Washington, the capital of the USA, is situated on the Potomac River in the district of Columbia. The District is named in honor of Columbus, the discoverer of America. The capital owes a great deal to the nation's first president George Washington. It was he, who selected the site for the District and laid the cornerstone of the Capitol building, where Congress meets. The location of the city on the Potomac river was the result of a political compromise between the wishes of the northern and the southern states.
Washington was founded in 1791. The city was built to a preliminary plan. A rectangular network of streets combines with wide avenues which radiate from two main centers. One of them is the Capitol and the other is the White House. Washington is not the largest city in the country, for it cannot be compared in size with the cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit and Los-Angeles. But in the political sense it is the center of the republic. It is the home of government. The US Presidents lives and works here, the Congress and the Supreme Court are all in Washington DC.
Washington industry is not well developed, although some "clean" industries, high-technology and light industry, research establishments have recently been set up in the surrounding areas. Tourism, too, is one of major importance, bringing in millions of visitors to swell the resident population. Many people come to Washington by planes. The planes land on Washington's two airfields - the National and the Friendship Airports. The city's pride is the Union Railroad Station. It's bigger than the Capitol itself. Washington can be reached also by small sea-going ships. Convenient roads connect it with other parts of the country.
Washington is fundamentally a monumental city. The central point of it is Jenkins Hills, commonly called the Hill, or the Capitol Hill. The focus point for sightseeing in Washington is the cluster of impressive buildings and monuments around the broad sweep of grassy parkland in the form of a cross that lies between the Potomac River and the capitol. The imposing Capitol, crowned with its huge dome, stands at the end of the wide grassy Mall. Capitol is the highest building here. The regulation doesn't allow to build houses taller then the Capitol. The Capitol got his name in analogy with the ancient roman cathedral - Capitol.
Behind the Capitol, in the separate buildings, stand the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. On the Northern arm of the cross there's the White House, the residential place of the US President. The cornerstone of Executive Mansion, as it was originally known, dates from October 13, 1792, 300 years after the landing of Columbus. The president's house is the earliest of all government buildings in the DC. White House, completed in 1800 after a contest to find a suitable design, it was burnt down by the British troops in 1814, and then restored and decorated in white paint to hide the smoke marks - hence its name. At the center of the cross rises the elegant Washington monument, a marble obelisk with an observation deck at the top.
Washington is also famous for Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Grant Memorial, New Vietnam Veterans Memorial. On the south side, the unmistakable red building popularly known as "The Castle" houses part of the world-famous Smithonian Institution which administers many of Washington's museums, art Galleries and research institutes, including the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of History and Technology, the National Museum of Natural History, National Collection of Fine Arts housing exhibits that show the development of American art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden that houses a rich collection of 19-th and 20-th century paintings and sculpture.
Across the Potomac River is Arlington National Cemetery, where's many of the nation's honored dead are buried, including John and Robert Kennedy. There are five universities in the city. The national Academy of Science, Georgetown University and George Washington University are among them.