Washington D.C.

3.342494714547 (946)
Posted by sonny 02/28/2009 @ 03:01

Tags : washington d.c., states, us

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (IATA: DCA, ICAO: KDCA, FAA LID: DCA) is a public airport located three miles (5 km) south of the central business district of Washington, D.C., in Arlington County, Virginia, United States. It is the nearest commercial airport to Washington, D.C. Originally named Washington National Airport, the facility was renamed to honor former President Ronald Reagan in 1998. The airport is commonly known as "National", "Washington National", "Reagan", and "Reagan National"; "DCA" is used as the main airport code.

The airport is a focus city for US Airways, also the airport's largest carrier. The US Airways Shuttle offers near-hourly air shuttle service to LaGuardia Airport in New York City and Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. Delta Air Lines' Delta Shuttle offers near-hourly air shuttle service to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. With a handful of exceptions, flights are restricted to destinations within 1,250 miles (2,012 km), in an effort to control aviation noise and to drive air traffic to the larger but more distant Washington Dulles International Airport. In 2006, the airport served approximately 18.5 million passengers. Because the airport only provides U.S. immigration and customs facilities for corporate jet traffic, the only international flights allowed to land at DCA are those from airports with U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance, which include Nassau, Bahamas; Bermuda; and most major airports in Canada.

Washington National Airport was built by the federal government in 1940–41 by John McShain on mudflats alongside the Potomac River at Gravelly Point, immediately south of Washington, D.C, and roughly 4 miles from the Capitol.

Captain John Alexander built a mansion called "Abingdon" on the site in 1746. A descendent, Philip Alexander, donated most of the land on which the City of Alexandria was built, and it was so named in his honor. Abingdon Mansion was purchased in 1778 by John Parke Custis and was the birthplace of Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis, step-granddaughter of President George Washington. Abingdon was destroyed by fire in 1930. In 1998, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority preserved the site and housed artifacts found there in the Exhibit Hall, located in Terminal A.

Airport facilities in Washington, D.C. were seriously inadequate throughout the early 20th century. Hoover Field, located near the present site of the Pentagon, was the first major terminal to be developed in the Capital area, opening its doors in 1926. The facility's single runway was intersected by a local street; guards had to stop automobile traffic during takeoffs and landings.

The following year, Washington Airport, another privately operated field, began service next door. In 1930, the economics of the Great Depression caused the two terminals to merge to form Washington-Hoover Airport. Bordered on the east by US-1, with its accompanying high-tension electrical wires, and obstructed by a high smokestack on one approach and a dump nearby, the field was less than adequate.

National Airport opened its doors on June 16, 1941. Though located on the Virginia side of the Potomac, much of the site had originally been underwater, in District of Columbia territory. A 1945 law established the airport as legally within Virginia but under the jurisdiction of Congress.

Rapid growth in air traffic led to the construction of runway extensions in 1950 and 1955. The runway layout — limited due to the location and orientation of the airport — has otherwise changed little, except for the 1956 closure of a fourth, east-west runway now used for taxiing and aircraft parking. The terminal building was supplemented by the completion of the North Terminal in 1958; the two were connected in 1961.

Despite the expansions, several efforts have been made to restrict the growth of the airport. The advent of jet aircraft as well as traffic growth led Congress to pass the Washington Airport Act of 1950, which resulted in the opening of Dulles Airport in 1962. Concerns about aviation noise led to the imposition of noise restrictions even before jet service began in 1966. To reduce congestion and drive traffic to alternative airports, the Federal Aviation Administration imposed landing slot and perimeter restrictions on National and four other high-density airports in 1969.

Service to the airport's dedicated Metro station began in 1977. The station was originally separate from the main terminal, but is today connected to terminals B and C via pedestrian bridges.

On the afternoon of January 13, 1982, following a period of exceptionally cold weather and a morning of blizzard conditions, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed after waiting forty-nine minutes on a taxiway and taking off with ice and snow on the wings. The Boeing 737 aircraft failed to gain altitude. Less than a mile from the end of the runway, the airplane struck the 14th Street Bridge complex, shearing the tops off vehicles stuck in traffic before plunging through the one-inch thick ice covering the Potomac River. Rescue responses were greatly hampered by the weather and traffic. Due to heroic action on the part of motorists, a United States Park Service police helicopter crew, and one of the plane's passengers who later perished, five occupants of the downed plane survived. The other 74 people who had been aboard died, as well as four occupants of vehicles on the bridge. President Reagan cited motorist Lenny Skutnik in his State of the Union Address later that year.

The federal government relinquished control of Dulles and National Airports in 1987, when President Reagan signed a bill creating the independent Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. However, Congress has continued to intervene in the management of the airports. On February 6, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed legislation changing the airport's name from Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, to honor the former president on his 87th birthday. The legislation, passed by a Republican-controlled Congress, was drafted against the wishes of MWAA officials and business and political leaders in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Opposition also came from Congressional Democrats and air traffic controllers, who viewed Reagan negatively after he fired en masse more than 11,000 ATCs who participated in the 1981 air traffic controllers strike. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority initially resisted renaming the Metro station serving the airport, citing a policy (adopted in 1987) that states that groups seeking to rename a station were required to pay the cost of replacing signage. Also, the federal legislation renaming the airport specifically provided that no expenditures were required by that law. Arlington County, which would have been responsible for funding the name change, declined. Congress responded by threatening the system with budget cuts. Metro ultimately renamed the station at its own expense.

With the addition of more flights and limited space in the aging main terminal, the airport began an extensive renovation and expansion in the 1990s. Hangar 11 on the northern end of the airport was converted into an interim terminal for US Airways and Delta Air Lines in 1989, freeing up several gates in the main terminal until the new terminal complex became operational. On July 27, 1997, the new terminal complex, consisting of terminals B and C and two parking garages, opened. Argentine architect César Pelli designed the new terminals of the airport. The interim terminal closed immediately after the opening and was converted back into a hangar. One pier of the main terminal (now Terminal A), which mainly housed American Airlines, was demolished; the other pier remains operational today as gates 1–9.

Before 1999, Runway 1/19 and 4/22 were originally designated 18/36 and 3/21.

Because of National Airport's proximity to federal institutions such as the White House, U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument, and the Pentagon, enhanced security measures have been in place since the airport began operations.

Prior to September 11, 2001, the most notable security measure was the southbound approach into the airport. Most of central Washington D.C. is prohibited airspace up to 18,000 feet. Due to this restriction, pilots approaching from the north follow the path of the Potomac River and make a steep turn shortly before landing on the southbound runway. This approach is known as the River Visual and is commonly cited as one of the most challenging approaches in the world. Similarly, flights taking off to the north are required to climb quickly and take a steep left turn, to avoid contact with the Washington Monument or flight over the White House.

On October 18, 2005, DCA was reopened to general aviation on a limited basis (48 operations per day) and under serious restrictions: passenger and crew manifests must be submitted to the Transportation Security Administration 24 hours in advance, and all planes must pass through one of 12 "gateway airports" where reinspections of aircraft, passengers, and baggage take place. An armed security officer must be onboard before departing a gateway airport.

The River Visual approach was instituted due to safety and noise abatement concerns. The approach (which is for runway 19), which follows the course of the Potomac River, is only possible with a ceiling of at least 3,500 feet and visibility of 3 miles or more. There are lights on the Key Bridge, Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Arlington Memorial Bridge, and the George Mason Memorial Bridge to aid pilots following the river. Aircraft using the approach can be observed from various parks on the river's west bank. Passengers seated on the left side of an airplane that is landing can easily see the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the National Mall, and the White House. Passengers seated on the right side can see CIA headquarters, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, and the United States Air Force Memorial.

When visibility and ceiling are below the minimums for the River Visual and southerly winds restrict northbound runway operations, aircraft fly an offset localizer or GPS approach to Runway 19, again involving a final turn moments before touchdown, or they fly a VOR or GPS approach to either of the shorter Runways 15 and 22, which are marginally usable by air carrier jets.

In 1999, Senator John McCain of Arizona introduced legislation to remove the 1250-mile perimeter restriction, infuriating some local residents concerned about noise and traffic from increased service by larger, long-haul aircraft. McCain argued that the move would improve competition, while critics charged he was supporting the interests of Phoenix, Arizona-based America West Airlines (AWA). In the end the restriction was not lifted, but the FAA was permitted to add additional exemptions, which went not to AWA but to competitor Alaska Airlines. America West (now US Airways) would later gain additional exemptions for non-stop service to Phoenix in 2004.

US Airways is the largest carrier at the airport, accounting for roughly 35% of the airport's passenger traffic in March 2006. American Airlines, the second-largest, accounts for roughly 14% of traffic.

Terminal A opened in 1941 and was expanded in 1955 to accommodate more passengers and airlines. This terminal is currently undergoing renovation to restore its original architecture, and is expected to be completed in a couple of years.

Terminals B and C opened in 1997, replacing a collection of airline-specific terminals built during the 1960s. The new terminals were designed by architect Cesar Pelli and house 35 gates. There is no Gate 13, possibly due to superstition.

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Washington, D.C.

Location of Washington, D.C. in the United States and in relation to the states of Maryland and Virginia.

Washington, D.C. (pronounced /ˈwɒʃɪŋtən ˌdiːˈsiː/), formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the Territory of Columbia until an act of Congress in 1871 effectively merged the City and the Territory into a single entity called the District of Columbia. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. The city is located on the north bank of the Potomac River and is bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the other sides. The District has a resident population of 591,833; however, because of commuters from the surrounding suburbs, its population rises to over one million during the workweek. The Washington Metropolitan Area, of which the District is a part, has a population of 5.3 million, the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the country.

Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The centers of all three branches of the federal government of the United States are located in the District, as are many of the nation's monuments and museums. Washington, D.C., hosts 174 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The headquarters of other institutions such as trade unions, lobbying groups, and professional associations are also located in the District.

The United States Congress has supreme authority over Washington, D.C.; residents of the city therefore have less self-governance than residents of the states. The District has a non-voting at-large Congressional delegate, but no senators. D.C. residents could not vote in presidential elections until the ratification of the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1961.

An Algonquian people known as the Nacotchtank inhabited the area around the Anacostia River where Washington now lies when the first Europeans arrived in the 17th century; however, Native American people had largely relocated from the area by the early 18th century. Georgetown was chartered by the Province of Maryland on the north bank of the Potomac River in 1751. The town would be included within the new federal territory established nearly 40 years later. The City of Alexandria, Virginia, founded in 1749, was also originally included within the District.

James Madison expounded the need for a federal district on January 23, 1788, in his "Federalist No. 43", arguing that the national capital needed to be distinct from the states in order to provide for its own maintenance and safety. An attack on the Congress at Philadelphia by a mob of angry soldiers, known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, had emphasized the need for the government to see to its own security. Therefore, the authority to establish a federal capital was provided in Article One, Section Eight, of the United States Constitution, which permits a "District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States". The Constitution does not, however, specify a location for the new capital. In what later became known as the Compromise of 1790, Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson came to an agreement that the federal government would assume war debt carried by the states, on the condition that the new national capital would be located in the South.

On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the initial shape of the federal district was a square, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 km2). During 1791–92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the border of the District with both Maryland and Virginia, placing boundary stones at every mile point; many of the stones are still standing. A new "federal city" was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of the established settlement at Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the federal city was named in honor of George Washington, and the district was named the Territory of Columbia, Columbia being a poetic name for the United States in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800.

The Organic Act of 1801 officially organized the District of Columbia and placed the entire federal territory, including the cities of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria, under the exclusive control of Congress. Further, the unincorporated territory within the District was organized into two counties: the County of Washington to the east of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria to the west. Following this Act, citizens located in the District were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, thus ending their representation in Congress.

On August 24–25, 1814, in a raid known as the Burning of Washington, British forces invaded the capital during the War of 1812, following the sacking and burning of York (modern-day Toronto). The Capitol, Treasury, and White House were burned and gutted during the attack. Most government buildings were quickly repaired, but the Capitol, which was at the time largely under construction, would not be completed until 1868.

Since 1800, the District's residents have protested their lack of voting representation in Congress. To correct this, various proposals have been offered to return the land ceded to form the District back to Maryland and Virginia. This process is known as retrocession. However, such efforts failed to earn enough support until the 1830s when the District's southern county of Alexandria went into economic decline due to neglect by Congress. Alexandria was also a major market in the American slave trade, and rumors circulated that abolitionists in Congress were attempting to end slavery in the District; such an action would have further depressed Alexandria's economy. Unhappy with Congressional authority over Alexandria, in 1840 the people began to petition for the retrocession of the District's southern territory back to Virginia. The state legislature complied in February 1846, partly because the return of Alexandria provided two additional pro-slavery delegates to the Virginia General Assembly. On July 9, 1846, Congress agreed to return all the District's territory south of the Potomac River back to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Confirming the fears of pro-slavery Alexandrians, the Compromise of 1850 outlawed the slave trade in the District, though not slavery itself. By 1860, approximately 80% of the city's African American residents were free blacks. The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 led to notable growth in the District's population due to the expansion of the federal government and a large influx of freed slaves. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which ended slavery in the District of Columbia and freed about 3,100 enslaved persons, nine months prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. By 1870, the District's population had grown to nearly 132,000. Despite the city's growth, Washington still had dirt roads and lacked basic sanitation; the situation was so bad that some members of Congress proposed moving the capital elsewhere.

With the Organic Act of 1871, Congress created a new government for the entire federal territory. This Act effectively combined the City of Washington, Georgetown, and Washington County into a single municipality officially named the District of Columbia. Even though the City of Washington legally ceased to exist after 1871, the name continued in use and the whole city became commonly known as Washington, D.C. In the same Organic Act, Congress also appointed a Board of Public Works charged with modernizing the city. In 1873, President Grant appointed the board's most influential member, Alexander Shepherd, to the new post of governor. That year, Shepherd spent $20 million on public works ($357 million in 2007), which modernized Washington but also bankrupted the city. In 1874, Congress abolished Shepherd's office in favor of direct rule. Additional projects to renovate the city would not be executed until the McMillan Plan in 1901.

The District's population remained relatively stable until the Great Depression in the 1930s when President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation expanded the bureaucracy in Washington. World War II further increased government activity, adding to the number of federal employees in the capital; by 1950, the District's population had reached a peak of 802,178 residents. The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1961, granting the District three votes in the Electoral College.

After the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, riots broke out in the District, primarily in the U Street, 14th Street, 7th Street, and H Street corridors, centers of black residential and commercial areas. The riots raged for three days until over 13,000 federal and national guard troops managed to quell the violence. Many stores and other buildings were burned; rebuilding was not complete until the late 1990s.

