From the annual cherry blossom festival to the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., is the site of hundreds of years of U.S. history. Home to gorgeous neoclassical buildings that house the three branches of government, museums, and artifacts, it is no surprise it is one of the most visited cities in the world. From real estate in Washington, D.C.
, to the monuments to the White House, there is no shortage of historic sites to visit.
When the public library system was established by Congress in 1896, three years later, Andrew Carnegie waited to meet with President Theodore Roosevelt when the president of library trustees approached him to discuss a library building in Washington. Carnegie offered to donate $250,000 to its construction, stipulating that the city had to use his donation to buy books and pay staff in addition to construction. The public library trustees held a design competition, and the winning design called for an elaborate Beaux-Arts structure still standing today. The library opened in 1903 and was the area’s central library for over 70 years. Today, Apple manages the building and leases some space for a store.
Library of Congress
Established in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest cultural institution in the United States and the world’s largest library. The library is the primary research arm of Congress and is the unofficial national library of the U.S. The library houses more than 150 million books, manuscripts, music, photographs, maps, and other items on over 500 miles of bookshelves. There are numerous exhibitions, as well as tours of the main reading room and activities in the Young Readers Center and Programs Lab. Inside, you can look at the breathtaking murals on the domed ceilings, as well as the mosaics and statues on the walls. You can also sign up for a Reader Identification Card to study in the reading rooms.
Established in 1927, the National Arboretum spans 446 acres and aims to raise awareness about the importance of plants, landscape, and ornamental plants. The Arboretum has gardens, exhibits, botanical and conservation research, and a library with 11,000 books on botanical literature. There is public artwork throughout the grounds, and it is home to the East Portico of the Capitol building and a bonsai tree that is nearly four centuries old. While here, you can check out the Gotelli Conifer Collection, which houses conifers from a range of climates, such as Japanese maples. The Arboretum is one of the best places to view the azalea blossoms around the tidal basin.
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
This hidden oasis is hidden behind trees and cattails, where turtles lounge on logs, and beavers build their homes. This beautiful national park is home to rare water lilies and lotuses. It is the last remaining tidal marsh in D.C. Civil War veteran Walter B. Shaw originally purchased the marsh in the 1800s. The park is over 700 acres. The park organizes an outdoor wellness series where you can practice yoga, tai chi, forest bathing, and painting. They also offer an arts residency, creative activities, live music, and events held at the garden throughout the year.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is located on Cedar Hill in Anacostia, where Frederick Douglass lived from 1877 until he died in 1895. The house sits on eight acres of land atop a 50-foot hill. It has been restored to look like it did in 1895 and is furnished with some of his and his family’s belongings. You can explore the grounds, tour the house, and look around the exhibits.
National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History houses more than 1.8 million objects and miles of archival collections on the shelves. The museum preserves and shares its vast collection of American history. The house and numerous items are preserved, such as the authentic Star-Spangled Banner, Abraham Lincoln’s infamous hat, and the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The museum offers numerous exhibitions throughout its two wings, including an exhibit called America on the Move, which immerses visitors in the sights, sounds, and sensations of transportation in the United States from 1870 to the present day.
The National Archives and Records Administration is tasked with preserving public records that shape the nation. There are numerous exhibits throughout the museum, such as the Records of Rights, which shows how generations of Americans aimed to fulfill the promises made in the founding documents, and the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, where you can see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Folger Shakespeare Library
This independent research library has the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s written works and hosts exhibitions on the writer’s personal and professional life, including one of his first books, which is also shown on a touchscreen display. The library opened in 1932 and was built to have a Tudor-style interior and an Elizabethan theater. The library also offers classes on Shakespeare, lectures, and events, such as a virtual concert with Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble.
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art, and its neighboring sculpture garden, are one of the top art museums in the nation. The gallery holds over 150,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, decorative arts, photographs, prints, and drawings. The gallery has numerous exhibits, such as Drawing in Britain from 1700-1900 and Looking Up: Studies for Ceilings, 1550-1800, and is home to work by Edward Hopper, Leonardo da Vinci, and Piet Mondrian. The gallery offers guided tours of its exhibits, as well as lectures, writing and drawing classes, and a virtual studio.
Washington, D.C, is home to much of the nation’s history. It’s all around the area, from the museums to the architecture. You will discover something new about the area and its history everywhere you turn. There’s so much to explore, and whether you are a local or are looking for homes for sale in Washington, D.C., there is always more history to uncover. Reach out to Sarah Minard
today with any questions!