“Washington is a city of southern efficiency and northern charm.” – John F. Kennedy
Driven by power and planned from the ground up, the District of Columbia feels like a different kind of city because it is a different kind of city. The orderly grid of streets bearing letters and numbers encompassing the District’s four quadrants are crisscrossed at sharp angles by avenues dedicated to each of the 50 states. Parisian-like circles and open squares provide ample spots to take in the ever-changing – if height restricted – views of city life.
Akin to her East Coast urban peers, Washington is a city of neighborhoods – each being founded with their own identity. However, this past decade has brought tremendous change to the city, as a wave of gentrification strips away the familiar, if sometimes worn, commercial strips and neighborhood identities and replaces them with what seems to be endless multifamily apartments and storefronts showcasing national brands. The wealthy have moved in – and have begun to price out longtime Washingtonians. The D.C. of 2015 finds itself as both a place of challenge and opportunity. The winds of change are always blowing here – making it no wonder that the last two Mayors (in a city that had only been granted home rule from Congress in 1968) have lost their bids to fellow Democrats in bids for a second term.
Connecting the compact central city to its far flung suburban commuters, the Washington Metro System ties together a region of several economic nodes. These communities include Virginia’s Rosslyn, Clarendon and Ballston in Arlington County, Alexandria City and Tyson’s Corner in Fairfax County along with Maryland’s Silver Spring and Bethesda in Montgomery County and College Park and Largo in Prince George’s County. Commuter rail, under the banners of MARC and VRE, extends the reach of the metropolitan sphere further out, including stops in West Virginia’s panhandle (over an hour northwest of downtown DC) and halfway to Richmond (over an hour south) Three airports serve the region – BWI Marshall, Dulles and Reagan National – further connecting this seat of American power to the world.