You probably learned in grade school that Washington, D.C., is home to the White House and runs along the Potomac River, but did you know the nation’s capital was built on a swamp? There are many little-known stats and facts about the city that swells with tourists each year.
- The National Cathedral has several gargoyles, but one of them is particularly out of this world. The iconic building features a Darth Vader gargoyle in its northwest tower. Vader was selected in a design-a-carving competition in the 1980s.
- D.C. is home to the only public spy museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to espionage, with many artifacts on public display for the first time. The International Spy Museum illuminates the work of famous spies and brings to life the strategies and techniques of some of the people behind the most secret espionage missions in world history.
- The city is missing “J” Street. Although there are many theories surrounding this omission, the likely mundane reason is because the letters “I” and “J” were often indistinguishable from each other when handwritten.
- Dogs aren’t the only pets to live in the White House. Both Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams had pet alligators in the White House.
- The cherry trees that line the Tidal Basin were a gift from Japan in the early 20th century. Each spring, the National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the two country’s friendship.
- The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 838 miles of bookshelves. Its collections include more than 38 million books and other printed materials, 14.8 million photographs and 8.1 million pieces of sheet music.
- There are 45 performing arts/theatre venues with more than 27,000 total seats.
- D.C. is also home to four major sporting event venues with 185,000 total seats and eight major professional teams, including the Redskins, Wizards, Mystics, Nationals, Capitals and D.C. United.
- All roads in the city lead to the Capitol Building. Architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed the city on quadrants and letters, with the Capitol at the center of it all despite not being the geographic center of the city.
- In 2016, D.C. hosted 1,027 conventions, meetings and tradeshows, including 57 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. These meetings attracted nearly 1 million attendees.
D.C. by the Numbers
- 8 monuments on the National Mall, with scores around the city
- 19.4 percent of the city is park land
- 23 neighborhoods divide the city
- 22 million total visitors per year
- 693,972 people live in the city