July 16, 1790: Washington D.C. becomes the nation’s capital
Can you imagine America without Washington D.C. as its capital? Surprisingly, Washington D.C. has not been the only capital that this country has ever had. However, it has been the centerpiece of U.S. politics for almost 230 years. Check out what happened on the day that Washington D.C. became the nation’s capital.
A new capital
It was July 16, 1790, when Congress agreed that Washington D.C. would be the perfect spot for the capital of the United States. Crazily enough, the government had already established a temporary capital the previous year in New York City. Things changed when President George Washington was sworn in at Federal Hall in New York. It was Washington’s duty to find a lasting spot for the nation’s capital. That’s when the president declared that the capital should be placed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a decade before it would be relocated to the Potomac River area.
This is crazy: Washington decided that the marshy, hot, and grimy region located in the middle of Maryland and Virginia would be a great place for the capital of the United States. Named after Washington himself, Washington D.C. was originally called the “District of Columbia.” Since the capital was strategically placed near the Potomac River, Washington believed that the burgeoning city had the potential to become an economic powerhouse.
The White House
In 1791, Washington commissioned French engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant to create an architectural plan for Washington, D.C. Two years later, the first keystone was laid down in the foundation of the White House. Ironically, America’s first president never actually resided in the mansion himself. This was because the White House wasn’t move-in ready until the turn of the century. In 1800, John and Abigail Adams became the White House’s first tenants.