Washington, D.C., architecture is some of the most famous and renowned across the entire country. This thriving metropolis is home to some of the most well-known landmarks in the United States - from the White House to the Capitol Building. Architecture has a long history in the District of Columbia and dates back to the time of the Framers. In fact, the nation’s first president, George Washington, hosted a contest to pick the architect who would design the White House. This interesting aspect of Washington, D.C., history showcases the importance of the look of buildings here. Washington wanted the White House to be the distinct opposite of the immense scale of the places found in Europe.
Washington, D.C., architecture history was inspired by many influences, including Greek and Roman architecture. The U.S. Capitol building is set in the neoclassical style and was inspired by the work of Greeks and Romans. Although architecture in the nation’s capital takes many of its cues from history, this place hasn’t stood still given the addition of new monuments, including the one devoted to 9/11.
There are many famous architectural treasures to explore in Washington, D.C., such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Wall, the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument. Yet one spot that is sometimes bypassed is the Library of Congress, which is in the style of the Italian Renaissance. One spot to be sure to visit is the main reading room. Here, there’s a 160-foot ceiling with 8 massive column headed upward. Another impressive sight is the Great Hall with its arches, statues, murals, stained glass and much more.
If you are interested in exploring colonial architecture, consider a visit to the historic village of Georgetown. This spot is home to the oldest building in Washington, D.C., and you’ll see much charm and ambiance dating back to the colonial period here in the way of architecture.
The buildings in downtown Washington, D.C., are not as tall as many visitors imagine they might be in such a major metropolis. In fact, there’s an old urban legend claiming that there was a law stating no building could surpass the Washington Monument. What really happened is that there was a cap placed on heights based on the Cario Hotel, which is 14 stories high and built in 1894. The first law based on heights was focused on the height of the Capitol, which is 288 feet. Changes have occurred over the years to allow for church spires and other elements, but most of the parking garages are under the ground here as a result of the height caps.