Washington DC Real Estate -- History

(info from wikipedia)

A Southern site for the new country's capital was agreed upon at a dinner between James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, hosted by Thomas Jefferson.[1] The initial plan for the "Federal City" was a diamond, measuring ten miles on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 square kilometers). The actual site on the Potomac River was chosen by President Washington. Washington may have chosen the site for its natural scenery, believing the Potomac would become a great navigable waterway. The city was officially named "Washington" on September 9, 1791. Out of modesty, George Washington never referred to it as such, preferring to call it "the Federal City". Despite choosing the site and living nearby at Mount Vernon, he rarely visited.

The city was designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant, Major in the United States Army.

In 1791-92 Andrew Ellicott and the free African-American Benjamin Banneker surveyed the border of the District with both Virginia and Maryland, placing boundary stones at every mile point; many of these still stand.

The cornerstone of the White House – the first new constructed building of the new Capital – was laid on October 13, 1792. That was the day after the very first solemn celebrations of Columbus Day, marking its 300th anniversary.

On August 24, 1814, British forces burned the capital during the most notable raid of the War of 1812 in retaliation for the sacking and burning of York (modern day Toronto) during the winter months, leaving many Canadians homeless. President James Madison and U.S. forces fled before the British forces, who burned public buildings including the Capitol, the Navy Yard (actually burned by American sailors), and the Treasury building. The Presidential Mansion, The White House, was also burned and gutted. The home of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, located at the Marine Barracks, was one of the few Government buildings not burned by the raiding British soldiers out of a sign of respect and is now the oldest public building in continuous use in the nation's capital. The damage done by the British forces is often exaggerated and was not as reckless as the sacking of York. For one thing, civilians were not directly targeted and, initially, the British had approached the city hoping to secure a truce but were fired upon, triggering frustration and anger among the troops, which ultimately led to the sacking of government buildings.


Newspaper Row, Washington, D.C., 1874.

Washington remained a small city of a few thousand permanent residents until the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861. The significant expansion of the federal government to administer the war and its legacies—such as veterans' pensions—led to notable growth in the city's population.

In July 1864, Confederate forces under Jubal Anderson Early made a brief raid into Washington, culminating in the Battle of Fort Stevens. The Confederates were repulsed and Early eventually returned to the Shenandoah Valley. The site, now called Battleground National Cemetery is located near present day Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Northwest Washington. The battle was the only battle where a U.S. President, Lincoln, was present and under enemy fire while in office 1.

In the early 1870s, Washington was given a territorial government, but Governor Alexander Shepherd's reputation for extravagance resulted in Congress abolishing his office in favor of direct rule. Congressional governance of the District would continue for a century.

The Washington Monument opened in 1888. Plans were laid to further develop the monumental aspects of the city, with work contributed by such noted figures as Frederick Law Olmsted and Daniel Burnham. However, development of the Lincoln Memorial and other structures on the National Mall did not begin until the early 20th century.

The District's population peaked in 1950, when the census for that year recorded a record population of 802,178 people. At the time, the city was the ninth-largest in the country, ahead of Boston and behind Saint Louis. The population declined in the following decades, mirroring the suburban out-migration of many of the nation's older urban centers following World War II.

The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on March 29, 1961, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to vote for president and have their votes count in the Electoral College.

The first 4.6 miles (7.4 km) of the Washington Metro subway system opened on March 27, 1976.

Walter Washington became the first elected mayor of the District in 1974. Marion Barry became mayor in 1978, but he was arrested for drug use in an FBI sting operation on January 18, 1990 and would serve a six-month jail term. His successor, Sharon Pratt Kelly, became the first black woman to lead a city of that size and importance in the U.S. But Barry defeated her in the 1994 primary and was once again elected mayor for his fourth term, during which time the city nearly became insolvent and was forced to give up some home rule to a congressionally-appointed financial control board. In 1998, Anthony Williams was elected the city's mayor and led the city into a fiscal recovery, which made him a popular figure. Williams was reelected in 2002.

On September 29, 2004, Major League Baseball officially relocated the Montreal Expos to Washington for the 2005 season, now named the Washington Nationals, despite opposition from Orioles owner Peter Angelos. A very public back-and-forth between the city council and MLB threatened to scuttle the agreement until December 21, when a plan for a new stadium in Southeast D.C. was finalized. The Nationals will play at R.F.K. Stadium until the new stadium is ready on the waterfront in 2008.