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Introduction to God's Signature Over the Nation's Capital
copyright 1985 by Catherine Millard

     Let us begin at the beginning:

     In 1608 the area which now boasts of the nation's capital, and one of the world's greatest power centers, was discovered by Captain John Smith. George Washington chose this site himself in 1790 for the new federal city. At that time it lay mid-way between the northernmost and southernmost states. A year later, Washington appointed a French engineer by the name of Pierre Charles l'Enfant, who had served under him in the Revolutionary War, to draw up a plan for the new city. This imaginative, avant-garde designer mapped out the streets in a simple, but practical manner. From the Capitol, he numbered the streets running north to south, lettering those which ran from east to west. Broad avenues, bearing the names of the states, run crosswise in a diagonal pattern. The original lands were a gift from the states of Virginia and Maryland. In 1846, however, Virginia took back her portion of land, making the present-day total area of the District of Columbia 69 square miles.

     Letters and notes accompanying l'Enfant's plans show a definite purpose in every aspect of his design. He wrote:

...a street laid out on a dimension proportioned to the greatness with the Capital of a powerful Empire ought to manifest.

     The magnificence of Versailles prompted l'Enfant's grandiose ideas for the young nation's capital. His broadest avenue of 400 feet has now become the grassy expanse separating the northern and southern rows of buildings which comprise the Smithsonian Institution. A unique privilege of excelling the height of the Capitol's dome was granted the Washington Monument. At 555-feet, 5.125-inches, the obelisk serves to salute the father and founder of this nation. October 9, 1888, marked the official inauguration and opening of this monument to the public. An original steam elevator took 15 minutes to reach the top, whereas the present electric one reaches the summit in a mere 70 seconds. A panoramic view of the city can be enjoyed at this elevation in height, with maps and sketches outlining each segment of the capital. Pierre Charles l'Enfant's original plan in operation is thus clearly seen. >From this vantage point, a perfect cross can be traced over the Capital city, with the White House to the north; the Jefferson Memorial to the south; the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west. An aluminum cap atop the monument shouts out its own song of praise and worship to our God and Father. An inscription upon it bears the Latin words, Laus Deo, that is to say: "Praise be to God!"

     In 1800, the government moved from Philadelphia to Washington with its 126 workers, 32 Senators and 106 Representatives. Before the move, eight other capitals had been evidenced as follows: Albany, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, York, Princeton, Annapolis and Trenton.



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