Day Nineteen

We will depart from Pine Plains for Washington tomorrow. Actually, the geographic name Washington has long resounded in our ears. You probably don't know, however, that there have been several place names after "Washington": Washington State, Washington County and Washington DC.

Washington State, or Evergreen State, is a state in the northwestern part of the USA along the Pacific coast, bordering upon Canada on the north. Its capital city is Olympia.

You can find Washington County in many states which were nominated in memory of George Washington, first president of America. In the State of New York, Washington County was founded as Charlotte County in 1772 and later named after first president in 1784.

Washington DC, or District of Columbia, is the capital of the United States. It is located between Virginia and Maryland on the Potomac River, and is generally referred as Washington by the media.

Washington is the political center of the USA. The White House, Capitol, Supreme Court and most of the government departments are located there.

The US Capitol in Washington is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world. It has housed the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives for almost two centuries. Begun in 1793, the Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored. In addition to its active use by Congress, the Capitol is a museum of American art and history. Each year, it is visited by an estimated 3-5 million people from around the world.

For two hundred years, the White House has stood as a symbol of the Presidency, the United States government, and the American people. Its history, and the history of the nation's capital, began when President George Washington signed an Act of Congress in December of 1790 declaring that the federal government would reside in a district "not exceeding ten miles square... on the river Potomac." President Washington, together with city planner Pierre L'Enfant, chose the site for the new residence, which is now 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Although President Washington oversaw the construction of the house, he never lived in it. It was not until 1800, when the White House was nearly completed, that President John Adams and his wife moved in. Since that time, each President has made his own changes and additions. The White House is, after all, the President's private home. It is also the only private residence of a head of state that is open to the public, free of charge.

There are many memorial buildings in Washington. The Washington Monument, not far from the Capitol Building, is the most prominent, as well as one of the older attractions in Washington. It was built in honor of George Washington, who led the country to independence, and then became its first President. The 169-meter-tall Monument, shaped like an Egyptian obelisk, is all made from white marble. If you ascend to its top by elevator, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the whole city. It was finished on December 6, 1884.

Lincoln Memorial was constructed in memory of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. On the north wall was inscribed his second inaugural address and on the south wall the Gettysburg address. Above the statue the words: "In this Temple, as in the hearts of the people, for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."

Thomas Jefferson Memorial, built to commemorate the nation's third president Thomas Jefferson, is one of the cities' most picturesque landmarks. At the center of this simple circular classical white marble monument, a towering 19-foot bronze portrait statue stands on a 6-foot pedestal. Panels are inscribed with excerpts of Jefferson's writing, including one that best sums up the man: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Being one of the cultural centers of the USA, Washington has 9 universities as Georgetown University, George Washington University. The Library of Congress, established in 1800, is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

Washington National Opera, The National Symphony Orchestra, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, etc. are all renowned American cultural institutions. There are also many famous museums in Washington, such as National Museum of American Art, American Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum.

It will take us 6 hours to drive to Washington DC from New York State where Pine Plains was located, passing through 4 states: New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland.