When Pierre Charles L'Enfant gazed northward along the banks of the Potomac River in 1791, he envisioned a "pedestal waiting for a monument." Since that day, Washington, DC has evolved into a fascinating, lively city combining grand, neoclassical government buildings, monuments, memorials, museums and the National Mall with colorful neighborhoods, art, theater, music and culture.

Washington, DC is a powerful symbol not only of our nation but also of democracy and freedom. The District of Columbia's neighborhoods, people, history and culture truly embody the American Experience - from Duke Ellington to John Phillip Sousa and from the Civil War to civil rights. Only in Washington, DC, can visitors be inspired by touring the magnificent Capitol Building and Washington Monument by day and be moved by taking in magical performances by the National Symphony and world-class opera by night.

During your stay in the nation's capital city, we encourage you to discover Washington, DC as more than just a tourist. Become a part of the American Experience. Marvel at the Lincoln Memorial. Show your children the Star-Spangled Banner. Stop in at Eastern Market, an amazing European-style gathering of food vendors and artisans. Explore Jacqueline Kennedy's Washington through a Citywide Celebration and discover how her love of the arts and this city transformed the nation's capital.

Located midway along the eastern seaboard of the United States, south of Maryland, north of Virginia and 233 miles south of New York City, the Washington, DC metropolitan area refers to the District of Columbia, plus 7 Maryland counties (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's), 5 Virginia counties (Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, Prince William and Stafford) and 5 Virginia cities (Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park).

The District of Columbia is 67 square miles and divided into 4 quadrants: Northwest, Southwest, Northeast and Southeast. The U.S. Capitol building marks the center where the quadrants meet. Numbered streets run north-south. Lettered streets run east-west (there are no J, X, Y or Z streets), becoming 2-syllable names, then 3-syllable names as you travel farther out from the center. Avenues named for U.S. states run diagonally, often meeting at traffic circles and squares.

Highest is 420 feet; lowest is sea level.

The population is approximately 572,000 within the city limits of Washington DC and 5.4 million for the entire Washington Metro area (this includes surrounding counties of Virginia and Maryland).

Washington DC's primary industry after the federal government is tourism. Other important industries include trade associations, as Washington, DC is home to more associations than any other U.S. city; law; higher education; medicine/medical research; government-related research and publishing. Washington, DC metropolitan area is also world headquarters for corporations such as US Airways, Marriott, Amtrak, Gannett News, Mobil Oil, Discovery Communication and the International Monetary Fund.

Experience the glory of all four seasons here in Washington, DC. The average temperatures in the Washington DC Metro area are as follows: Winter - 45.1 F; Spring - 66.5 F; Summer - 86.7 F; and Fall - 69.2 F.  Warm weather usually prevails from April until as late as October. Winters are short here, with more rain than snow.

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