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Washington, D.C.

Aerial view of the National Mall, Washington, D.C.Washington, D.C., the capital city of the United States, is located between Virginia and Maryland on the American eastern seaboard. “D.C.” stands for the District of Columbia (or just "District"), a small area of land—not part of any state—in which the city is situated. Washington is home to the president (the White House), the Supreme Court and the Capitol Building. These are the three branches of the federal government of the United States. The creation of a capital (federal) district was approved by the US government in 1790. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district. The city of Washington was founded in 1791. Today, the Washington metropolitan area, which extends beyond the borders of D.C. into Maryland and Virginia, has a population of more than 6 million people.



Portrait of George Washington in the White House

Name

Washington is named after President George Washington. William de Hertburne, an ancestor of George Washington, took on the tenancy of the Wessyngtonlands, a manor to the west of today’s city of Sunderland, England, from the Bishop of Durham in the 12th century. He then changed his name to William de Wessyngton, which later became Washington. Wessyngton may come from the Anglo-Saxon word ”Hwaesingatun", meaning “estates of Hwaesa’s descendants”. Hwaesa (or Wassa) is an Old English name meaning "wheat sheaf”.
Another suggested origin of “Washington” is the Old English word “Wasindone”, meaning “people of the hill by the stream”.

During 1791–92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, among them African American astronomer Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the borders of the federal district where the new capital of Washington would be built. They placed boundary stones at every mile point. Many of the stones are still standing today.

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