Washington DC is packed with things to see and do, making it the perfect city to visit, both for Americans who haven’t been to their nation’s capital city in a while and for visitors eager to learn more about the history one of the world’s most influential countries. We have an extensive selection of Washington DC tours to help you make the most of your next visit to DC, but we’d like to take a little time to tell you some things you probably don’t know about Washington DC. There’s so much more to Washington DC than you might think; keep reading to find out more!
5) The real color(s) of the Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. It’s a symbol of the city and you’d be hard-pressed to find a seasoned traveler who hasn’t either visited it or added it to their bucket list. It was erected in 1884 and it was the tallest structure in the world at the time of construction — a title it retained from 1884 to 1889, when the Eifel Tower took the top spot! However, one thing you probably didn’t know is that the Washington Monument is two different colors: varying between two different sand colors. This difference is simply because the project’s budget ran out and they had to change the brinks just under halfway up. You can’t always see the difference, but if you look close enough, it’s there. The best way to see the Washington Monument is on our Best of Washington DC Tour!
4) Washington DC wasn’t officially a city until 1961!
This is just as strange as it sounds… Because the district of Columbia was originally set up to seat as the seat of government for the United States, it was not intended to be a city that people lived in. This meant that it didn’t have city status and that the people who lived there couldn’t vote. This was obviously not appealing to the government of a country who had championed freedom and democracy so it was changed in 1961. Today, over 700 million people live in Washington DC, making it the 20th largest city in the US.
3) Washington likes Wine!
Despite being the third smallest state in the entirety of the US, District of Colombia consumes more wine than any of the 49 states with larger populations. Perhaps the stresses involved with politics drive the residents to the bar in the evening… Who knows. Consequently, you’ll find a lot of great wine for sale during your stay in Washington DC.
2) The Capitol Building was designed by a Brit
The Capitol Building is also referred to as the United States Capitol, and it is the seat of the US congress. It is one of the world’s most iconic government buildings, sure to spark recognition from people the world over. However, you probably didn’t know that this iconic American building wasn’t actually designed by an American at all; it was designed by a British architect and doctor called William Thornton. However, Thornton lived in Washington D.C. for many years, became an American citizen, and married Anna Maria Thornton (a prominent D.C. socialite). Given his change in citizenship, you could argue that he was American, but it’s certainly not an easy call to make. However, given the American War for Independence had occurred 9 years before Thornton submitted his designs for the Capitol Building, it’s quite surprising that his blueprints were chosen over other more obviously American candidates!
1) The White House was designed by an Irishman
You’d probably think that having an Englishman as the architect for the Capitol Building would mean that they’d definitely give the design job for the residence and workplace of the POTUS to a born-and-bred-American… But you’d be wrong. They gave that job to an Irish man called James Hoban. America as a nation couldn’t exist without all of the immigrants who have traveled here and made it their home, so it does make a lot of sense to have Mr. Hoban design one of the most important buildings in the US.
We hope you genuinely didn’t know all of the facts about Washington D.C. discussed in this blog. Washington D.C. is a fascinating city and it’s Gray Line DC’s privilege to show visitors around the city! If you have any questions about our Washington DC tours, please feel free to get in touch. Start planning your dream DC vacation with a little help from Gray Line DC!