In 1973, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, providing for an elected mayor and city council for the District. In 1975, Walter Washington became the first elected and first black mayor of the District. However, during the later 1980s and 1990s, city administrations were criticized for mismanagement and waste. In 1995, Congress created the District of Columbia Financial Control Board to oversee all municipal spending and rehabilitate the city government. The District regained control over its finances in September 2001 and the oversight board's operations were suspended.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 and deliberately crashed the plane into the Pentagon in nearby Arlington, Virginia. United Airlines Flight 93, believed to be destined for Washington, D.C., crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers tried to recover control of the plane from hijackers.

The District has a total area of 68.3 square miles (177 km2), of which 61.4 square miles (159 km2) is land and 6.9 square miles (18 km2) (10.16%) is water. The District is no longer 100 square miles (260 km2) due to the retrocession of the southern portion of the District back to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1846. The District's current area consists only of territory ceded by the state of Maryland. Washington is therefore surrounded by the states of Maryland to the southeast, northeast, and northwest and Virginia to the southwest. The District has three major natural flowing streams: the Potomac River and its tributaries the Anacostia River and Rock Creek. Tiber Creek, a watercourse that once passed through the National Mall, was fully enclosed underground during the 1870s.

Contrary to the urban legend, Washington was not built on reclaimed swampland. While wetlands did cover areas along the two rivers and other natural streams, the majority of the District's territory consisted of farmland and tree-covered hills. The highest natural point in the District of Columbia is Point Reno, located in Fort Reno Park in the Tenleytown neighborhood, at 409 feet (125 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level at the Potomac River. The geographic center of Washington is located near the intersection of 4th and L streets NW.

Approximately 19.4% of Washington, D.C. is parkland, which ties New York City for largest percentage of parkland among high-density U.S. cities. The U.S. National Park Service manages most of the natural habitat in Washington, D.C., including Rock Creek Park, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, the National Mall, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and Anacostia Park. The only significant area of natural habitat not managed by the National Park Service is the U.S. National Arboretum, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Great Falls of the Potomac River are located upstream (i.e., northwest) of Washington. During the 19th century, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which starts in Georgetown, was used to allow barge traffic to bypass the falls.

Washington has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfa), typical of Mid-Atlantic U.S. areas removed from bodies of water, with four distinct seasons. The District is located in plant hardiness zone 8a near downtown, and zone 7b elsewhere in the city, indicating a temperate climate. Spring and fall are mild, with low humidity, while winter brings sustained cool temperatures and annual snowfall averaging 16.6 inches (420 mm). Average winter lows tend to be around 30 °F (-1 °C) from mid-December to mid-February. Blizzards affect Washington on average once every four to six years. The most violent storms are called "nor'easters", which typically feature high winds, heavy rains, and occasional snow. These storms often affect large sections of the U.S. East Coast.

Summers tend to be hot and humid, with daily high temperatures in July and August averaging in the high 80s °F (about 30 °C). The combination of heat and humidity in the summer brings very frequent thunderstorms, some of which occasionally produce tornadoes in the area. While hurricanes (or their remnants) occasionally track through the area in late summer and early fall, they have often weakened by the time they reach Washington, partly due to the city's inland location. Flooding of the Potomac River, however, caused by a combination of high tide, storm surge, and runoff, has been known to cause extensive property damage in Georgetown.

The highest recorded temperature was 106 °F (41 °C) on July 20, 1930, and August 6, 1918, while the lowest recorded temperature was −15 °F (−26.1 °C) on February 11, 1899, during the Great Blizzard of 1899. Over the year, the city averages 36.7 days hotter than 90 °F (32 °C) and 64.4 nights below freezing.

Washington, D.C., is a planned city. The design for the City of Washington was largely the work of Pierre (Peter) Charles L’Enfant, a French-born architect, engineer, and city planner who first arrived in the colonies as a military engineer with Major General Lafayette during the American Revolutionary War. In 1791, President Washington commissioned L'Enfant to plan the layout of the new capital city. L'Enfant's plan was modeled in the Baroque style, which incorporated broad avenues radiating out from rectangles and circles, providing for open space and landscaping. In March 1792, President Washington dismissed L'Enfant due to his insistence on micromanaging the city's planning, which had resulted in conflicts with the three commissioners appointed by Washington to supervise the capital's construction. Andrew Ellicott, who had worked with L'Enfant surveying the city, was then commissioned to complete the plans. Though Ellicott made revisions to the original plans, including changes to some street patterns, L'Enfant is still credited with the overall design of the city. The City of Washington was bounded by what is now Florida Avenue to the north, Rock Creek to the west, and the Anacostia River to the east.

By the start of the 20th century, L'Enfant's vision of a capital with open parks and grand national monuments had become marred by slums and randomly placed buildings, including a railroad station on the National Mall. In 1900, Congress formed a joint committee, headed by Senator James McMillan, charged with beautifying Washington's ceremonial core. What became known as the McMillan Plan was finalized in 1901. It included the re-landscaping of the Capitol grounds and the Mall, constructing new Federal buildings and monuments, clearing slums, and establishing a new citywide park system. Architects recruited by the committee kept the city's original layout, and their work is thought to be the grand completion of L'Enfant's intended design.

After the construction of the twelve-story Cairo Apartment Building in 1899, Congress passed the Heights of Buildings Act, which declared that no building could be taller than the Capitol. The Act was amended in 1910 to restrict building height to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet (6.1 m). Today the skyline remains low and sprawling, in keeping with Thomas Jefferson's wishes to make Washington an "American Paris" with "low and convenient" buildings on "light and airy" streets. As a result, the Washington Monument remains the District's tallest structure. However, Washington's height restriction has been assailed as a primary reason why the city has limited affordable housing and traffic problems as a result of urban sprawl. To escape the District's height restriction, taller buildings close to downtown are often constructed across the Potomac River in Rosslyn, Virginia.

The District is divided into four quadrants of unequal area: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southeast (SE), and Southwest (SW). The axes bounding the quadrants radiate from the U.S. Capitol building. All road names include the quadrant abbreviation to indicate their location. In most of the city, the streets are set out in a grid pattern with east–west streets named with letters (e.g., C Street SW) and north–south streets with numbers (e.g., 4th Street NW). The avenues radiating from the traffic circles are primarily named after states; all 50 states are represented, as well as Puerto Rico and the District itself. Some Washington streets are particularly noteworthy, such as Pennsylvania Avenue, which connects the White House with the U.S. Capitol, and K Street, which houses the offices of many lobbying groups. Washington hosts 174 foreign embassies, 57 of which are located on a section of Massachusetts Avenue informally known as Embassy Row.

The architecture of Washington varies greatly. Six of the top 10 buildings in the American Institute of Architects' 2007 ranking of "America's Favorite Architecture" are located in the District of Columbia, including: the White House; the Washington National Cathedral; the Thomas Jefferson Memorial; the United States Capitol; the Lincoln Memorial; and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The neoclassical, Georgian, gothic, and modern architectural styles are all reflected among those six structures and many other prominent edifices in Washington. Notable exceptions include buildings constructed in the French Second Empire style such as the Old Executive Office Building and Library of Congress.

Outside downtown Washington, architectural styles are even more varied. Historic buildings are designed primarily in the Queen Anne, Châteauesque, Richardsonian Romanesque, Georgian revival, Beaux-Arts, and a variety of Victorian styles. Rowhouses are especially prominent in areas developed after the Civil War and typically follow Federalist and late Victorian designs. Since Georgetown was established before the city of Washington, the neighborhood features the District's oldest architecture. Georgetown's Old Stone House was built in 1765, making it the oldest standing building in the city. The majority of current homes in the neighborhood, however, were not built until the 1870s and reflect late Victorian designs of the period. Founded in 1789, Georgetown University is more distinct from the neighborhood and features a mix of Romanesque and Gothic Revival architecture. The Ronald Reagan Building is the largest building in the District with a total area of approximately 3.1 million square feet (288,000 m2).

In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the District's population at 591,833 residents, continuing a trend of population growth in the city since the 2000 Census, which recorded 572,059 residents. During the workweek, however, the number of commuters from the suburbs into the city swells the District's population by an estimated 71.8% in 2005, to a daytime population of over one million people. The Washington Metropolitan Area, which includes the surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia, is the eighth-largest in the United States with more than five million residents. When combined with Baltimore and its suburbs, the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area has a population exceeding eight million residents, the fourth-largest in the country.

In 2007, the population distribution was 55.6% black, 36.3% white, 8.3% Hispanic (of any race), 5% other (including Native Americans, Alaskans, Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders), 3.1% Asian, and 1.6% mixed (two or more races). There were also an estimated 74,000 foreign immigrants living in Washington, D.C. in 2007. Major sources of immigration include El Salvador, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, with some concentration of Salvadorans in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Unique among cities with a high percentage of African Americans, Washington has had a significant black population since the city's creation. This is a result of the manumission of slaves in the Upper South after the American Revolutionary War. The free black population in the region climbed from an estimated 1% before the war to 10% by 1810. In the District, black residents composed about 30% of the population between 1800 and 1940. Washington's black population reached a high of 70% of the city's residents by 1970. Since then, however, the District's African American population has steadily declined due to many leaving the city for the surrounding suburbs. Some older residents have returned South because of family ties and lower housing costs. At the same time, the city's white population has steadily increased, in part due to effects of gentrification in many of Washington's traditionally black neighborhoods. This is evident in a 7.3% decrease in the African American population, and a 17.8% increase in the Caucasian population since 2000. However, some African Americans, particularly college graduates and young professionals, are moving from northern and midwestern states in a New Great Migration. Washington, D.C. is a top destination for such blacks because of increased job opportunities.

The 2000 census revealed that an estimated 33,000 adults in the District of Columbia identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, about 8.1% of the city's adult population. Despite the city's sizable LGBT population and liberal political climate, same-sex marriage is not legal in the District, due in part to opposition in Congress. However, Washington's domestic partnership law does provide same-sex couples legal recognition similar to civil unions offered in other jurisdictions.

A 2007 report found that about one-third of Washington residents are functionally illiterate, compared to a national rate of about one in five. This is attributed in part to immigrants who are not proficient in English. A 2005 study shows that 85.16% of Washington, D.C. residents age five and older speak only English at home and 8.78% speak Spanish. French is the third-most-spoken language at 1.35%. In contrast to the high rate of functional illiteracy, nearly 46% of D.C. residents have at least a four-year college degree. According to data from 2000, more than half of District residents were identified as Christian; 28% of residents are Catholic, 9.1% are American Baptist, 6.8% are Southern Baptist, 1.3% are Eastern or Oriental Orthodox, and 13% are members of other Christian denominations. Residents who practice Islam make up 10.6% of the population, followers of Judaism compose 4.5%, and 26.8% of residents adhere to other faiths or do not practice a religion.

During the violent crime wave of the early 1990s, Washington, D.C. was known as the murder capital of the United States and often rivaled New Orleans in the number of homicides. The number of murders peaked in 1991 at 482, but the level of violence declined drastically in the 1990s. By 2006, the annual murder count in the city had declined to 169. In total, violent crime declined nearly 47% between 1995 and 2007. Property crime, including thefts and robberies, declined by roughly 48% during the same period.

Like most large cities, crime is highest in areas associated with illegal drugs and gangs. The more affluent neighborhoods of Northwest Washington experience low levels of crime, but the incidence of crime increases as one goes further east. Once plagued with violent crime, many D.C. neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights and Logan Circle are becoming safe and vibrant areas due to the effects of gentrification. As a result, crime in the District is being displaced even further east and across the border into Prince George's County, Maryland.

On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the city's 1976 handgun ban violates the Second Amendment right to gun ownership. However, the ruling does not prohibit all forms of gun control; laws requiring firearm registration remain in place, as does the city's assault weapon ban.

Washington has a growing, diversified economy with an increasing percentage of professional and business service jobs. The gross state product of the District in 2007 was $93.8 billion, which would rank it No. 35 compared to the 50 U.S. states. In 2008, the federal government accounted for about 27% of the jobs in Washington, D.C. This is thought to immunize Washington to national economic downturns because the federal government continues operations even during recessions. However, as of January 2007, federal employees in the Washington area comprised only 14% of the total U.S. government workforce. Many organizations such as law firms, independent contractors (both defense and civilian), non-profit organizations, lobbying firms, trade unions, industry trade groups, and professional associations have their headquarters in or near D.C. to be close to the federal government. As of November 2008, the Washington Metropolitan Area had an unemployment rate of 4.4%; the lowest rate among the 49 largest metro areas in the nation. It is also lower than the national average unemployment rate during the same period of 6.5%. The District of Columbia itself had an unemployment rate of 7.4% as of October 2008.

The District has growing industries not directly related to government, especially in the areas of education, finance, public policy, and scientific research. The George Washington University, Georgetown University, Washington Hospital Center, Howard University, and Fannie Mae are the top five non-government-related employers in the city. There are five Fortune 1000 companies based in Washington, of which two are also Fortune 500 companies.

Washington became the leader in global real estate investment in 2009, ahead of both London and New York City. In 2006, Expansion Magazine ranked D.C. among the top ten areas in the nation favorable to business expansion. Washington has the third-largest downtown in the United States in terms of commercial office space, directly behind New York City and Chicago. Despite the national economic crisis and housing price downturn, Washington ranked second on the Forbes list of the best long-term housing markets in the country.

Gentrification efforts are taking hold in Washington, D.C., notably in the neighborhoods of Logan Circle, Shaw, Columbia Heights, the U Street Corridor, and the 14th Street Corridor. Development was fostered in some neighborhoods by the late-1990s construction of the Green Line on Metrorail, Washington's subway system, which linked them to the downtown area. In March 2008, a new shopping mall in Columbia Heights became the first new major retail center in the District in 40 years. As in many cities, gentrification is revitalizing Washington's economy, but its benefits are unevenly distributed throughout the city and it is not directly helping poor people. In 2006, D.C. residents had a personal income per capita of $55,755, higher than any of the 50 U.S. states. However, 19% of residents were below the poverty level in 2005, higher than any state except Mississippi, which highlights the economic disparities in the city's population.

The National Mall is a large, open park area in the center of the city. Located in the center of the Mall is the Washington Monument. Also located on the mall are the Lincoln Memorial, the National World War II Memorial at the east end of the reflecting pool, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Albert Einstein Memorial. The National Archives houses thousands of documents important to American history including the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Located directly south of the mall, the Tidal Basin features rows of Japanese cherry blossom trees that were presented as gifts from the nation of Japan. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the District of Columbia War Memorial are located around the Tidal Basin.

