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Landmarks of Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is the capital of the United States and home to many of the country's most famous and recognizable landmarks. Follow this slideshow to learn more about some of the capital city's notable sites.
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Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Washington Monument
Completed in 1884, the Washington Monument is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Washington, D.C. The monument stands just over 555 feet, allowing visitors who make the ascent to enjoy views of up to 40 miles on a clear day. Shaped like an Egyptian obelisk, the Washington Monument is made of marble, granite, and sandstone. It was built to honor George Washington, the first president of the United States.

Fun Fact: The Washington Monument is the tallest stone structure in the world.

Carol M. Highsmith, a distinguished and widely published American photographer, began donating her work to the Library of Congress in 1992. The Carol M. Highsmith archive at the Library of Congress includes photos from each of the United States and is expected to eventually contain 100,000 photos. Professionally printed and framed prints of these photos are available at PhotographsAmerica.com.

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Jefferson Memorial
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is located in the East Potomac Park. Twenty-six columns surround the domed, white-marble structure. The memorial was the brainchild of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who believed Thomas Jefferson deserved a memorial, along with Washington and Lincoln. Construction began in 1938 and was finished in 1943.

Fun Fact: The 19-foot-tall bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson weighs five tons (10,000 pounds).

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial was completed in 1917. Inspired by the designs of Greek temples, there are 36 columns representing the number of states in the union at the time of Lincoln's death. Two murals by Jules Guerin and the famous seated statue of Abraham Lincoln are found inside the building.

Fun Fact: The statue of Lincoln was carved from 28 blocks of white Georgia marble.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Simply called "The Wall," this highly polished black granite national shrine features the names of 58,202 Americans killed or missing during the Vietnam War. Designed by American sculptor and architect Maya Ying Lin, the V-shaped wall is 493 feet long. It is one of the most visited memorials in DC.

Fun Fact: Maya Lin was still an undergraduate at Yale University when she won the national design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial
Although officially a part of DC, this island memorial can only be accessed from the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was a naturalist. During his administration, he created the U.S. Forest Service and adopted many national parks and forests that total 42 million acres of conserved land. In honor of his efforts toward conservation, Roosevelt's memorial is an island nature reserve. Nearly 90 acres of forest, marsh, and swamp are open daily to the public. No cars are allowed. A 17-foot-tall statue of Teddy Roosevelt stands on the island, surrounded by granite tablets that display his most memorable quotes.

Fun Fact: Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to receive a Nobel Prize.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Albert Einstein Memorial
Albert Einstein Memorial
A 21-foot-tall statue of Albert Einstein sits near the National Academy of Sciences. The memorial was dedicated on April 22, 1979, in honor of the centennial of his birth. A star map set in granite at the statue's feet shows the position of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars on the date of the memorial's dedication. In the statue's left hand is a piece of paper showing three significant mathematical equations: the photoelectric effect, the theory of general relativity, and equivalence of energy and matter.

Fun Fact: Albert Einstein was named "Person of the Century" by Time magazine in 1999.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
The FDR Memorial honors the 32nd President of the United States and the era from 1933 to 1945. Divided into four outdoor rooms, each represents one of FDR's terms in office. This image represents the Great Depression. The inscription at the top of this room reads "I SEE ONE-THIRD OF A NATION ILL-HOUSED, ILL-CLAD, ILL-NOURISHED."

Fun Fact: One of the memorial's statues depicts Fala, FDR's faithful Scottish terrier.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Nineteen soldiers, each standing over seven feet tall, form the centerpiece of the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Juniper bushes evoke the rough terrain of Korea, and the granite strips represent the obstacles overcome in war. Surrounding the soldiers is a wall of black granite with thousands of faces looking straight out over the platoon. This memorial opened in 1995 in honor of the veterans who fought in the Korean War (1950-1953).

Fun Fact: South Korea's national flower, the Rose of Sharon hibiscus plant, can be found on the southern side of the memorial.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
National World War II Memorial
The National World War II Memorial opened in 2004 in honor of the 16 million men and women who served, and the more than 400,000 who died fighting. Fifty-six granite pillars - one for each state, territory, and the District of Columbia - are connected by bronze rope to symbolize unity. Each pillar is adorned by two bronze wreaths, reflecting "America's role as the arsenal and breadbasket of democracy."

Fun Fact: Each of the 4,048 gold stars on the Freedom Wall represents 100 Americans who died in World War II.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Smithsonian Institute
The Smithsonian Institute, also called "the nation's attic," is the largest museum in the world. It is vast, comprising 17 museums and the National Zoo in DC, and two museums in New York City. In 1829, James Smithson of London died and bequeathed his fortune to the people of the United States to create a research and educational institution. The Smithsonian Institute was officially founded in 1846, with the first museum opening that year. Pictured is "The Castle," the first building of the institute and now the Smithsonian Information Center.

