Washington, D.C., is a more international city than an American one, housing as it does the scores of embassies and consulates, the headquarters of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the organization of American States, and so on.
And, of course, repeated waves of immigration have made it, if not the melting pot of America, a sizable and simmering one. In 1900 only 7% of the residents had come from other countries; a century later, a fifth were foreign-born. By 2020 it’s estimated that half of Washington’s population will be immigrant. Before 1960 most of the incoming were European; since then, they have been primarily Hispanic and Asian.
The population of Washington, D.C., peaked at more than 800,000 in 1950, making the city the ninth largest in the country; according to the 2013 census estimates, it’s now closer to 650,000 (the entire metropolitan area comprises more than 5,600,000 and is expected to reach 7.4 million by the year 2030). Now the mix is just under 50% African American, about 43% Caucasian, and the rest a variety of Hispanic/Latino, African, and Asian minorities.
Today, early in its third century, D.C. is again at a cultural and architectural crossroads, considering its massive new Mall development plan, expanding public transportation, embracing the suburbs, and balancing national dignity with security barriers. The astounding revitalization of the Pennsylvania Avenue neighborhood and reuse of historical buildings is a belated testament to the vision of Pierre L’Enfant. Destination DC reports the Washington, D.C., area received more than 20.2 million visitors in 2014, and 18.4 million of them were from the United States, while a record number of interna- tional visitors, some 1.9 million, joined them (an increase of 16%). We think you’ll agree, it’s a great place to visit!
And nothing tells a story better than pictures, so join us on a tour of our Nation’s Capital. For in-depth information on where to stay and what to do, consult The Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C. by Eve Zibart, Rene Sklarew, and Len Testa.
About the Authors
Renee Sklarew was raised in the Washington, D.C., area and writes about her hometown for numerous publications, including The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, Northern Virginia Magazine, and VivaTysons Magazine. Renee contributed to Fodor’s Washington DC Guidebook in 2013 and 2014, and she is thrilled to be a part of the Unofficial Guide team so that she may offer readers her insider’s advice about navigating the city from a parent’s point of view.
Len Testa is the coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, The Unofficial Guide: The Color Companion to Walt Disney World, and The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. Len leads the team at TouringPlans.com, the website and research arm of The Unofficial Guides. Len lives in Greensboro, NC.