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. Bushs 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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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 .