Fun Fact: $508,318 is the amount of money Smithson left to the United States in 1829.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
White House
The White House is the official residence of the president of the United States and the oldest public building in Washington, D.C. Much of the White House was destroyed in the War of 1812. Later, when the building was being restored, the smoke-stained gray stone walls were painted white. Six levels with 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms accommodate all the people who live, work, and visit the White House. Approximately 6,000 people visit the White House each day.

Fun Fact: Other names for the White House have been the "Presidential Palace," "Executive Mansion," and the "President's House."

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Supreme Court
In 1935 the Supreme Court finally got a building of its own. Prior to this, the court sat in what is now called the "Old Senate Chamber." The current building stands due to the efforts of William Howard Taft, chief justice of the Supreme Court and former president of the United States, who persuaded Congress to create a permanent home for the Supreme Court in 1929.

Fun Fact: Taft was the only president to go on to serve as the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

Image by Carol M. Highsmith
Capitol Building
For two centuries, the Capitol Building has housed the meeting chambers for the Senate and the House of Representatives. Similar to the White House, the Capitol Building was burned by the British in the War of 1812. Fortunately, a rain storm prevented the fires from completely destroying the building and repairs were already underway by 1815. Today, the Capitol Building is a museum of American art and history in addition to its use by Congress.

Fun Fact: The dome of the Great Rotunda is 180 feet tall, which is also half the length of a football field.

Photo source: Carol M. Highsmith

berthavonsuttner
Bertha von Suttner (1905)
Bertha von Suttner was an Austrian novelist, known chiefly as an ardent pacifist. Her pacifist novel Die Waffen nieder (1889, tr. Lay Down Your Arms, 1892) had great social impact. Through her subsequent friendship with Alfred Nobel, she influenced him to establish the Nobel Prizes. She was the first woman awarded (1905) the Nobel Peace Prize.

Fun Fact: Bertha von Suttner was born Countess Kinsky in Prague, growing up in the Austrian court.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia.

janeaddams
Jane Addams (1931)
Jane Addams was an American social worker. In 1889, with Ellen Gates Starr, she founded Hull House in Chicago, one of the first social settlements in the United States. Hull House served as a community center for the neighborhood poor and later as a center for social reform activities. It was important in Chicago civic affairs and had an influence on the settlement movement throughout the country. An active reformer throughout her career, Jane Addams was a leader in the woman's suffrage and pacifist movements, and was a strong opponent of the Spanish-American War.

Fun Fact: Jane Addams won the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Nicholas Murray Butler.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia.

emilybalch
Emily G. Balch (1946)
Emily G. Balch was an American economist and sociologist. She taught at Wellesley College until her dismissal (1918) for opposing U.S. involvement in World War I. She was the co-founder of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, with Jane Addams, and served as its international secretary from 1919 to 1922.

Fun Fact: Emily Balch shared the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize with John R. Mott.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia.

Mairead Corrigan
Mairead Corrigan (1976)
Mairead Corrigan is an Irish social activist. A volunteer social worker in the Catholic neighborhoods of Belfast, Corrigan saw three of her sister's children killed when a car driven by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist went out of control after being fired on by British troops. Betty Williams, who also witnessed the incident, joined with Corrigan to form the Peace People Organization, a movement of Catholics and Protestants dedicated to ending sectarian fighting in Northern Ireland. For their work, the two women were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.

Fun Fact: Mairead Corrigan holds an Honorary Doctor of Law from Yale University, U.S.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia.

bettywilliams
Betty Williams (1976)
Betty Williams is a Northern Irish peace activist. In August 1976, Williams witnessed the death of three children when a car driven by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist went out of control after being fired on by British troops. She began publicly demonstrating for peace, joining forces with Mairead Corrigan, the aunt of the slain children, soon after the incident. The two created the Peace People Organization, a movement of Catholics and Protestants dedicated to ending sectarian fighting in Northern Ireland. For their work the two women were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.

Fun Fact: Williams has also been honored with the People's Peace Prize of Norway, the Schweitzer Medallion for Courage, the Martin Luther King Jr. Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award, and more.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia. Photo: World Centers of Compassion for Children International.

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1979)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a Roman Catholic missionary in India. Of Albanian parentage, she went to India at age 17, becoming a nun and teaching school in Calcutta (now Kolkata). In 1948 she left the convent and founded the Missionaries of Charity, which now operates schools, hospitals, orphanages, and food centers worldwide. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003. For her work, Mother Teresa won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.