The Smithsonian Institution is an educational foundation chartered by Congress in 1846 that maintains most of the nation's official museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government partially funds the Smithsonian, thus making its collections open to the public free of charge. The most visited of the Smithsonian museums in 2007 was the National Museum of Natural History located on the National Mall. Other Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries located on the mall are: the National Air and Space Museum; the National Museum of African Art; the National Museum of American History; the National Museum of the American Indian; the Sackler and Freer galleries, which both focus on Asian art and culture; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the Arts and Industries Building; the S. Dillon Ripley Center; and the Smithsonian Institution Building (also known as "The Castle"), which serves as the institution's headquarters.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum (formerly known as the National Museum of American Art) and the National Portrait Gallery are located in the same building, the Donald W. Reynolds Center, near Washington's Chinatown. The Reynolds Center is also known as the Old Patent Office Building. The Renwick Gallery is officially part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum but is located in a separate building near the White House. Other Smithsonian museums and galleries include: the Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast Washington; the National Postal Museum near Union Station; and the National Zoo in Woodley Park.

The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall near the Capitol, but is not a part of the Smithsonian Institution. It is instead wholly owned by the U.S. government; thus admission to the gallery is free. The gallery's west wing features the nation's collection of American and European art through the 19th century. The east wing, designed by architect I. M. Pei, features works of modern art. The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are often confused with the National Gallery of Art when they are in fact entirely separate institutions. The National Building Museum, located near Judiciary Square, was chartered by Congress and hosts temporary and traveling exhibits.

There are many private art museums in the District of Columbia, which house major collections and exhibits open to the public such as: the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the largest private museum in Washington; and The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle, the first museum of modern art in the United States. Other private museums in Washington include the Newseum, the International Spy Museum, the National Geographic Society museum, and the Marian Koshland Science Museum. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum located near the National Mall maintains exhibits, documentation, and artifacts related to the Holocaust.

Washington, D.C. is a national center for the arts. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, and the Washington Ballet. The Kennedy Center Honors are awarded each year to those in the performing arts who have contributed greatly to the cultural life of the United States. The President and First Lady typically attend the Honors ceremony, as the First Lady is the honorary chair of the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees. Washington also has a local independent theater tradition. Institutions such as Arena Stage, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, and the Studio Theatre feature classic works and new American plays.

The U Street Corridor in Northwest D.C., known as "Washington's Black Broadway", is home to institutions like Bohemian Caverns and the Lincoln Theatre, which hosted music legends such as Washington-native Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis. Other jazz venues feature modern blues such as Madam's Organ in Adams Morgan and Blues Alley in Georgetown. D.C. has its own native music genre called go-go; a post-funk, percussion-driven flavor of R&B that blends live sets with relentless dance rhythms. The most accomplished practitioner was D.C. band leader Chuck Brown, who brought go-go to the brink of national recognition with his 1979 LP Bustin' Loose.

Washington is also an important center for indie culture and music in the United States. The label Dischord Records, formed by Ian MacKaye, was one of the most crucial independent labels in the genesis of 1980s punk and eventually indie rock in the 1990s. Washington's indie label history includes TeenBeat, Dischord Records, Simple Machines, and ESL Music among others. Modern alternative and indie music venues like The Black Cat and the 9:30 Club near U Street bring popular acts to smaller more-intimate venues.

Washington, D.C. is a prominent center for national and international media. The Washington Post, founded in 1877, is the oldest and most-read local daily newspaper in Washington. It is probably most notable for its coverage of national and international politics as well as for exposing the Watergate scandal. "The Post", as it is popularly called, continues to print only three main editions; one each for the District, Maryland, and Virginia. Even without expanded national editions, the newspaper has the sixth-highest circulation of all news dailies in the country as of September 2008. USA Today, the nation's largest daily newspaper by circulation, is headquartered in nearby McLean, Virginia.

The Washington Post Company has a daily free commuter newspaper called the Express, which summarizes events, sports and entertainment, as well as the Spanish-language paper El Tiempo Latino. Another local daily, The Washington Times, and the alternative weekly Washington City Paper have substantial readership in the Washington area as well. A number of community and specialty papers focus on neighborhood and cultural issues including: the weekly Washington Blade and Metro Weekly, which focus on LGBT issues; the Washington Informer and The Washington Afro American, which highlight topics of interest to the black community; and neighborhood newspapers published by The Current Newspapers. The Hill and Roll Call newspapers focus exclusively on issues related to Congress and the federal government.

The Washington Metropolitan Area is the ninth-largest television media market in the U.S. with 2,308,290 homes (2.05% of the U.S. population). Several media companies and cable television channels have their headquarters in the area, including: C-SPAN; Black Entertainment Television (BET); the National Geographic Channel; Smithsonian Networks; XM Satellite Radio; National Public Radio (NPR); Travel Channel (in Chevy Chase, Maryland); Discovery Communications (in Silver Spring, Maryland); and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) (in Arlington, Virginia). The headquarters of Voice of America, the U.S. government's international news service, is located near the Capitol in Southwest Washington. The D.C. area is also home to Radio One, the nation's largest African American television and radio conglomerate, founded by media mogul Cathy Hughes.

Washington, D.C. is home to five major professional men's teams. The Washington Wizards (National Basketball Association) and the Washington Capitals (National Hockey League) both play at the Verizon Center (right) in Chinatown. Nationals Park, which opened in Southeast D.C. in 2008, is home to the Washington Nationals (Major League Baseball). D.C. United (Major League Soccer) play at RFK Stadium. The Washington Redskins (National Football League) play at nearby FedExField in Landover, Maryland.

The Washington area is also home to a number of women's professional sports teams. The Washington Mystics (WNBA) play at the Verizon Center and the Washington Glory (National Pro Fastpitch Softball) play at Westfield H.S. Sports Complex in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Washington Freedom are set to be revived in the spring of 2009 within the Women's Professional Soccer league, the successor to the WUSA. Other professional and semi-professional teams based in Washington include: the Washington Bayhawks (Major League Lacrosse), who play at George Mason Stadium; the Washington D.C. Slayers (American National Rugby League); the Potomac Mavericks (PIHA); the Baltimore Washington Eagles (USAFL); the D.C. Divas (NWFA); the D.C. Explosion (Minor League Football); and the Washington RFC (Rugby Super League).

Washington is one of only 13 cities in the United States with teams from all four major men's sports: football, basketball, baseball, and ice hockey. When soccer is included, Washington is one of only eight cities to have all five professional men's sports. D.C. teams have won a combined 11 professional league championships: D.C. United has won four (the most in MLS history); the Washington Redskins have won three; the Washington Bayhawks have won two; and the Washington Wizards and the Washington Glory have each won a single championship. The William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park hosts the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. The Marine Corps Marathon and the National Marathon are both held annually in Washington. The D.C. area is home to one regional sports television network, Comcast SportsNet (CSN), based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution grants the U.S. Congress ultimate authority over Washington, D.C. The District of Columbia did not have an elected city government until the passage of the 1973 Home Rule Act. The Act devolved certain Congressional powers over the District to a local government administered by an elected mayor, currently Adrian Fenty, and the thirteen-member Council of the District of Columbia. However, Congress retains the right to review and overturn laws created by the city council and intervene in local affairs. Each of the city's eight wards elects a single member of the council and five members, including the chairman, are elected at large. There are 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) elected by small neighborhood districts. ANCs traditionally wield a great deal of influence and the city government routinely takes their suggestions into careful consideration.

The mayor and council adopt a local budget, which must be approved by Congress. Local income, sales, and property taxes provide about 67% of the revenue to fund city government agencies and services. Like the 50 states, D.C. receives federal grants for assistance programs such as Medicare, accounting for approximately 26% of the city's total revenue. Congress also appropriates money to the District's government to help offset some of the city's security costs; these funds totaled $38 million in 2007, approximately 0.5% of the District's budget. The Federal government operates the District's court system, and all federal law enforcement agencies, most visibly the U.S. Park Police, have jurisdiction in the city and help provide security as well. All local felony charges are prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President and funded by the United States Department of Justice. In total, the federal government provided about 33% of the District's general revenue. On average, federal funds formed about 30% the states' general revenues in 2007.

The city's local government, particularly during the mayoralty of Marion Barry, was criticized for mismanagement and waste. Barry was elected mayor in 1978, serving three successive four-year terms. However, after being imprisoned for six months on misdemeanor drug charges in 1990, Barry did not run for reelection. In 1991, Sharon Pratt Kelly became the first black woman to lead a major U.S. city. Barry was elected again in 1994, and by the next year the city had become nearly insolvent. Mayor Anthony Williams won election in 1998. His administration oversaw a period of greater prosperity, urban renewal, and budget surpluses. Since his election in 2006, Mayor Adrian Fenty has primarily focused on improving education. Shortly upon taking office, he won approval from the city council to directly manage and overhaul the city's under-performing public school system.

Washington, D.C. observes all federal holidays. The District also celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16, which commemorates the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862.

Citizens of the District of Columbia have no voting representation in Congress. They are represented in the House of Representatives by a non-voting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C. At-Large), who may sit on committees, participate in debate, and introduce legislation, but cannot vote on the House floor. D.C. has no representation in the United States Senate. Unlike U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or Guam, which also have non-voting delegates, citizens of the District of Columbia are subject to all U.S. federal taxes. In the financial year 2007, D.C. residents and businesses paid $20.4 billion in federal taxes; more than the taxes collected from 19 states and the highest federal taxes per capita.

A 2005 poll found that 78% of Americans did not know that residents of the District of Columbia have less representation in Congress than residents of the 50 states. Efforts to raise awareness about the issue have included campaigns by grassroots organizations as well as featuring the city's unofficial motto, "Taxation Without Representation", on D.C. vehicle license plates. There is evidence of nationwide approval for DC voting rights; various polls indicate that 61 to 82% of Americans believe that D.C. should have voting representation in Congress. Despite public support, attempts to grant the District voting representation, including the D.C. statehood movement and the proposed District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment, have been unsuccessful.

Opponents of D.C. voting rights propose that the Founding Fathers never intended for District residents to have a vote in Congress since the Constitution makes clear that representation must come from the states. Those opposed to making D.C. a state claim that such a move would destroy the notion of a separate national capital and that statehood would unfairly grant Senate representation to a single city.

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) operates the city's public school system, which consists of 167 schools and learning centers. The number of students in DCPS has steadily decreased since 1999. In the 2008–09 school year, 46,208 students were enrolled in the public school system. DCPS has one of the highest-cost yet lowest-performing school systems in the country, both in terms of infrastructure and student achievement. Mayor Adrian Fenty's new superintendent of DCPS, Chancellor Michelle Rhee, has made sweeping changes to the system by closing schools, replacing teachers, firing principals, and using private education firms to aid curriculum development.

Due to the problems with the D.C. public school system, enrollment in public charter schools has increased 13% each year since 2001. The District of Columbia Public Charter School Board monitors the 60 public charter schools in the city. As of fall 2008, D.C. charter schools had a total enrollment of 26,494. The District is also home to some of the nation's top private schools. In 2006, approximately 18,000 students were enrolled in the city's 83 private schools.

Washington is home to many notable private universities, including the George Washington University (GW), Georgetown University (GU), American University (AU), the Catholic University of America (CUA), Howard University, Gallaudet University, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). The Corcoran College of Art and Design provides specialized arts instruction and other higher-education institutions offer continuing, distance and adult education. The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is a public university providing undergraduate and graduate postsecondary education.

The District's 16 medical centers and hospitals make it a national center for patient care and medical research. The National Institutes of Health is located in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. Washington Hospital Center (WHC), the largest hospital campus in the District, is both the largest private and the largest non-profit hospital in the Washington area. Immediately adjacent to the WHC is the Children's National Medical Center. Children's is among the highest ranked pediatric hospitals in the country according to U.S. News and World Report. Many of the city's prominent universities, including George Washington, Georgetown, and Howard have medical schools and associated teaching hospitals. Walter Reed Army Medical Center is located in Northwest Washington and provides care for active-duty and retired personnel and their dependents.

Washington, D.C. is often cited as having some of the nation's worst traffic and congestion. In 2007, Washington commuters spent 60 hours a year in traffic, which tied for having the worst traffic in the country after Los Angeles. However, 37.7% of Washington commuters take public transportation to work, also the second-highest rate in the country.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) operates the city's rapid transit system, Metrorail (most often referred to as the Metro), as well as Metrobus. The subway and bus systems serve both the District of Columbia and the immediate Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Metrorail opened on March 27, 1976 and presently consists of 86 stations and 106.3 miles (171.1 km) of track. With an average 950,000 trips each weekday in 2008, Metrorail is the nation's second-busiest rapid transit system in the country, after the New York City Subway.

WMATA expects an average one million Metrorail riders daily by 2030. The need to increase capacity has renewed plans to add 220 subway cars to the system and reroute trains to alleviate congestion at the busiest stations. Population growth in the region has revived efforts to construct two additional suburban Metro lines, as well as a new streetcar system to interconnect the city's neighborhoods; the first tram line is expected to open in late 2009. The surrounding jurisdictions in the Washington area have local bus systems, such as Montgomery County's Ride On, which complement service provided by WMATA. Metrorail, Metrobus and all local public bus systems accept SmarTrip, a reloadable transit pass.

Union Station is the second-busiest train station in the United States, after Penn Station in New York, and serves as the southern terminus of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and Acela Express service. Maryland's MARC and Virginia's VRE commuter trains and the Metrorail Red Line also provide service into Union Station. Intercity bus service is provided by Greyhound, Peter Pan, BoltBus, Megabus, and many other Chinatown bus lines.

Three major airports, one in Maryland and two in Virginia, serve Washington, D.C. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, located just across the Potomac River from downtown D.C. in Arlington County, Virginia, is the only Washington-area airport that has its own Metrorail station. Given its proximity to the city, Reagan National has extra security precautions required by the D.C. Air Defense Identification Zone, as well as additional noise restrictions. Reagan National does not have U.S. Customs and Border Protection and therefore can only provide international service to airports that permit United States border preclearance, which includes destinations in Canada and the Caribbean.

Major international flights arrive and depart from Washington Dulles International Airport, located 26.3 miles (42.3 km) west of the city in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia. Dulles serves as the major east coast airline hub for United Airlines. Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, located 31.7 miles (51.0 km) northeast of the city in Anne Arundel County, Maryland is a hub for Southwest and Airtran airlines.

Washington, D.C. has ten official sister city agreements. Paris is a "Partner City" due to the one Sister City policy of that commune.

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Streetcars in Washington, D.C.

Underground conduit system at 14th & G Streets, NW

For just under 100 years, between 1862 and 1962, streetcars in Washington, D.C. transported people across the city and region.

The first streetcars in Washington D.C. were drawn by horses and carried people short distances on flat terrain; but the introduction of cleaner and faster electric streetcars, capable of climbing steeper inclines, opened up the hilly suburbs north of the old city and in Anacostia. Several of the District's streetcar lines were extended into Maryland, and two Virginia lines crossed into the District. For a brief time, the city experimented with cable cars, but by the beginning of the 20th century, the streetcar system was fully electrified. A bit later, the extensive mergers dubbed the "Great Streetcar Consolidation" gathered most local transit firms into two major companies. In 1933, all streetcars were brought under one company, Capital Transit. The streetcars began to scale back with the rising popularity of the automobile and pressure to switch to buses. After a strike in 1955, the company changed ownership and became DC Transit, with explicit instructions to switch to buses. The system was dismantled in the early 1960s and the last streetcar ran on January 28, 1962.

