to contain our nation’s federal government, so the District of Columbia is not a part of any one state.
Although surrounding states have large commercial farms, inside the District of Columbia is primarily urban agriculture. This includes indoor and outdoor gardens whose primary purpose is to supply food for local citizens or local businesses such as restaurants. These gardens are usually located near where their produce will be used. Some of these gardens are located near neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts” due to lack of nearby grocery stores. The gardens give locals the opportunity to grow their own fresh food, learn to run their own produce stands, or learn skills they can use in careers such as landscaping or greenhouse management.
Washington, D.C. is full of monuments and museums and history. It is very pedestrian-friendly, but the attractions are farther apart than they seem, so be prepared to easily get in your 20,000 steps for the day. Your first trip to the capital should definitely center around the National Mall.
Our first stop is the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. It is chock-full of exhibits related to our country’s quest to travel and explore faster and higher. Whether you’re looking up at the ceiling or down at the ground, you will see airplanes and rockets and moon rocks and lunar modules that are a part of our aeronautical history.
Just across the Mall is the National Museum of Natural History. The museum’s stated mission is to promote understanding of the natural world and our place in it. When you first enter the museum’s rotunda, you will see the 11-ton African elephant that has been in place since 1959. From there you are free to roam all three floors to explore exhibits of dinosaur fossils, insects, birds, sea animals, land animals, gems and minerals – the exhibits seem to go on forever!
Next door is the National Museum of American History. Whether you are old or young, there is something on display from pop culture in your childhood. You will find exhibits on the history of our country’s transportation, recordings, food, inventions, presidents, First Ladies, and more! There is even a display of our lunchboxes over the years.
The White House is the home of the President of the United States and his family. Many important decisions have been made here. Countless world leaders have been guests here. But if you want to get any closer than the big fence on Pennsylvania Avenue, you have to get reserved tickets months ahead of time.
The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated on April 13, 1943, on Thomas Jefferson’s 200th birthday. It was located where it could be seen from the White House. When you climb the many steps of the Jefferson Memorial, you need to turn around and try to hold the Washington Monument in your hand. It’s hard to do.
The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in 1922 in honor of Abraham Lincoln. It was placed at the end of the reflecting pool, in line with the Washington Monument.
The Washington Monument was dedicated in 1885 to honor George Washington, our first president. It was the tallest building in the world at that time. A 9-inch, 100-ounce, solid aluminum pyramid was placed at the very top of the monument to serve as part of the lightning protection system. The monument is struck by lightning multiple times each year.
(Photos, from top: Washington Monument, National Museum of Natural History, White House and Lincoln Memorial.)
If you go at just the right time in the spring, you can enjoy the cherry trees blossoming along the edge of the Tidal Basin. The mayor of Tokyo, Japan, presented 3000 cherry trees as a gift to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the friendship between the Japanese and American people. Hundreds of thousands of people come each year to see the blooms in March or April.
There is much more to do and see in Washington, D.C. You can watch our Road Trippin’ Across the USA! – Washington, D.C.! Video on the Dade County 4-H Facebook page or on our Dade County GA 4-H YouTube channel. A new video is posted each Monday at 11 a.m. Eastern.