Washington, DC gets 24.6 million visitors a year! With those numbers, you’ve probably been there before or are planning a trip soon. There’s no shortage of things to do in DC, but you won’t want to miss out on some of the lesser-known knowledge and sights.
Wow everyone who goes on your trip with you with these Washington DC facts. You can even implement some of them into your trip planning. Keep reading to discover more.
- Washington DC Isn’t Just Named for the First President
There’s no shortage of historical facts about Washington DC, but let’s start with this one.
George Washington may have chosen the land between Virginia and Maryland to function as the nation’s capital, but its name comes from a variety of sources. The Washington aspect does, yes, refer to George.
The District of Columbia part is named for Christopher Columbus. In fact, during the Revolutionary War, the future US was nicknamed Columbia.
- George Washington Never Lived In Washington, DC
Although Washington laid the cornerstone for the White House and made many of the plans for the nation’s capital, he never got to live there. He died in Mount Vernon, Virginia before the building was ever finished. The first president to live in Washington, DC was John Adams.
- The Crypt Under the US Capitol Is Empty
A crypt was built under the US Capitol Building for the purpose of Washington’s burial, but he ended up preferring to be laid to rest in Mount Vernon, Virginia. Since his death, the crypt has remained empty, and it likely always will.
If you’re looking for things to do in Washington, DC tours of the crypt and the whole Capitol Building are available, or take in a bird’s eye view of the Capitol at this upcoming event.
- Residents Didn’t Have Full Voting Rights Until 1961
If you’re looking for reasons to live in DC, guaranteed voting rights won’t be at the top of the list. It wasn’t until 1961 that DC residents were allowed to vote in presidential elections. Because DC isn’t a state, it has no representatives in Congress, so it couldn’t participate in the electoral college.
Now, DC is permitted to have the same number of electors as the least populated state, which is Wisconsin with three representatives.
- DC Is Home to the World’s Largest Library
The famous Library of Congress is one of the greatest Washington DC amenities and the largest library in the world! There are more than 170 million objects and artifacts within the library.
This is because anything copyrighted must be accessible to anyone with a library card at the Library of Congress. Check out their website for ideas of what to see.
- Washington, DC Is Missing J Street
Many of the streets in Washington, DC are either numbered or lettered in order. However, the alphabet is incomplete. The city is missing a J Street!
During the 18th Century, I and J were used pretty interchangeably (even Thomas Jefferson used to initial things T.I.). So to have both an I Street and a J Street would have been too confusing when giving directions and addresses. All these years later, there is still no J Street in Washington, DC.
- Washington, DC’s Famous Cherry Blossoms Were a Gift
There are 3,000 cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin. Every year, a large and heavily attended festival celebrates their blooming. It makes for a very picturesque DC.
These cherry blossoms are not native to the US! They were a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo in 1912 to the People of the US from the People of Japan. Although not all the original trees are standing, the US continues to plant new ones in the place of those that have died to continue commemorating the friendship between the nations.
The cherry blossom has great meaning to the Japanese people, and the festivities are seen as a celebration across cultures.
- There Is a Typo On the Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in 1922 after eight years of work. It’s a beautiful monument to Lincoln’s ongoing impact on our nation and his preservation of the union of the states. It’s known as both a national landmark and an important piece of art.
Unfortunately, it has one little flaw – a typo. Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, made after the Emancipation proclamation, is chiseled into the marble walls.
It’s supposed to include the phrase, “high hope for the future”. However, the engraver made a mistake and placed an “e” where he meant to put an “f”. Now the Lincoln Memorial forever holds the phrase “High Hopes for the Euture”.
- Four Non-Presidents Are Memorialized on the Mall
Most of the monuments to specific people along the National Mall are for US presidents. But four people in US history have been impactful enough to earn a spot for a monument without ever serving a presidency.
They are Martin Luther King, Jr., the founding father George Mason (of Mason and Dixon fame), and warship engineer John Ericcson, and Revolutionary War caption John Paul Jones. Be sure to check out those unique monuments on your next trip to DC.
- A Whisper Is Heard Across the Rotunda
In the US Capitol Rotunda, there’s a fun science experiment to make. The shape of the room makes the acoustics such that if you stand in one spot, you can hear a whisper across the room.
All you need to do is go stand by the plaque where John Adam’s desk once stood. Then have a friend go to another area of the rotunda and whisper a sentence. You’ll be able to hear it, clear as day!
Washington DC Facts Too Good Not to Share
Next time you take a trip to DC, be sure to let your family and friends know all about your new Washington DC facts. Point of the very special monuments along the mall, draw their attention to the misprint on the Lincoln Memorial and play whispering games in the rotunda. There’s no shortage of ways to have fun and learn on your Washington DC trip.
Want more destination facts? Check out our travel section for more!