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Washington DC Group Travel Guide  
by Jeff

Washington D.C. is an amazing reflection of the nation it represents. As the capital city of a country which is the biggest melting pot in the world, it truly does offer visitors a glimpse of American culture and subcultures at their finest.

Leaders from all over the world convene in this city to discuss business and politics, as well as to socialize. As a result, you can find activities, restaurants, and attractions that not only provide insight and education to those who visit, but also offer a cultural experience unlike any other. Discover a variety of dining options that satisfies tastes across all palates. Where else can you sample Ethiopian cuisine, catch a Washington Nationals baseball game, and walk along the Potomac while the cherry blossoms are in bloom, all in one afternoon?

A major attraction of Washington D.C. is the historical significance of the many buildings, museums, and memorials. Tour the famous Fords Theater where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Browse exhibits about the Depression era and World War II, as well as view countless American artifacts in the Library of Congress. Experience the view from the Washington Monument and see the Lincoln Memorial in the reflecting pool along the National Mall. Since taxpayer money funds many public attractions, many sites around the capital are free of charge, which helps make planning activities in Washington D.C. affordable. Experience first-hand a city that is full of rich history and a bustling political machine, yet boasts some of the best dining and nightclubs anywhere.Washington, D.C. is truly a city where you can witness the government at work and the world at play.

A Brief History

Washington, DC was originally established by the Constitution of the United States in 1789. George Washington, the nations first president and figure in which the city was named after, chose the land where the city would originate. The area adjoining the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers was chosen because it was already a bustling port for tobacco and wheat shippers. More importantly, it was an area that was centrally located between the North and the South.

The city was first designed by a man named Pierre-Charles L Enfant in 1791. He was a French architect who was known for his engineering and city-planning skills. Within his first year of surveying, L Enfant had some creative differences with some of the government's officials (mainly then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson) about how the city should look. Washington eventually dismissed L Enfant and handed the duties over to Andrew Ellicott, who basically used L Enfants original plan to build Washington, D.C. and it was officially founded in 1800.

The city grew slowly and was even burned by the British in the War of 1812. After the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, the city began to grow more rapidly. New settlers began migrating to the city and by 1901 the McMillan Plan, a commission appointed by Congress on the citys centennial to make D.C. more aesthetically appealing, established new height limits for city buildings and allowed for the creation of new federal buildings and monuments in the neoclassical design that is present today. The citys growth then exploded even during the Great Depression and World Wars I and II.

After the desegregation of public schools in the 1950s, many white families began moving to the suburbs, and by 1960, Washington, D.C. became the first city in the country with a predominantly black population. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, many middle-class black families began to move to the outskirts, as well. Most of the inner-city residents left were poor and Washington became known as the 'murder capital of the country by the 1980s.

Top Attractions:

Holocaust Memorial Museum

This solemn memorial serves as a humbling reminder to all of a dark period of world history. There is no entry fee, but timed-entry tickets are required. See first-hand what it was like for millions of Jews under the control of Hitler in this moving, interactive museum.

Arlington National Cemetery

View the burial places of more than 285,000 famous politicians and American soldiers from every U.S. war, including the everlasting flame at the site of John F. Kennedys grave. You can also witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Cost is free.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Simple, yet profound, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands in the Constitution Gardens adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial. The monument is a wall made of polished black granite with the inscriptions of the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who died in the Vietnam War. You can view this memorial from 8 am until midnight everyday.

Lincoln Memorial

At the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is one of the best (and most famous) views of Washington, D.C. View Lincolns Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address on the walls next to a giant sculpture of the seated Great Emancipator. The memorial was also the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.s I Have a Dream speech. A small museum about the monument and a gift shop is located below the memorial and is open from 8 am until midnight daily.

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