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Since 1790, Washington DC, which was initially inhabited by Native Americans, but was first explored by Europeans in 1608 when Captain John Smith set foot on the land. In the early years of European settlement, land ownership changed hand frequently, and the Native people grew increasingly more upset by the practices of the settlers. In 1697, the first fort in the District of Columbia was built, and a few years later, some of the Native Americans relocated to a new home only a few miles away.
Although the Nation's capital was first located in Philadelphia, uprisings within the population caused a need for it to be removed from within an actual state in 1787. It was thought that to protect the area and those residing in it, the nation's government should be run from a separate location, used only for the purpose of serving as the capital. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson agreed on the location near the Potomac River, and what is today known as Washington DC began to take shape.
Signed on July 6, 1790, the Residence Act selected the exact location for the governmental area, which was later refined by George Washington, who wanted to include the town of Alexandria in the boundaries, which could not exceed 10 square miles by decree of the Act. Those that owned land within the zoned area were compensated for their property, and in early 1791, a man (Pierre Charles L'Enfant) was hired to design the new capital's layout.
With a revision by the Ellicott brothers, the final plans for the layout were completed, and construction was slated to begin. By 1815, the first canal was open to the city, and another soon followed. In 1812, the British invaded the city and burned down much of the progress that had been made. Buildings that were severely damaged included the Capitol Building, Presidential Mansion, and the Navy Yard. Progress continued after this war ended, and by 1835, the B&O Rail Line began operating to Washington, increasing visitor traffic to the city by the 1850's.
In 1862, eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, slavery in Washington DC was abolished, making the city a popular destination for many freed slaves. The city was protected by the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, and served as a treatment center for more than 20,000 injusted Union Soldiers throughout the battles. The city's growth continued after the Civil War ended, requiring many different laws to be passed so that the city would remain clean and habitable. Motorized streetcars began serving people in 1888, and this caused even more people to flock to the area.
Today, the city generates more than $5.5 billion in tourist revenue, and is home to many major corporations like Nextel, Sprint, Amtrak, and AOL Time Warner. The area's growth continued steadily throughout the 1900's, following closely the rest of the nation, and helped to shape Washington DC into the modernized machine that it is today. Named after George Washington and Christopher Columbus, this area will always be a reminder of the strength and determination of the American people, as well as an example of a governmental system that was built by the people that it serves.