Today. streetcars, car barns, trackage, stations and right-of way of the system still exists in various states of usage.

Public transportation began in Washington, D.C. almost as soon as the city was founded. In May 1800, two-horse stage coaches began running twice daily from Bridge and High Streets NW (now Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW) in Georgetown by way of M Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW/SE to William Tunnicliff's Tavern at the site now occupied by the Supreme Court Building. Service ended soon after it began.

The next attempt at public transit arrived in the spring of 1830, when Gilbert Vanderwerken's Omnibuses, horse-drawn wagons, began running from Georgetown to the Navy Yard. The company maintained stables on M Street NW. These lines were later extended down 11th Street SE to the waterfront and up 7th Street NW to L Street NW. Vanderwerken's success attracted competitors, who added new lines, but by 1854, all omnibuses had come under the control of two companies, "The Union Line" and "The Citizen's Line." In 1860, these two merged under the control of Vanderwerken and continued to operate until they were run out of business by the next new technology: streetcars.

Streetcars began operation in New York City along the Bowery in 1832, but the technology did not really become popular until 1852, when Alphonse Loubat invented a side-bearing rail that could be laid flush with the street surface, allowing the first horse-drawn streetcar lines. The technology began to spread and on May 17, 1862, the first Washington, D.C. streetcar company, the Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company was incorporated.

The company ran the first streetcar in Washington D.C. from the Capitol to the State Department starting on July 29, 1862. It expanded to full operations from the Navy Yard to Georgetown on October 2, 1862. Another line opened on November 15, 1862. It was built along 7th Street NW from N Street NW to the Potomac River and expanded to the Arsenal (now Fort McNair) in 1875. A third line ran down 14th Street NW from Boundary Street NW (now Florida Avenue) to the Treasury Building. In 1863 the 7th Street line was extended north to Boundary Street NW.

The Washington and Georgetown's monopoly didn't last long. On July 1, 1864, a second streetcar company, the Metropolitan Railroad Company, was incorporated. It opened lines from the Capitol to the War Department along H Street NW. In 1872, it built a line on 9th Street NW and purchased the Union Railroad (chartered on January 19, 1872). It used the Union's charter to expand into Georgetown. In 1873 it purchased the Boundary and Silver Spring Railway Company (chartered on January 19, 1872) and used its charter to build north on what is now Georgia Avenue. In June 1874, it absorbed the Connecticut Avenue and Park Railway (chartered on July 13, 1868; operations started in April 1873) and its line on Connecticut Avenue from the White House to Boundary Avenue.

By 1888, it had built additional lines down 4th Street NW/SW to P Street SW, and on East Capitol Street to 9th Street.

Chartered by Congress on May 24, 1870 and beginning operations the same year, the Columbia Railway Company was the city’s third horse car operator. It ran from the Treasury Building along H Street NW/NE to the city boundary at 15th Street NE. The company built a car barn and stable on the east side of 15th Street just south of H Street at the eastern end of the line.

The Anacostia and Potomac River Railroad Company was chartered on May 5, 1870. It wasn't given approval by Congress until February 18, 1875 but it was constructed that year. The streetcars traveled from the Arsenal and crossed the Navy Yard Bridge to Uniontown (now Historic Anacostia) to Nichols Avenue SE (now Martin Luther King Avenue) and V Street SE where a car barn and stables were maintained by the company. In 1888 the Anacostia and Potomac River expanded from the Navy Yard to Congressional Cemetery, and past Garfield Park to the Center Market (now the National Archives) in downtown. It also expanded up Nichols Avenue past the Government Hospital for the Insane (now St. Elizabeths Hospital).

The last streetcar company to begin operation during the horsecar era was the Capitol, North O Street and South Washington Railway Company. It was incorporated on March 3, 1875 and began operation later that year. It ran on a circular route around downtown D.C. A P Street NW track was added in 1876. In 1881, the route was extended north and south on 11th Street West and tracks were rerouted across the Mall. It changed its name to the Belt Railway Company on February 18, 1893.

During this time, streetcars competed with numerous horse-drawn chariot companies. Starting on March 5, 1877, the date of President Hayes' inauguration, single-horse carriages began running on a route roughly parallel to the Washington and Georgetown's Pennsylvania Avenue route. After three years, streetcars forced the chariots out of business.

This was followed almost immediately by the Herdic Phaeton Company. The electric streetcar, however, was too much for the company to compete with and when its principal stockholder died in 1896, it ceased operations.

After the Herdic Company went under, the Metropolitan Coach Company began running horse-drawn coaches in conjunction with the Metropolitan Railroad, carrying passengers from 16th and T Streets NW to 22nd and G Streets NW. It began operations on May 1, 1897 with a car barn at 1914 E Street NW. In 1904, it became its own corporation.

Horsecars, though an improvement over horse drawn wagons, were slow, dirty and inefficient. Horses needed to be housed and fed, created large amounts of waste, had difficulty climbing hills and were difficult to dispose of. Almost as soon as they were instituted, companies began looking for alternatives. For example, the Washington and Georgetown experimented with a steam motor car in the 1870s and 1880's which was run on Pennsylvania Avenue NW near the Capitol several times, but was never placed in permanent use.

In 1883, Frank Sprague an 1878 Naval Academy graduate, resigned from the Navy to work for Thomas Edison. He wound up in Richmond, Virginia where, on February 2, 1888 he put into service the first electric-powered streetcar system. After 1888, many cities, including Washington, turned to electric-powered streetcars. To get electricity to the streetcars from the powerhouse where it was generated, an overhead wire was installed over city streets. A streetcar would touch this electric wire with a long pole (a "trolley" pole) on its roof. Back at the powerhouse, big steam engines would turn huge generators to produce the electricity needed to operate the streetcars. A new name was soon developed for streetcars powered by electricity in this manner; they were called trolley cars.

By 1888, Washington was expanding north of Boundary Street NW into the hills of Washington Heights and Petworth. Boundary Street was becoming such a misnomer that in 1890 it was renamed Florida Avenue. Climbing the hills to the new parts of the city was difficult for horses, but electric streetcars could do it easily. In the year following the successful demonstration of the Richmond streetcar, four electric streetcar companies were incorporated in Washington D.C. The Eckington and Soldiers' Home Railway was the first to charter, on June 19, 1888, and started operation on October 17. Its tracks started at 7th Street and New York Avenue NW, east of Mount Vernon Square, and traveled 2.5 miles to the Eckington Car Barn at 4th and T Streets NE via Boundary Street NE, Eckington Place NE, R Street NE, 3rd Street NE and T Street NE. Another line ran up 4th Street NE to Michigan Avenue NE. A one-week pass cost $1.25. In 1889, the line was extended along T Street NE, 2nd Street NE and V Street NE to Glenwood Cemetery, but the extension proved unprofitable and was closed in 1894. At the same time, an extension was built along Michigan Avenue NE to the B&O railroad tracks. In 1895, the company removed its overhead trolley lines in accordance with its charter and attempted to replace them with batteries. These proved too costly and the company replaced them with horses in the central city. In 1896, Congress directed the Eckington and Soldier's Home to try compressed air motors and to substitute underground electric power for all its horse and overhead trolley lines in the city. The compressed-air motors were a failure and in 1899 the company switched to the standard underground electric power conduit.

The Rock Creek Railway was the second electric streetcar incorporated in D.C. It was incorporated in 1888 and started operations in 1890 on 2 blocks of Florida Avenue east of Connecticut Avenue. After completing a bridge over Rock Creek at Calvert Street on July 21, 1891, the line was extended through Adams Morgan and north on Connecticut Avenue to Chevy Chase Lake, Maryland. In 1893 a line was added through Cardoza/Shaw to 7th Street NW.

The third electric streetcar company to incorporate, the Georgetown and Tennallytown Railway Company, was chartered on August 22, 1888. In 1890, the railway started operations connecting Georgetown to the extant village of Tennallytown. The line traveled the length of the Georgetown and Rockville Road (now Wisconsin Avenue NW), stretching from the Potomac River to the Maryland state line. In 1890 it was extended across the Maryland line to Bethesda. In 1897, the Washington and Rockville Company formed to extend the line to Rockville. Though the two companies legally acted as different entities, they traveled identical routes on identical rails and shared a car barn (owned by WRECo) on Wisconsin Avenue NW at the District boundary. By 1900, the tracks had extended to Rockville. Map of the Rockville line .

Two more Washington D.C. streetcar companies operating in Maryland were incorporated by acts of Congress in the summer of 1892. The Washington and Great Falls Electric Company was approved on July 28, 1892 to build an electric streetcar line from the Aqueduct Bridge to Cabin John Creek. It completed its track in August 1895. Because the railroad never reached Great Falls, but instead terminated at Cabin John, it was often referred to as the "Cabin John Trolley." The Maryland and Washington Railway Company was approved a few days later on August 1, 1892. In ran on Rhode Island Avenue NE from 4th Street NE reaching what is now Mount Rainier on the Maryland line in 1897. At its southern terminus it connected to the Eckington and Soldier's Home.

The first electric streetcar to operate in Anacostia was the Capital Railway Company. It was incorporated by Colonel Arthur Emmett Randle on March 2, 1895 to serve Congress Heights. It was to run from Shepherds Ferry along the Potomac and across the Navy Yard Bridge to M Street SE. A second line would run along Good Hope Road SE to the District boundary. The line was built during the Panic of 1896 despite 18 months of opposition from the Anacostia and Potomac River. In 1897 it experimented with the "Brown System", which used magnets in boxes to relay power instead of overhead or underground lines, and with double trolley lines over the Navy Yard Bridge. Both were failures. By 1898, the streetcar line ran along Nichols Avenue SE to Congress Heights, ending at Upsal Street SE. At the same time the Capital Railway was incorporated, the Washington and Marlboro Electric Railway was chartered to run trains across the Anacostia River through southeast Anacostia to the District boundary at Suitland Road and from there to Upper Marlboro, but it never laid any track.

The Baltimore and Washington Transit Company was incorporated prior to 1894, with authorization to run from the District of Columbia, across Maryland to the Pennsylvania border. On June 8, 1896 it was given permission to enter the District of Columbia and connect to the spur of the Brightwood that ran on Butternut St NW. In 1897, it began construction on a line, known locally as the Dinky Line, that began at the end of the Brightwood spur at 4th and Butternut Streets NW, traveled south on 4th Street NW to Aspen Street NW and then east on Aspen Street NW and Laurel Street NW into Maryland. Later, between 1903 and 1917, a line was added running south on 3rd St NW and west on Kennedy St NW to Colorado Avenue where it connected to Capital Traction's 14th Street line. On March 14, 1914, it changed its name to the Washington and Maryland Railway Company.

The East Washington Heights Traction Railroad Company was incorporated on June 18, 1898. By 1903 it ran from the Capitol along Pennsylvania Avenue SE to Barney Circle, and by 1908, it went across the bridge to Randle Highlands (now known as Twining) as far as 27th St SE. By 1917 it had been extended out Pennsylvania Avenue past 33rd Street SE.

The last new streetcar company to form was the Washington, Spa Spring and Gretta Railroad Company. It was chartered by the state of Maryland on February 13, 1905 and authorized to enter the District on February 18, 1907. In 1910, it began running cars along a single track from a modest waiting station and car barn near 15th Street NE and H Street NE along Bladensburg Road NE to Bladensburg. . Although initially planned to go as far as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the line never ran further than an extension to Berwyn Heights, Maryland. The route was planned to promote development of company-owned land adjacent to the tracks, but it never successfully competed with established rail lines in the same area. Noting its diminished ambitions, it became the Washington Interurban Railway Company on October 12, 1912 and changed the Railway to Railroad in 1919.

On March 2, 1889 the District authorized every streetcar company in Washington to switch from horse power to underground cable or to electricity provided by battery or underground wire and in 1890 companies were authorized to sell stock to pay for the upgrades - provided they did not involve overhead wires. In 1892, one-horse cars were banned within the city, and by 1894 Congress began requiring companies to switch to something other than horse power while continuing to disallow overhead lines within the city.

After the March 2, 1889 law passed, the Washington and Georgetown began installing an underground cable system. Their 7th Street line switched to cable car on April 12, 1890. The rest of the system switched to cable by August 18, 1892. In 1892, they extended their track along 14th to Park Road NW.

On October 18, 1888, the day after the Eckington and Soldier's Home began operation, Congress authorized the Brightwood Railway Company to electrify the Metropolitan's streetcar line on Seventh Street Extended NW or Brightwood Avenue NW (now known as Georgia Avenue NW) and to extend it to the District boundary at Silver Spring. In 1890 they bought the former Boundary and Silver Spring line from the Metropolitan, but continued to operate it as a horse line. In 1892 it was ordered by Congress to switch to overhead electrical power and complete the line. The next year, the streetcar tracks reached Takoma Park via a spur along Butternut Street NW to 4th Street NW. In 1898, the Brightwood was ordered to switch to underground electric power on pain of having its charter revoked.

The Metropolitan experimented with batteries in 1890 but found them unsatisfactory. On August 2, 1894 Congress ordered the Metropolitan to switch to underground electrical power. It complied, installing the underground sliding shoe on the north-south line in January 1895. The Metropolitan switched the rest of the system to electric power on July 7, 1896 In 1895, the Metropolitan built a streetcar barn near the Arsenal and a loop in Georgetown to connect it to the Georgetown Car Barn. In 1896 it extended service along East Capitol Street and built the East Capitol Street Car Barn, (photo); and extended its service to Mount Pleasant.

The Columbia decided to try a cable system, the last cable car system built in the United States. They built a new cable car barn and began operating the system on March 9, 1895. It became clear that the underground electrical system was superior, so it quickly abandoned cable cars and switched to electrical power on July 22, 1899. The last cable car in the city ran the next day.

Using electricity from the power plant built to power its cable operation, the Columbia won permission in 1898 to build a line east along Benning Road NE, splitting on the east side of the Anacostia. One branch ran to Kenilworth, and the other connected at Seat Pleasant with the terminus of the steam-powered Chesapeake Beach Railroad.

In 1896 the Belt Railway tried out compressed air motors. The compressed air motors were a failure, and in 1899 the cars were equipped with the standard underground power system.

The Anacostia and Potomac River switched from horses to electricity in April 1900. This was the last horse drawn streetcar to run in the District.

Two electric trolley companies serving Northern Virginia operated also in the District and a third received permission to do so, but never did.

