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Washington National Cathedral

Massachusetts & Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

Attractions>Sight



The idea for a national cathedral is as old as Washington itself. In 1791, when Congress selected the site to be the capital of the United States, President George Washington commissioned Major Pierre l'Enfant to design an overall plan for the future seat of government. The cornerstone of the Cathedral was laid in 1907, and the final finial was set in place in 1990. The Cathedral was built and is operated solely on the support of private donations. The Cathedral receives no support from the federal government or any national church. Officially named the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Cathedral serves as three-fold mission: 1) A National House of Prayer for All People, 2) A Great Church for National Purposes, 3) The Chief Mission Church of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Washington National Cathedral is operated by the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation (PECF). The Cathedral continues to be a place of national focus. It was the site of President George W. Bush’s Inaugural Prayer Service and later the National Prayer and Remembrance service on September 14, 2001. On December 25, 2002 the Cathedral broadcast its fiftieth national Christmas service.


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Because the city was built from scratch, Washington's regular town plan is easy to grasp. Centered on Capitol Hill and its governmental monoliths, the District is divided into four quadrants - northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest. Dozens of broad avenues , all named after states, run diagonally across a standard grid of streets , meeting up at monumental traffic circles like Dupont Circle. North-south streets are numbered, east-west ones are lettered. There's no J Street, an intentional slight to early Supreme Court Justice John Jay, or X, Y or Z Street. I Street is often written Eye Street. Be sure to note the relevant two-letter code in any address (NW, NE, SW, SE), which shows its quadrant; 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW is a long way from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave SE.

Once in the city, stop at the DC Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center , Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Mon-Sat 8am-6pm, Sun noon-5pm; tel 202/328-4748), which can help with maps, tours, bookings and citywide information. Look for visitor information desks at the airports and Union Station. The White House Visitor Information Center , 1450 Pennsylvania Ave NW (daily 7.30am-4pm; tel 202/208-1631), supplies free maps and handy guides to museums and attractions; the most useful is the free Washington DC Visitors Guide .

 
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Popular Attractions
US Capitol Building
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Smithsonian Air-Space Museum
Lincoln Memorial
National Mall
Arlington National Cemetery
Mount Vernon Estate
Washington Monument

Featured Hotels
 •
L'enfant Plaza Hotel
   Walk (.4 mi) to Smithsonian
 • Sofitel Lafayette Sq.
   Bold interiors/unstuffy appeal,
   close to White House
 • The Churchill Hotel
   Historic character, 3 blocks to
   DuPont Circle




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