The Washington and Arlington Railway Company was the first Virginia company given permission to operate in Washington. It was incorporated on February 28, 1892 with the right to run a streetcar from the train station at 6th Street NW and B Street NW to Virginia across a new Three Sisters Bridge. It was also allotted space in the Georgetown Car Barn. The company was never able to construct the new bridge, and so never operated in Washington.

The Washington, Alexandria and Mount Vernon Electric Railway Company started construction in Virginia in 1892. On August 23, 1894 it was given permission to enter the District of Columbia using a ferry. It completed its tracks in 1896 and began serving a waiting station at 14th Street NW and B Street NW. From the waiting station it used the Belt Line's track on 14th Street to reach the Long Bridge, a combined road and rail crossing of the Potomac River, never opting to use the ferry system. The Jefferson Davis Highway was later relocated from the rail alignment to a new through-truss crossing, immediately west of the Long Bridge. This original highway span was removed in the early 1970s.

In 1902 its station was moved to 12th Street NW and D Street NW (near the site of the present Federal Triangle Metro station) to make room for the District Building. On October 17, 1910 the Washington and Arlington, by then the Washington, Arlington and Falls Church Railroad Company, and the Washington, Alexandria and Mount Vernon merged to form the Washington - Virginia Railway Company. The company had difficulty competing and in 1924 declared bankruptcy. In 1927 the two companies were split and sold at auction. The former Washington, Arlington and Falls Church reemerged as the Arlington and Fairfax Electric Railway Company and continued to serve the city on the Washington-Virginia route until January 17, 1932, when the Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway (now the George Washington Memorial Parkway) opened.

The Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad Company was chartered January 24, 1900 and authorized to enter the District on January 29, 1903. It crossed over the Aqueduct Bridge and terminated at a station immediately west of the Georgetown Car Barn. In 1912, it was incorporated into the new Washington and Old Dominion Railway and became the Great Falls Division of that company.

By the mid-1890s, there were numerous streetcar companies operating in the District. Congress tried to deal with this fractured transit system by requiring them to accept transfers, set standard pricing and by allowing them to use one another's track. But eventually, lawmakers settled on consolidation as the best solution.

On March 1, 1895, Congress authorized the Rock Creek to purchase the Washington and Georgetown on Sept. 21, producing the Capital Traction Company. In 1916 Capital Traction took ownership of the Washington and Maryland and its 2.591 miles of track.

After Capital Traction's powerhouse at 14th and E NW burned down on September 29, 1897, the company replaced the cable cars with an electric system. The 14th Street branch switched to electric power on February 27, 1898, the Pennsylvania Avenue division on April 20, 1898 and the 7th Street branch on May 26, 1898.

The Anacostia and Potomac River began expanding on June 24, 1898, by purchasing the Belt Railway; the next year, it bought the Capital Railway.

Between 1896 and 1899, three businessmen purchased controlling interests in the Metropolitan; the Columbia; the Anacostia and Potomac River; the Georgetown and Tennallytown; the Washington, Woodside and Forest Glen; the Washington and Great Falls; and the Washington and Rockville railway companies, in addition to the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) and the United States Electric Lighting Company. They incorporated the Washington Traction and Electric Company on June 5, 1899 as a holding company for these interests. But the holding company had borrowed too heavily and paid too much for the subsidiaries and quickly landed in financial trouble. To prevent transit disruption, Congress on June 5, 1900, authorized the Washington and Great Falls to acquire the stock of any and all of the railways and power companies owned by Washington Traction. When Washington Traction defaulted on its loans on June 1, 1901, Washington and Great Falls moved in to take its place. On February 4, 1902, Washington and Great Falls changed its named to the Washington Railway and Electric Company, reincorporated as a holding company and exchanged stock in Washington Traction and Electric one for one for stock in the new company (at a discounted rate).

Not every company became a part of Washington Railway immediately. The City and Suburban and the Georgetown and Tennallytown operated as subsidiaries of Washington Railway until October 31, 1926 when it purchased the remainder of their stock.

During this time the streetcar companies continued to expand both trackage and service. The American Sight-Seeing Car and Coach Company started running tourist cars along Washington Railway streetcar tracks in 1902 and continued until it switched to large automobiles in 1904. In 1908, Washington Railway's U Street line was extended east down Florida Avenue NW/NE to 8th Street NE, and from there south down 8th Street NE/SE to the Navy Yard. On June 24, 1908 the first streetcars began service to Union Station along Delaware Avenue NE and by December 6 cars of both Capital Traction and Washington Railway were serving the building along Massachusetts Avenue NE.

In 1908, the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway began service from Washington to Baltimore and Annapolis. Though technically an interurban, this railway utilized streetcar tracks from its terminal at 15th and H Streets NE and across the Benning Road Bridge where it switched to its own tracks in Deanwood. It was the main source of transportation to Suburban Gardens, known as "the black Glen Echo", the first and only major amusement park within Washington.

The next major consolidation occurred on August 31, 1912 when the Washington Railway purchased the controlling stock of the Anacostia and Potomac River. This left only 6 companies operating in Washington - four of which had less than 3 miles of track. It also led to Congress passing the "Anti-Merger Act", prohibiting mergers without Congress' approval and establishing the Public Utilities Commission. In 1914 a failed attempt was made to have the Federal Government purchase all of the streetcar lines and companies.

Streetcars were unionized in 1916 when local 689 of the Amalgamated Association of Street, Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America won recognition after a three day strike.

Further consolidation came in the form of the North American Company, a transit and utilities holding company. North American began to acquire stock in Washington Railway in 1922, gaining a controlling interest by 1928. By December 31, 1933 it owned 50.016% of the voting stock. North American tried to purchase Capital Traction, but never owned more than 2.5% of Capital Traction stock.

By 1916 streetcar use was reaching its peak in Washington, D.C. The combined systems had over 200 miles of track, with almost 100 in the city. Passengers could travel to Great Falls, Glen Echo, Rockville, Kensington and Laurel in Maryland; and to Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Vienna, Fairfax, Leesburg, Great Falls and Bluemont in Virginia. World War I saw further increases in passenger traffic. But the streetcars were also under increasing threat from competition.

The first threat to the streetcars came with the introduction of gasoline powered taxicabs. The taximeter, invented in 1891, combined with the combustion engine, created a new form of public transportation. Taxicabs were put into service in Paris in 1899, in New York in 1907 and in Washington in 1908. Over the years, their numbers expanded.

In 1909 the Metropolitan Coach Company began to switch from horse-drawn coaches to gasoline-powered coaches - replacing its entire system by 1913 - becoming a precursor to the bus companies. It was a financial failure though and on August 13, 1915 the company ceased operations.

The gasoline-powered bus was invented in Germany in 1895 and motorized buses were introduced in New York City in 1905. As improvements, such as balloon tires, were made, buses became more popular. The first formal bus company in Washington, the Washington Rapid Transit Company, was incorporated on January 20, 1921. By 1932 it was carrying 4.5% of transit customers. Two years later, the last streetcar line was built.

Just as the horse cars had replaced carriages and the electric streetcar replaced horse cars, so too were buses to replace the electric streetcars.

In 1923, the number of streetcar companies operating in Washington cut in half as three companies switched to buses. The East Washington Heights became the first streetcar company to switch, replacing its two streetcars and one mile of track with a bus line. The Washington Interurban switched next and its tracks were removed when Bladensburg Road was repaved. In that same year, the Key Bridge was constructed and, as a result, the Washington and Old Dominion gave up rail access to D.C. in exchange for a terminal in Rosslyn.

When electric streetcars began, several lines also delivered freight on rail cars running on their lines. Capital Traction abandoned this service in 1931.

In 1932, the Arlington and Fairfax Motor Transportation Company was established to replace the streetcar service of the Arlington and Fairfax which lost the right to use the Highway Bridge. The last Arlington and Fairfax streetcar departed from 12th Street NW and D Street NW, on January 17, 1932, abandoning all streetcar service in the city.

In the summer of 1935 - after consolidation, several major lines were converted from streetcars to buses. The line from Friendship Heights to Rockville (formerly the Washington and Rockville), the P Street line (Metropolitan), the Anacostia-Congress Heights line (Capital Railway) and the Connecticut Avenue line in Chevy Chase (Rock Creek) were all replaced with buses. At the same time, the Chesapeake Beach Railroad and the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis interurban ceased operations. The rail of the WB&A become the property of Capital Transit.

With further bustitution, the Columbia Railway Company Car Barn was converted to a bus barn in 1942.

On December 1, 1933 Washington Railway, Capital Traction, and Washington Rapid Transit merged to form the Capital Transit Company. Washington Railway continued as a holding company, owning 50% of Capital Transit and 100% of PEPCO, but Capital Traction was dissolved. For the first time, street railways in Washington were under the management of one company.

During the 1930s, city newspapers began pushing for streetcar tunneling. The Capitol Subway was built in 1906 and three years later, the Washington Post called for a citywide subway to be built. Nothing happened until Capital Transit took over. The full $35 million plan to depress streets as trenches for exclusive streetcar use never materialized, but in 1942 an underground loop terminal was built at 14th and C Streets SW under the Bureau of Engraving and on December 14, 1949, the Connecticut Avenue subway tunnel under Dupont Circle, running from N Street to R Street, was opened.

In 1946, a decision by the United States Supreme Court in North American Company v. Security and Exchange Commission, the Supreme Court upheld the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 and forced the North American Company, because it also owned the Potomac Electric Power Company, to sell its shares of Capital Transit. Buyers were hard to come by, but on September 12, 1949, Louis Wolfson and his three brothers purchased from North American 46.5% of the company's stock for $20 per share and the Washington Railway was dissolved. For $2.2 million they bought a company with $7 million in cash. The Wolfson's began paying themselves huge dividends until, in 1955, the war chest was down to $2.7 million. During the same period, transit trips dropped by 40,000 trips per day and automobile ownership doubled.

On December 29, 1954, Capital Transit lost one of its last freight customers when the East Washington Railway took over the delivery of coal from the B&O to the PEPCO Power plant at Benning. Previously this had been done using Capital Transit's steeple-cab electric locomotives operating over a remnant of the Benning car line.

In January 1955 the Capital Transit Company, then consisting of 750 buses and 450 streetcars, sought permission for a fare increase, but was denied. So that spring, when employees asked for a raise, there was no money available and the company refused to increase pay. Frustrated, employees went on strike on July 1, 1955. The strike, only the third in D.C. history and the first since a three day strike in 1945, lasted for seven weeks. Commuters were forced to hitch rides and walk in the brutal summer heat.

On July 18, 1956, after Wolfson dared the Senate to revoke his franchise claiming no other entrepreneur would take the company on, the Congress did just that. Months later, the franchise was sold to O. Roy Chalk, a New York financier who owned controlling interest in Trans Caribbean Airways, for $13.5 million. The company's name was then changed to DC Transit.

As part of the deal selling Capital Transit to O. Roy Chalk, he was required to replace the system with buses by 1963. Chalk fought the retirement of the streetcars but was unsuccessful, and the final abandonment of the streetcar system began on September 7, 1958 with the end of the North Capitol Street (Route 80) and Maryland (Route 82) lines. On January 3, 1960, the Glen Echo (Route 20), Friendship Heights (Route 30) & Georgia Avenue (Routes 70, 72, 74) streetcar lines were abandoned and the Southern Division (Maine Avenue) Car Barn was closed. This technically ended "trolley" cars in D.C. as only conduit operations remained. On December 3, 1961 the streetcar lines to Mount Pleasant (Routes 40, 42) and 11th Street (Route 60) were abandoned.

The remaining system, including lines to the Navy Yard, the Colorado Avenue terminal, and the Bureau of Engraving (Routes 50, 54) and to the Calvert Street Loop, Barney Circle, and Union Station (Routes 90, 92) was shut down in January 1962. Early on the morning of Sunday, January 28, 1962, preceded by cars 1101 and 1053, car 766 entered the Navy Yard Car Barn for the last time, and Washington's streetcars became history.

After the system was abandoned, most of the cars were either destroyed or sold. Several hundred cars were scrapped, cut in half at the center door and junked. 150 of the streetcars were sold to Barcelona where they were in service into the 1970s; 200 more were sold to Sarajevo where they ran until the civil war; and 15 more went to Fort Worth, TX for use on the Tandy Center Subway until it shut down in 2002.

Of the hundreds of streetcars that once plied the streets of Washington, there are only about 20 remaining. Of these only one, Capital Transit 1551, is still in daily transit use. One of the 15 sold to Fort Worth, it was repainted and transferred to the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority in 2002 where it provides part-time regular streetcar service along the streets of Dallas. The only other car still in use, a Capital Transit PCC car sold to Sarajevo, has been restored and operates in charter service in Sarajevo.

Others serve as museum pieces. The only Washington streetcar still in the District is Capital Traction 303 which serves as an exhibit in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Washington and Georgetown 212 is also preserved by the Smithsonian, but stored in the Smithsonian's facility in Suitland, MD. Seven more, including D.C. Transit 1101 and 1540, Capital Transit 509, 522, 766 and 1430, and Washington Railway 650, are preserved at the National Capital Trolley Museum in the Washington suburbs. Three other cars owned by the Trolley Museum were lost in a fire on September 28, 2003. Farther from D.C., D.C. Transit 1470 is kept at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia, Capital Transit 09 is at Rockhill Trolley Museum in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, Capital Transit 010 is maintained at the Connecticut Trolley Museum and D.C. Transit 1304 is kept at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME. Three of the Ft. Worth cars are held in storage by North Texas Historic Transportation with plans to place them in yet-to-be-built museum. Finally, two of the Barcelona cars are privately owned and stored in Madrid, Spain and Ejea de los Caballeros, Spain, and another two are in the del Transport in Castellar de n'Hug, Spain (Photo of one).

Much of the track in D.C. was removed and sold for scrap. The complex trackwork on Capitol Plaza in front of Washington Union Station was removed in the mid-1960s and the Pennsylvania Avenue NW trackwork between the Capitol and the Treasury Building was removed during the redevelopment of that avenue during the mid-1980s.

In other places, the track was buried under pavement. The loop tracks of the former Capitol Transit connection, behind the closed restaurant on Calvert Street NW, immediately east of the Duke Ellington Bridge, are extant under asphalt. The tracks on Florida Avenue also exist under pavement (as evidenced by the eternal seam above the conduit). Tracks also exist under Ellington Place NE, 3rd Street NE and 8th Street SE among others.

The only remaining visible tracks and conduit in the region are in the center of the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, specifically the 3400 through 3800 blocks of P Street NW and O Street NW.

Some car barns, or car houses as they were later known, survived in part or in whole.

Other car barns were demolished.

A few stations and terminals have survived. Sometime after conversion of the Mt. Pleasant Line in December 1961, the Dupont Circle streetcar stations were used as a civil defense storage area for a few years and then left empty again. The space was once considered for a columbarium. In 1993 one of the stations was opened as a food court called DuPont Down Under, but after only 18 months it closed and the space has been vacant ever since. In 2007, D.C. Council member Jim Graham began consideration of a suggestion to allow adult-themed clubs to move into the property.

The Colorado Avenue Terminal on 14th Street NW is still in use as a Metrobus stop and the Calvert Street loop just east of the Duke Ellington Bridge is still used as a Metrobus turnaround loop.

There was a streetcar station in the center of Barney Circle but it was removed in the 1970s.

The streetcar turnaround at 11th and Monroe NW is now the 11th and Monroe Streets Park.

The Dupont Circle streetcar station tunnel entrances, located where the tree-filled medians of Connecticut Avenue NW now stand north of N Street NW and between R Street NW and S Street NW, were filled in and paved over in August 1964, leaving only the traffic tunnel.

The C Street NW/NE tunnel beneath the Upper Senate Park remained in use as a one-way service road adjacent to the Capital, but since 9/11 it has been closed to the public.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing underground loop is now part of a parking structure and storage area that is located directly underneath 14th Street SW. Tracks can still be seen in the floors in some locations of the Bureau.

The right-of-way of the Glen Echo line is extant from the Georgetown Car Barn all the way to the Dalecarlia Reservoir filtration plant. It includes an abutment near an entrance to Georgetown University, a trestle over Foundry Branch in Glover Archibald Park, a bridge over Arizona Avenue NW, between Dorsett Place NW and Sherier Place NW and the median of Sherier Place NW from Cathedral Avenue NW to Manning Place NW. Part of the right-of-way on the Georgetown campus was removed in the spring of 2007 to create a turning lane off of Canal Road NW.

The wide median of Pennsylvania Avenue SE from the Capitol to Barney Circle was built in 1903 to serve as a streetcar right of way. It now serves as urban greenspace.

Perhaps the most visible remnant of the streetcar system is the Metrobus system, run by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). On January 14, 1973, WMATA purchased DC Transit and the Washington, Virginia and Maryland Coach Company (followed on February 4th by the purchase of AB&W Transit Company and WMA Transit Company) unifying all the bus companies in D.C.

Many of today's WMATA's bus routes are only marginally changed from the streetcar lines they followed. For example, the #30 streetcar route that ran from Barney Circle to Friendship Heights is now the #30 bus line that runs from Anacostia through Barney Circle to Friendship Heights.

Still other remnants include the Potomac Electric Power Company, the electric portion of Washington Traction and Electric Company, which remains the D.C. area's primary electrical power company; some streetcar-related manhole covers that remain in use around town; and two trolley poles for Capital Traction's overhead wires on the Connecticut Avenue Bridge over Klingle Valley in Cleveland Park. The poles likely date back to the bridge's construction in 1931.

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WDCA

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WDCA, channel 20, is a television station in Washington, D.C.. Owned by Fox Television Stations, a division of the News Corporation, WDCA is a sister station to Fox network outlet WTTG (channel 5), and is affiliated with the co-owned MyNetworkTV programming service. The two stations share studio facilities in the Tenleytown section of Washington, which also where WDCA's transmitter is located.

From January 1995 to August 2006, WDCA was affiliated with the United Paramount Network (UPN). Prior to 1995, WDCA was an independent station.

WDCA-TV signed on as an independent station on April 20, 1966, owned by the Capitol Broadcasting Corporation. It was Washington's third independent station, nearly 20 years younger than its future sister station WTTG, which had been founded as a DuMont affiliate, and after WOOK, the nation's first African-American-oriented tv station. Veteran Washington broadcaster Milton Grant, who previously worked at WTTG, was president of Capitol Broadcasting, and thus was WDCA's founding General Manager. Grant would sell channel 20 three years later to the Superior Tube Company although he would stay on as WDCA's General Manager for the next decade. WDCA offered Japanese cartoons dubbed into English including Speed Racer, Astro Boy, Ultraman, Kimba the White Lion, 8 Man, Marine Boy, Johnny Sokko, Space Giants and King Kong.

In 1979, Superior Tube sold WDCA to the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Taft Television and Radio Company. In the 1970s and 1980s, WDCA's best-known personality was Dick Dyszel, who played Bozo the Clown, horror movie host "Count Gore de Vol", kids show host "Captain 20", and also served as the station's main announcer. The station was also home to Petey Greene's Washington, an Emmy award-winning show featuring the witicisms and observations of Ralph "Petey" Greene, civil-rights activist and native Washingtonian.

The Taft purchase created a debt load for TVX and the sale of their smaller-market stations did not fully reduce the debt. In mid-1989, TVX sold a minority interest in its company to Paramount Pictures. Two years later, in 1991, Paramount bought TVX's remaining shares and became full owner of the stations, which were renamed the Paramount Stations Group. Viacom purchased the group as part of its acquisition of Paramount Pictures in 1993.

On January 16, 1995, WDCA became a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN), which was originally co-owned by Viacom and Chris-Craft Industries.

In mid-summer of 1995, WDCA experimented with a 10:00 p.m. newscast to compete with WTTG. UPN 20 News at 10 was a half-hour nightly newscast produced by, and featuring on-air talent from Allbritton Communications' News Channel 8. The newscast was discontinued in the summer of 1996.

On October 29, 2001, Viacom traded WDCA to the News Corporation's Fox Television Stations unit (along with KTXH in Houston) in return for KBHK-TV in San Francisco, resulting in the first television duopoly in the Washington D.C. market. Fox merged the two stations' operations, with WDCA moving from its longtime studios in Bethesda, Maryland, into WTTG's facilities on Wisconsin Avenue NW in Friendship Heights, DC.

On January 24, 2006, UPN and the WB Television Network announced that they would merge to form a new network, known as the CW Television Network. WB affiliate WBDC (channel 50, now WDCW), owned by Tribune Broadcasting, was announced as Washington's CW station. On the day following the announcement of the creation of the CW, WDCA changed its branding from UPN 20 to DCA 20, and revamped its logo to highlight the brand change. The station also stopped promoting UPN programming. Similar changes were also made to Fox's other UPN affiliates, as the CW network list did not include any of the Fox-owned UPN stations. The formation of MyNetworkTV, of which WDCA and the other Fox-owned UPN stations have become affiliates, was announced on February 22, 2006, less than a month later.

Channel 20 began its on-air transition towards MyNetworkTV affiliation on May 5, 2006, when WDCA changed its branding again, this time from "DCA 20" to "My 20".

Despite the announced launch date of MyNetworkTV on September 5, 2006, UPN continued to broadcast on stations across the country until September 15, 2006. While some UPN affiliates who switched to MyNetworkTV aired the final two weeks of UPN programming outside its regular primetime period, the Fox-owned stations, including WDCA, dropped UPN entirely on August 31, 2006.

WDCA's digital signal on UHF channel 35 had been very weak due to a problem with Washington D.C. in constructing a new transmitter tower. However, around August 10, 2006, it was operating at full power and receivable in the suburbs.

As early as 1987--when it was displaced on Charlotte-area cable systems by WJZY--WDCA began losing most of its large cable audience as more independent stations signed on in the areas where it was carried. However, it is still available on several cable systems in Maryland and Virginia.

For most of the 1980s and early 1990s, WDCA was the flagship station of the Washington Bullets and Washington Capitals. It was also the Washington, D.C. home of the Baltimore Orioles.

WDCA's logo under Superior Tube ownership used throughout the 1970s.

WDCA's 1985 logo using the Taft Broadcasting copyright.

WDCA's station ID circa Spring of 1995.

WDCA's previous logo from the late 1990s as it appeared on its website.

WDCA's previous logo from the early 2000s.

WDCA's previous logo used from 2002 to January 2006.

WDCA's first My 20 logo used from May to June 2006.

WDCA's current My 20 logo.

On or before February 17, 2009, WDCA will shut down channel 20 and continue broadcasting on channel 35 to complete its analog to digital conversion. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers will display WDCA's virtual channel as "20".

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Washington Nationals

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The Washington Nationals are an American professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C., United States. The Nationals are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The team moved into the newly-built Nationals Park in 2008, after playing their first three seasons in RFK Stadium. The new park is located in Southeast D.C. near the Anacostia River and with views of the Capitol.

The Nationals name originates from the two former Washington baseball teams who held the same name (used interchangeably with Senators). They are nicknamed "the Nats," a shortened version of the Nationals name that was also used by the old D.C. teams.

An expansion franchise, the club was founded in Montreal, Quebec in 1969. The then-Montreal Expos were the first major league team in Canada. They played their home games at Jarry Park Stadium and later in Olympic Stadium. The team saw very little success, their most successful season coming in the strike-shortened season of 1994. They had the best record in baseball when the season was cut short, and were regarded by many to have been the team to beat that year. This may have been the death blow for baseball in Montreal, although the team did stay in Quebec for 10 more seasons. After the 2001 season, Major League Baseball even considered shutting the team down (along with either the Minnesota Twins or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). The team finally left before the 2005 season, moving to Washington to become the Nationals. This was the first complete name change for a relocating team in Major League Baseball since 1972, when the Washington Senators left D.C. to become the Texas Rangers. They are one of three teams (the others being the aforementioned Rangers and the Seattle Mariners) never to have played in a World Series, never having officially won a league championship. They won a division championship, and advanced to the National League Championship Series, in their only playoff appearance, which was under the strange circumstances of the strike-shortened 1981 season.

The Montreal Expos joined the National League in 1969, along with the San Diego Padres. After a decade of losses, the team became a winner in the early 1980s, winning their only division championship in the strike-shortened split season of 1981. That team lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 3–2 in the National League Championship Series. After several mediocre years in the late 1980s, the team rebounded in the early 1990s. In 1994, the Expos, led by a talented group of players including Larry Walker, Moisés Alou, Marquis Grissom and Pedro Martínez, had the best record in the major leagues before the 1994 Major League Baseball strike forced the cancellation of the remainder of the season. After the disappointment of 1994, the Expos began to lose players, money and fans. Ownership squabbles, the decimated fan base, a difficulty in selling broadcasting rights, and numerous other issues led to the team being bought by MLB in 2002.

Numerous professional baseball teams have called Washington D.C. home. The Washington Senators, a founding member of the American League, played in the nation's capital from 1901 to 1960. These Senators were founded and owned by Clark Griffith and played in Griffith Stadium. With notable stars including Walter Johnson and Joe Cronin, the Senators won the 1924 World Series and pennants in 1925 and 1933, but were more often unsuccessful and moved to Minnesota for the 1961 season. A second Washington Senators (1961-1971) had a winning record only once in their 11 years, though bright spots, such as slugger Frank Howard, earned the love of fans. The second Senators moved to Texas for the 1972 season, and Washington spent the next 33 years without a baseball team.

After several years in a holding pattern, MLB began actively looking for a relocation site for the Expos. Some of the choices included Oklahoma City; Washington, D.C.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Monterrey, Mexico; Portland, Oregon; Northern Virginia; Norfolk, Virginia; New Jersey; and Charlotte, North Carolina. In the decision-making process, Commissioner Bud Selig added Las Vegas, Nevada to the list of potential Expos homes.

On September 29, 2004, MLB officially announced that the Expos would move to Washington, D.C. in 2005. The move was approved by the owners of the other teams in a 28–1 vote on December 3 (Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos cast the sole dissenting vote). In addition, on November 15, 2004, a lawsuit by the former team owners against MLB and former majority owner Jeffrey Loria was struck down by arbitrators, ending legal moves to keep the Expos in Montreal.

Although there was some sentiment to revive the name Senators, political considerations factored into the choice of Nationals, a revival of the first American League franchise's "official" nickname used from 1905 to 1956. Politicians in the District of Columbia objected to the name Senators because the District of Columbia does not have voting representation in Congress. Another reason was the Texas Rangers (the second Washington Senators team) still owned the rights to the "Senators" name.

The move was announced despite opposition from Peter Angelos, owner of the nearby Baltimore Orioles. Since 1972, the Orioles had been the only MLB franchise in the Baltimore-Washington area, which he considered a single market in spite of vastly different cultures and populations in the two cities. Angelos contended that the Orioles would suffer financially if another team were allowed to enter the market. Critics objected that the Orioles and the Washington Senators had shared the market successfully from 1954 through 1971. This reasoning disturbed many in Washington who recalled that it was the Griffith family, owners of the Washington Senators, who allowed the St. Louis Browns to move to Baltimore in 1954 in the first place.

On March 31, 2005, Angelos and Major League Baseball struck a deal to protect the Orioles against any financial harm the Nationals might present.

Under the terms of the deal, television and radio broadcast rights to Nationals games are handled by the Orioles franchise, who formed a new network (the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) to produce and distribute the games for both franchises on both local affiliates and cable/satellite systems. MASN was not, however, immediately available on all cable providers, adding to the frustration of Nationals fans. In fact, most in the DC area missed almost the entirety of the Nationals first two seasons. The deal with Angelos makes the Nationals the only major league baseball team which does not own their own broadcast rights.

The team's relocation to Washington was contingent on a financing plan for the Nationals' new stadium — this plan quickly became the subject of much debate on the D.C. Council.

Three Council members who supported Mayor Anthony Williams's plan were ousted in September 2004's Democratic party primary. In addition, an opinion poll conducted by the Washington Post during the peak of the controversy found that approximately two-thirds of District residents opposed the mayor's stadium plan.

During December 2004, the move to Washington itself was called into doubt when the D.C. Council sought to change details of the stadium's financing. When the Council voted on December 14 to require 50 percent private financing for any new stadium, MLB ceased promotional activities for the Nationals and announced that they would consider looking for a new market.

Eventually, the council passed an amended plan on December 21, 2004 that proved slightly more financially favorable to the city, while remaining acceptable to MLB. Mayor Williams signed the stadium financing package on December 30.

During the 2005 season, a private financing plan for construction of the stadium was negotiated between the city and a syndicate of bankers led by Deutsche Bank. The negotiations of the details ran into another problem in November 2005. The bankers requested a letter of credit or other financial guarantee of $24 million US, $6 million for each of four years, ensuring payment of lease revenues against various risks including poor attendance and terrorism. The city requested that Major League Baseball provide this guarantee, which they were unwilling to do.

On December 22, 2005, the Post reported that Major League Baseball had specifically instructed prospective owners not to offer to pay cost overruns on the stadium if they were selected as the owners. Bidders were also told not to communicate with the press about these issues.

In February 2006, the DC City Council imposed a $611 million cap on the stadium.

Finally, on March 5, Major League Baseball signed a lease for a new ballpark, agreeing to the city's $611 million cap. MLB also agreed to contribute $20 million toward the cost of the stadium, although it did not agree to cover stadium overruns. Further, MLB added the condition that excess ballpark tax revenue earmarked for debt service for the bonds to be available for cost overruns. Two days later, on March 7 the DC City Council, by a vote of 9–4, approved a construction contract for a state-of-the-art stadium with a contemporary glass-and-stone facade, seats for 41,000 fans and a view of the U.S. Capitol, and affirmed its demand that public spending on the project be limited to $611 million. The votes were the final actions needed to satisfy the terms of the deal struck in September 2004, paving the way for the sale of the team.

Major League Baseball had agreed at the time that the franchise was moved to Washington, DC, to sell the team to an owner or ownership syndicate. Several dates for sale of the team were set and missed due to the legal wrangling regarding the building of the stadium. The delay was harshly criticized by city residents and leaders as reported in the Washington Post.

Selecting from a finalized group of three potential ownership syndicates, Major League Baseball announced in July 2006 that it had chosen the Lerner Enterprises group, led by billionaire real-estate developer Theodore N. Lerner. The final sale price of the team was $450 million and the transfer of ownership was completed July 24, 2006. In late September 2006, Comcast finally agreed to broadcast the Nationals games.

When Ted Lerner took over the club in mid-2006, he hired Stan Kasten as team president. Kasten was widely known as the architect of the Atlanta Braves before and during their run of 14 consecutive National League Eastern Division titles. Kasten was also the general manager or president of many other Atlanta-area sports teams, such as the Atlanta Thrashers. "The Plan," as it became known, was a long-range rebuilding and restructuring of the team from the ground up. This plan included investing in the farm system and draft picks, and having a suitable team to go along with their new stadium.

At the end of the 2006 season, the Nationals did not re-sign free agent and star OF Alfonso Soriano. Soriano signed a $136 million contract with the Cubs, and Washington received two draft picks in return. OF Jose Guillen was also allowed to depart via free agency, and another high draft pick was obtained. Another high priced player, 2B/DH Jose Vidro, was traded to the Seattle Mariners for prospects OF Chris Snelling and RHP Emiliano Fruto. In mid-2006, the Nationals received OF Austin Kearns, 2B/SS Felipe López, and RHP Ryan Wagner from the Reds, giving up LHP Gary Majewski, LHP Bill Bray, SS Royce Clayton, 2B Brendan Harris and RHP Daryl Thompson. In August they traded RHP Liván Hernández to the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospects LHP Matt Chico and RHP Garrett Mock. Other players traded or let go from the 2005 season were OF Preston Wilson, RHP Hector Carrasco, IF Jamey Carroll, and OF Terrmel Sledge. The team also acquired pitching prospects Luis Atilano from Atlanta, Shairon Martis from San Francisco and Jhonny Nunez from the Dodgers. In 2006, they had two first-round draft picks, OF Chris Marrero, and RHP Colten Williams, and signed them both to developmental contracts. The Nationals also signed a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop, Esmailyn Gonzalez, for $1.4 million. Gonzalez was later revealed to be 20 years old at the time of his signing.

In the front office, the Nationals hired the well-respected former Arizona scouting director Mike Rizzo to be the vice president of baseball operations, second in charge under general manager Jim Bowden.

As for their farm system, the Nationals had a lot of work to do. By the spring of 2007, Baseball America had ranked the Nationals organization as dead last twice in four years in terms of minor league talent.

They pressed journeymen Mike Bacsik, Micah Bowie (a relief pitcher), Tim Redding, and Jason Simontacchi, along with rookie reliever Levale Speigner into the starting rotation, amidst predictions that the 2007 Nationals might equal the 1962 Mets' record of futility of 120 losses in one season.. The Nationals were also able to top the worst record in the American League set by the 2003 Detroit Tigers season of 43 wins and 119 losses during the same predictions on the season. But the Nationals bounced back, going 24-18 in their next 42 games through June 25. But on that day, a day in which Bergman made his first start off the DL, the Nationals received the news that shortstop Cristian Guzman, their leadoff hitter (and second on the team with a .329 batting average) was lost for the rest of the season due to a thumb injury he received the day before tagging out a runner.

The Nationals finished the 2007 season 73–89, improving their record by two more wins than in 2006. In September, the Nationals won five out of six games with the New York Mets, contributing to the Mets' collapse out of first place.

With the exception of 42, retired for all MLB teams to honor Jackie Robinson, the Nationals have no retired numbers. The Montreal Expos retired the number 8 for Gary Carter, the number 10 for both Rusty Staub and Andre Dawson, and the number 30 for Tim Raines. The Nationals returned these numbers to circulation: In the 2006 season, number 8 was worn by second baseman Marlon Anderson and was worn by Aaron Boone, number 10 was formerly worn by shortstop Royce Clayton and catcher Brandon Harper and is currently worn by infielder Ronnie Belliard, and number 30 was worn by reliever Mike Stanton and currently belongs to pitcher Chris Booker. The retired numbers for the Expos are now displayed at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, home of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League.

RFK Stadium had a series of banners displaying a Washington Hall of Stars above its right-field fence. A newer version hangs on the facing of one of the parking garages near the center-field entrance to Nationals Park.

Sievers (the second time around), Hinton and Howard played for the "New Senators" who became the Rangers; Vernon, Yost and Hodges managed the new Senators and Selkirk was an executive for the second franchise. All others either played for or managed the "Old Senators" who became the Twins. Neither the Twins nor the Rangers ever retired any numbers while they were the Washington Senators, nor have they so honored any former Senators since their moves, with the exception of Harmon Killebrew, whose number 3 was retired by the Twins on his election to the Hall of Fame.

Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard are also listed on the Hall of Stars banner, honoring their contributions playing for the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues. Both are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, as are Johnson, Griffith, Goslin, Cronin, Wynn and Killebrew.

These statistics are current as of September 30, 2008. Bold denotes a playoff season, pennant or championship; italics denote an active season.

What follows are the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos team records.

The Nationals' flagship radio station is WFED, "Federal News Radio" at 1500 & 820 AM, which is owned by Bonneville International. Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler are the play-by-play announcers.

Nationals' telecasts are predominantly on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), with a handful of games simulcast on WDCW, "DC50." Bob Carpenter is the TV play-by-play announcer while Rob Dibble is the new color analyst.

The team has struggled to attract fans with attendance averaging in the middle of the league in the team's second year in Washington. Local TV ratings have declined to the lowest in the league by a significant margin.

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United States Congress

The United States Capitol

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, consisting of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election.

Each of the 435 members of the House of Representatives represents a district and serves a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population. The 100 Senators serve staggered six-year terms. Each state has two senators, regardless of population. Every two years, approximately one-third of the Senate is elected.

Article I of the Constitution vests all legislative power in the Congress. The House and Senate are equal partners in the legislative process (legislation cannot be enacted without the consent of both chambers); however, the Constitution grants each chamber some unique powers. The Senate is uniquely empowered to ratify treaties and to approve top presidential appointments. Revenue-raising bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which also has the sole power of impeachment, while the Senate has the sole power to try impeachment cases.

The Congress meets in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The term Congress is also used to refer to a particular meeting of the national legislature, reckoned according to the terms of representatives. Therefore, a "Congress" covers two years. The current 111th Congress met on January 6, 2009.

The Congress of the United States has its roots in the First Continental Congress, a meeting of representatives of twelve of the thirteen British Colonies in North America which two years later declared independence. On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, referring to the new nation as the "United States of America".

Under the Articles of Confederation, which came into effect in 1781, the Congress of the Confederation was a unicameral body with equal representation among the states in which each state had a veto over most decisions. With no executive or judicial branch, and minimal authority given to the Congress, this government was weak compared to the states. The Congress of the Confederation had authority over foreign affairs and military matters, but not to collect taxes, regulate interstate commerce, or enforce laws. States remained sovereign, and were thus free to ignore any legislation passed by Congress. This system of government led to economic troubles in the states and disputes among the states.

The ineffectiveness of the federal government under the Articles of Confederation led the Congress to summon the Convention of 1787. Originally intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, it instead wrote a completely new constitution. Virginia delegate James Madison called for a bicameral Congress in his Virginia Plan: the lower house elected directly by the people, and the upper house elected by the lower house. The smaller states, however, favored a unicameral Congress with equal representation for all states; William Paterson countered Madison's proposals with the New Jersey Plan. Eventually, a compromise was reached: the House of Representatives was to provide representation proportional by population, whereas the Senate would provide equal representation by states. In order to preserve further the authority of the states, it was provided that state legislatures, rather than the people, would elect senators.

The Constitution gave more powers to the federal government, such as regulating interstate commerce, managing foreign affairs and the military, and establishing a national currency. These were seen as essential for the success of the new nation and resolve the disputes that had arisen under the Articles of Confederation, but the states retained sovereignty over other affairs. To protect against abuse of power at the federal level, the Constitution mandated separation of powers, with responsibilities divided among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Furthermore, the legislative body would be bicameral, so there would be checks and balances. The Constitution was ratified by the end of 1788, and its full implementation was set for March 4, 1789.

The post-Civil War Gilded Age was marked by Republican dominance of the Congress. The Progressive Era saw the Seventeenth Amendment (ratified in 1913), which provided for the direct election of senators. The early 20th century witnessed the rise of strong party leadership in both houses of Congress. In the House of Representatives, the office of Speaker became extremely powerful. Leaders in the Senate were somewhat less powerful; individual senators still retained much of their influence. After the revolt against Speaker Joe Cannon in 1910, the seniority system emerged. Members became powerful chairmen through years of seniority, regardless of the leadership. Committee chairmen remained particularly strong in both houses until the reforms of the 1970s and 1990s.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's election as President in 1932 marked a shift in power towards the presidency. Numerous New Deal initiatives were proposed from the White House and sent to Congress for approval, rather than legislation originating in Congress. After the Watergate scandal and other abuses of power by the Nixon administration, Congress began to reassert its power to oversee the executive branch and develop legislation.

During the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–45), the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress. The Republicans won control of both houses in the 1946 elections, only to lose them in 1948; with Dwight D. Eisenhower's election to the presidency in 1952, the Republicans again won both houses. However, after the Democratic Party again won back control in the elections of 1954, it was the majority party in both houses of Congress for most of the next 40 years; the Republicans were only able to win control of the Senate for a six-year period (1981–87). The Republicans won a majority position in both houses of Congress in the elections of 1994. The Republicans controlled both houses until 2006, except the Senate for most of 2001 and 2002, when the Democrats had the majority after Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party to become an independent and caucus with the Democrats. In 2006, the Democratic Party regained control of the House of Representatives, and the results of the Senate elections yielded a Senate makeup of 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and two independents. In the 110th Congress (2007–08), the Democratic voting bloc had a 51-49 majority in the Senate because the two independents, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, aligned themselves with the Democratic Party. As of January 2009, the Democratic Party has the majority in both houses, with a Democratic president.

Article I of the Constitution sets forth most of the powers of Congress, which include numerous explicit powers enumerated in Section 8. Constitutional amendments have granted Congress additional powers. Congress also has implied powers derived from the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution.

Congress has authority over financial and budgetary matters, through the enumurated power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. The Sixteenth Amendment extended power of taxation to include income taxes. The Constitution also grants Congress exclusively the power to appropriate funds. This power of the purse is one of Congress' primary checks on the executive branch. Other powers granted to Congress include the authority to borrow money on the credit of the United States, regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states, and coin money.

The Constitution also gives Congress an important role in national defense, including the exclusive power to declare war, to raise and maintain the armed forces, and to make rules for the military. Congress also has the power to establish post offices and post roads, issue patents and copyrights, fix standards of weights and measures, establish courts inferior to the Supreme Court, and "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." Congress also has the power to admit new states to the Union (Article Four).

One of the foremost non-legislative functions of the Congress is the power to investigate and to oversee the executive branch. Congressional oversight is usually delegated to committees and is facilitated by Congress' subpoena power. Congress also has the exclusive power of removal, allowing impeachment and removal of the President, federal judges and other federal officers.

Other congressional powers have been granted, or confirmed, by constitutional amendments. The Thirteenth (1865), Fourteenth (1868), and Fifteenth Amendments (1870) gave Congress authority to enact legislation in order to enforce rights of African Americans, including voting rights, due process, and equal protection under the law.

Congress also has implied powers, which are derived from the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution and permit Congress "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." Broad interpretations of this clause and of the Commerce Clause, the enumerated power to regulate commerce, have effectively widened the scope of Congress' legislative authority far beyond that prescribed in Section 8.

The Constitution provides checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government. The authors of the Constitution expected the greater power to lie with Congress and it has been theorized that that is one reason they are described in Article One.

The influence of Congress on the presidency has varied from one period to another; the degree of power depending largely on the leadership of the Congress, political influence by the president, or other members of congress and the boldness of the president's initiatives. Under the first half-dozen presidents, power seems to have been evenly divided between the president and Congress, in part because early presidents largely restricted their vetoes to bills that were unconstitutional.

The impeachment of Andrew Johnson made the presidency much less powerful than Congress. During the late nineteenth century, President Grover Cleveland aggressively attempted to restore the executive branch's power, vetoing over 400 bills during his first term. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have seen the rise of the power of the Presidency under Theodore Roosevelt (1901–09), Woodrow Wilson (1913–21), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–45), Richard Nixon (1969–74), Ronald Reagan (1981–89), and George W. Bush (2001–09) (see Imperial Presidency). In recent years, Congress has restricted the powers of the President with laws such as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and the War Powers Resolution; nevertheless, the Presidency remains considerably more powerful than during the nineteenth century.

The Constitution concentrates removal powers in the Congress by empowering and obligating the House of Representatives to impeach federal officials (both executive and judicial) for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." The Senate is constitutionally empowered and obligated to try all impeachments. A simple majority in the House is required to impeach an official; however, a two-thirds majority in the Senate is required for conviction. A convicted official is automatically removed from office; in addition, the Senate may stipulate that the defendant be banned from holding office in the future.

Impeachment proceedings may not inflict more than this; however, the party may face criminal penalties in a normal court of law. In the history of the United States, the House of Representatives has impeached sixteen officials, of whom seven were convicted. (Another resigned before the Senate could complete the trial). Only two Presidents of the United States have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. Both trials ended in acquittal; in Johnson's case, the Senate fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction. In 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from office after impeachment proceedings in the House Judiciary Committee indicated he would eventually be removed from office.

The Constitution entrusts certain powers to the Senate alone. The President may only nominate for appointment Cabinet officials, judges, and other high officers with the "by and with the advice and consent" of the Senate. The Senate confirms most presidential nominees, but rejections are not uncommon. Furthermore, treaties negotiated by the President must be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to take effect. The House of Representatives has no formal role in either the ratification of treaties or the appointment of federal officials, other than filling vacancies in the office of Vice-President.

In 1803, the Supreme Court established judicial review of federal legislation in Marbury v. Madison, holding, however, that Congress could not grant unconstitutional power to the Court itself. The Constitution does not explicitly state that the courts may exercise judicial review; however, the notion that courts could declare laws unconstitutional was envisioned by the founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton, for example, mentioned and expounded upon the doctrine in Federalist No. 78. Originalists on the Supreme Court have argued that if the constitution doesn't say something explicitly it is unconstitutional to infer what it should, might or could have said.

Investigations are conducted to gather information on the need for future legislation, to test the effectiveness of laws already passed, and to inquire into the qualifications and performance of members and officials of the other branches. Committees may hold hearings, and, if necessary, compel individuals to testify by issuing subpoenas. Witnesses who refuse to testify may be cited for contempt of Congress, and those who testify falsely may be charged with perjury. Most committee hearings are open to the public (the House and Senate intelligence committees are the exception); important hearings are widely reported in the mass media.

The House of Representatives elects a Speaker to preside over debates. The President pro tempore of the Senate, by contrast, holds office continuously; normally, a new President pro tempore is only elected if the previous one retires, or if there is a change in the majority party.

The Constitution forbids either house from meeting any place outside the Capitol, or from adjourning for more than three days, without the consent of the other house. The provision was intended to prevent one house from thwarting legislative business simply by refusing to meet. To avoid obtaining consent during long recesses, the House or Senate may sometimes hold pro forma meetings, sometimes only minutes long, every three days. The consent of both bodies is required for Congress's final adjournment, or adjournment sine die, at the end of each congressional session. If the two houses cannot agree on a date, the Constitution permits the President to settle the dispute.

Joint Sessions of the United States Congress occur on special occasions that require a concurrent resolution from both House and Senate. These sessions include the counting of electoral votes following a Presidential election and the President's State of the Union address. Other meetings of both House and Senate are called Joint Meetings of Congress, held after unanimous consent agreements to recess and meet. Meetings of Congress for Presidential Inaugurations may also be Joint Sessions, if both House and Senate are in session at the time, otherwise they are formal joint gatherings.

At some time during the first two months of each session, the President customarily delivers the State of the Union Address, a speech in which he assesses the situation of the country and outlines his legislative proposals for the congressional session. The speech is modeled on the Speech from the Throne given by the British monarch, and is mandated by the Constitution of the United States—though it is not necessarily required to be delivered each year or in the customary manner. Thomas Jefferson discontinued the original practice of delivering the speech in person before both houses of Congress, deeming it too monarchical. Instead, Jefferson and his successors sent a written message to Congress each year. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson reestablished the practice of personally attending to deliver the speech; few Presidents have deviated from this custom since.

Joint Sessions and Joint Meetings are traditionally presided over by the Speaker of the House except for the joint session to count electoral votes for President, when the Constitution requires the President of the Senate (the Vice President of the United States) to preside.

A proposal may be introduced in Congress as a bill, a joint resolution, a concurrent resolution, or a simple resolution. Most legislative proposals are introduced as bills, but some are introduced as joint resolutions. There is little practical difference between the two, except that joint resolutions may include preambles but bills may not. Joint resolutions are the normal method used to propose a constitutional amendment or to declare war. On the other hand, concurrent resolutions (passed by both houses) and simple resolutions (passed by only one house) do not have the force of law. Instead, they serve to express the opinion of Congress, or to regulate procedure.

Members of Congress often introduce legislation at the behest of lobbyists. Lobbyists advocate the passage (or rejection) of bills affecting the interest of a particular group (such as a corporation or a labor union). In many cases, the lobbyists write legislation and submit it to a member for introduction. Congressional lobbyists are legally required to be registered in a central database, and are employed by political organizations, corporations, state governments, foreign governments, and numerous other groups. In 2005, there are almost 35,000 registered Congressional lobbyists, representing a doubling since 2000. Some of the most prominent lobbyists are ex-members of Congress, others are family members of sitting members. As an example, Harry Reid, Dennis Hastert, former Representative Tom DeLay, and Roy Blunt all have immediate family members who are (or were) lobbyists.

Bills (and other proposals) may be introduced by any member of either house. However, the Constitution provides that: "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." As a result, the Senate does not have the power to initiate bills imposing taxes. Furthermore, the House of Representatives holds that the Senate does not have the power to originate appropriation bills, or bills authorizing the expenditure of federal funds. Historically, the Senate has disputed the interpretation advocated by the House. However, whenever the Senate originates an appropriations bill, the House simply refuses to consider it, thereby settling the dispute in practice. Nevertheless, while the Senate cannot originate revenue and appropriation bills, it does retain the power to amend or reject them.

Each bill goes through several stages in each house. The first stage involves consideration by a committee. Most legislation is considered by standing committees, each of which has jurisdiction over a particular subject matter, such as Agriculture or Appropriations. The House has twenty standing committees; the Senate has sixteen. In some cases, bills may be sent to select committees, which tend to have more narrow jurisdictions than standing committees. Each standing and select committee is led by a chair (who belongs to the majority party) and a ranking member (who belongs to the minority party). Committees are permitted to hold hearings and collect evidence when considering bills. They may also amend the bill, but the full house holds the power to accept or reject committee amendments. After considering and debating a measure, the committee votes on whether it wishes to report the measure to the full house.

A decision not to report a bill amounts to a rejection of the proposal. Both houses provide for procedures under which the committee can be bypassed or overruled, but they are rarely used. If reported by the committee, the bill reaches the floor of the full house. The house may debate and amend the bill; the precise procedures used by the House of Representatives and the Senate differ. A final vote on the bill follows.

Once a bill is approved by one house, it is sent to the other, which may pass, reject, or amend it. In order for the bill to become law, both houses must agree to identical versions of the bill. If the second house amends the bill, then the differences between the two versions must be reconciled in a conference committee, an ad hoc committee that includes both senators and representatives. In many cases, conference committees have introduced substantial changes to bills and added unrequested spending, significantly departing from both the House and Senate versions. President Ronald Reagan once quipped, "If an orange and an apple went into conference consultations, it might come out a pear." If both houses agree to the version reported by the conference committee, the bill passes; otherwise, it fails.

After passage by both houses, a bill is submitted to the President. The President may choose to sign the bill, thereby making it law. The President may also choose to veto the bill, returning it to Congress with his objections. In such a case, the bill only becomes law if each house of Congress votes to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. Finally, the President may choose to take no action, neither signing nor vetoing the bill. In such a case, the Constitution states that the bill automatically becomes law after ten days, excluding Sundays. However, if Congress adjourns (ends a legislative session) during the ten day period, then the bill does not become law. Thus, the President may veto legislation passed at the end of a congressional session simply by ignoring it; the maneuver is known as a pocket veto, and cannot be overridden by the adjourned Congress.

The Constitution specifies that a majority of members constitutes a quorum to do business in each house. The rules of each house provide that a quorum is assumed to be present unless a quorum call demonstrates the contrary. Representatives and senators rarely force the presence of a quorum by demanding quorum calls; thus, in most cases, debates continue even if a majority is not present.

Both houses use voice voting to decide most matters; members shout out "aye" or "no," and the presiding officer announces the result. The Constitution, however, requires a recorded vote on the demand of one-fifth of the members present. If the result of the voice vote is unclear, or if the matter is controversial, a recorded vote usually ensues. The Senate uses roll call votes; a clerk calls out the names of all the senators, each senator stating "aye" or "no" when his or her name is announced. The House reserves roll call votes for the most formal matters, as a roll-call of all 435 representatives takes quite some time; normally, members vote by electronic device. In the case of a tie, the motion in question fails. In the Senate, the Vice President may (if present) cast the tiebreaking vote.

It is neither expected nor possible that a member of Congress be an expert on all matters and subject areas that come before Congress. Congressional committees provide invaluable informational services to Congress by investigating and reporting back in regard to specialized subject matter.

While this investigatory function is indispensable to Congress, procedures such as the House discharge petition process (the process of bringing a bill onto the floor without a committee report or mandatory consent from its leadership) are so difficult to implement that committee jurisdiction over particular subject matter of bills has expanded into semi-autonomous power. Of the 73 discharge petitions submitted to the full House from 1995 through 2007, only one was successful in securing an definitive yea-or-nay vote for a bill on the floor of the House of Representatives. Not without reason have congressional committees been called independent fiefdoms.

In 1931 a reform movement did temporarily reduce the number of signatures required on discharge petitions in the U.S. House of Representatives from a constitutional majority of 218 down to 145, i.e. from one-half to one-third of the House membership. This reform was abolished in a 1935 counterattack led by the intra-House oligarchy. Thus the era of the Great Depression marks the last across-the-board change, albeit a short-lived one, in the autonomy of House standing committees. On strategy for an enduring reform in the system of semi-autonomous committees see the citation.

In the course of committee work, members will often develop personal expertise on the matters under the jurisdiction of their respective committee(s). Such expertise, or claims thereof, are invariably cited during disputes over whether the parent body should bow to obdurate committee negatives.

Congress divides its legislative, oversight, and internal administrative tasks among approximately 200 committees and subcommittees. Within assigned areas, these functional sub-units gather information, compare and evaluate legislative alternatives, identify policy problems and propose solutions, select, determine, and report measures for full chamber consideration, monitor executive branch performance (oversight), and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

Decision on which areas individual members choose to specialize may be influenced by their constituency and regional issues of importance to them, as well as prior background and experience of the member. Senators will also try to differentiate themselves from the other senator from the same state, so that areas of specialization do not overlap.

A major aspect of the job for a Senator and a Congressman consists of services to his or her constituency. Members receive thousands of letters, phone calls, and e-mails, with some expressing opinion on an issue, or displeasure with a member's position or vote. Other constituents request help with problems, or ask questions. Members of Congress want to leave a positive impression on the constituent, rather than leave them disgruntled. Thus, their offices will be responsive, and go out of their way to help steer the citizen through the intricacies of the bureaucracy. Here the Congressman and his staffers perform the function of an Ombudsman, at the Federal level. This unofficial job has become increasingly time consuming, and has significantly reduced the time that Congressmen have for the preparation or inspection of bills.

It is noteworthy that an incumbent member of Congress has considerably more clout than most official ombudsmen at the state level, and in other countries, given the appointive and relatively diminutive character of such offices. As Morris Fiorina notes, the involvement of the legislative branch in the ombudsman process carries one major advantage: members of Congress exercise "control over what bureaucrats value most – higher budgets and new program authorizations." This kind of leverage over the bureaucracy is a potent tool that appointed ombudsmen lack.

Accordingly, to improve on today's 435 de facto ombudsmen—constituent services by overworked Congressmen—congressional reforms have been proposed that would approximate the legislative leverage now exercised by Congressmen, but in an office where the intra-bureaucratic troubleshooting duties are full time. Along these lines, some Congressmen themselves have suggested that each congressional district should elect a second U.S. Representative to handle constituent services.

Under the Constitution, members of both houses enjoy the privilege of being free from arrest in all cases, except for treason, felony, and breach of the peace. This immunity applies to members during sessions and when traveling to and from sessions. The term "arrest" has been interpreted broadly, and includes any detention or delay in the course of law enforcement, including court summons and subpoenas. The rules of the House strictly guard this privilege; a member may not waive the privilege on his or her own, but must seek the permission of the whole house to do so. Senate rules, on the other hand, are less strict, and permit individual senators to waive the privilege as they see fit.

The Constitution also guarantees absolute freedom of debate in both houses, providing, "for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place." Hence, a member of Congress may not be sued for slander because of remarks made in either house. However, each house has its own rules restricting offensive speeches, and may punish members who transgress them.

Obstructing the work of Congress is a crime under federal law, and is known as contempt of Congress. Each house of Congress has the power to cite individuals for contempt, but may not impose any punishment. Instead, after a house issues a contempt citation, the judicial system pursues the matter like a normal criminal case. If convicted in court, an individual found guilty of contempt of Congress may be imprisoned for up to one year.

From 1789 to 1815, members of Congress received only a per diem (daily payment) of $6 while in session. Members began receiving an annual salary in 1815, when they were paid $1,500 per year.

As of 2006, rank-and-file members of Congress received a yearly salary of $165,200. Congressional leaders are paid $183,500 per year. The Speaker of the House of Representatives earns $212,100 per annum. The salary of the President pro tempore for 2006 is $183,500, equal to that of the majority and minority leader of the House and Senate.

Members elected since 1984 are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Those elected prior to 1984 were covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). In 1984 all members were given the option of remaining with CSRS or switching for FERS. As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants' contributions. Members of Congress under FERS contribute 1.3% of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2% of their salary in Social Security taxes.

The amount of a Congressperson's pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member's retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary. In 2006, the average annual pension for retired senators and representatives under CSRS was $60,972, while those who retired under FERS, or in combination with CSRS, was $35,952.

Another privilege is the use of the Library of Congress. One of the Library's missions is to serve the Congress and its staff. To do this, the Congressional Research Service provides detailed, up-to-date and non-partisan research for senators, representatives, and their staff to help them carry out their official duties. The franking privilege allows members of Congress to send official mail to constituents at government expense. Though they are not permitted to send election materials, borderline material is often sent, especially in the run-up to an election by those in close races.

A legislator in either house is a "member of Congress," though usually only representatives are referred to in speech as a congressman, congresswoman, or congressperson, as senators are almost universally referred to as senators.

Many of the world's democracies and republics operate not within a congressional model of government, but rather a parliamentary system. The most significant difference between a parliamentary government and the U.S. Congress is that a parliament typically encompasses the entire governmental regime, containing legislative, executive, and judicial branches within its structure (the executive organs are often referred to as "The Government"), as well as the monarch, if one exists. The U.S. Congress exercises only legislative powers, and is but one of three co-equal and independent branches of the larger federal government.

In a parliament, the executive branch of the government is chosen from or by the representative branch. This generally comprises the prime minister and the governing cabinet. Congressional leaders merely administrate the daily business of Congress itself, while it is in session, and not the functioning of the national government as a whole. So, while in structure the Speaker of the House of Representatives resembles a prime minister, in substance and practice he or she only moderates the functioning of the U.S. Congress, while the wholly separate executive branch of government administrates the daily functioning of the federal government. In the U.S. Congress, legislation originates within the legislative branch, whereas in a parliamentary system, legislation is drafted by the government in power and then sent to parliament for debate and ratification.

Members of the U.S. Congress are generally elected from one of two parties, but its members are free to vote their own conscience or that of their constituents. Many members can and do cross party lines frequently. In a parliamentary system, members may be compelled to vote with their party's bloc, and those who vote against are often cast out of their respective parliamentary parties and become less influential independents. Theoretically, the lack of superpowerful political parties allows U.S. members to more faithfully represent their constituents than members of parliament can—a member is ultimately responsible to their constituents alone, not to their party. Additionally, as Congress does not wield executive power, dissenting votes from the majority party cannot result in the collapse of the ruling Government and new elections, as occasionally happens in parliamentary systems. Conversely, the congressional system also allows for a larger role for extra-governmental actors such as lobbyists, as the lack of strong party whips present in parliamentary systems exposes members of Congress to greater outside influence.

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Source : Wikipedia