Fun Fact: Mother Teresa was born in Skopje (now in Macedonia) as Agnes Goxha Bojaxhiu.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia. Photo: Archive Photos.

alvamyrdal
Alva Myrdal (1982)
Alva Myrdal was a Swedish sociologist, diplomat, and political leader. She actively participated in the United Nations as head of the department of social welfare and as director of the department of social sciences of UNESCO. After serving as a member of Sweden's parliament, she led Sweden's delegation to the UN Disarmament Conference in Geneva, and was minister of disarmament and church affairs. For her work in the nuclear disarmament movement, she won the 1982 Nobel Peace Prize.

Fun Fact: Alva Myrdal was ambassador to India, Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and Nepal.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia. Photo: Library of Congress.

dawaungsansuukyi
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (1991)
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese political leader. She joined the opposition to U Ne Win and became leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). Her outspoken criticism of the military leaders of Myanmar made her a symbol of popular desire for political freedom and a focus of opposition to the dictatorship. In July 1989 she was placed under house arrest. Awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent struggle, she remained under house arrest until 1995. Nonetheless, she has stayed in Myanmar, continuing to write and speak for her cause.

Fun Fact: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi subsequently was placed in house arrest or detention from September 2000 to May 2002, and again in May 2003.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia. Photo: U.S. Department of State.

rigobertamenchu
Rigoberta Menchú (1992)
Rigoberta Menchú is a Guatemalan social reformer. Of Mayan descent, she and her family were caught in Guatemala's bloody civil war. Protesters against human-rights abuses, her father, mother, and younger brother were killed by Guatamalan soldiers, and in 1981 Menchú fled the country and settled in Mexico. At home and abroad, she has worked to secure and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in her country and to promote intercultural peace. For her efforts, Menchú was awarded the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.

Fun Fact: Menchú became a candidate for the Guatemalan presidency early in 2007.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia. Photo: Freddyballo.

Jody Williams
Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997)
Working with six nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Jody Williams established the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) in 1992. Williams served as founding coordinator of the group, which seeks to ban the use and deployment of antipersonnel landmines and to destroy existing ones. Williams and ICBL realized one of their main goals in Oslo, Norway in September 1997, when 89 nations signed an international treaty banning international landmines. Williams and ICBL were awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

Fun Fact: Before her work with ICBL, Williams oversaw humanitarian relief projects in Central America.

From the Columbia Encyclopedia. Photo: Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

shirinebadi
Shirin Ebadi (2003)
Shirin Ebadin won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work promoting the rights of women and children in her home country of Iran. Ebadi graduated with a law degree from Tehran University. After years of being denied a law license by the Iranian government, Ebadi set up her own legal practice in 1992 and quickly developed a special interest in the rights of women, journalists, and others who lacked power under the Iranian regime. The Nobel Committee praised Ebadi for "her efforts for democracy and human rights" and said, "She has stood up as a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety."

Fun Fact: Ebadi was named Iran's first female judge in 1975. However, she and other female judges were forced to resign when Iran became an Islamic Republic after the revolution of 1979.

From Who2 biographies. Source: CKSinfo.com.

wangarimaathai
Wangari Maathai (2004)
Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her years of work with women to reverse African deforestation. Maathai began the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting program to reverse deforestation and provide firewood for Kenyan women. The program led to the planting of millions of trees, and Maathai became a major political figure in Kenya. She was the first African woman to win a Nobel.

Fun Fact: Maathai went to college in the United States, earning degrees from Mount St. Scholastica College (1964) and the University of Pittsburgh (1966).

From Who2 biographies. Photo: Martin Rowe.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2011)
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2011)

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, sharing it with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. The three women were recognized for their efforts in women's rights, peace-building, and for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women. As President of Liberia, Sirleaf was the first female elected head of state in Africa. From 1979 to 1980 she served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert. In 1992, Sirleaf was the Assistant Administrator and later Director of the United Nations Development Programme's Regional Bureau for Africa. While at the UN, she was one of seven people designated by the Organization of African Unity to investigate the Rwandan genocide.

Fun Fact: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf went to college in the United States. She studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder and obtained a masters degree from Harvard University.

From Who2 biographies. Photo: U.S. State Department / Public Domain.

Leymah Gbowee (2011)
Leymah Gbowee (2011)

Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and their efforts in women's rights and peace-building. Gbowee led a women's peace movement that ended the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. The peace movement also led to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becoming the first female president of Liberia. Gbowee started her journey as a peace activist in 1998 by volunteering at the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program in Monrovia. She used that training to rehabilitate ex-child soldiers who were involved in the Second Liberian Civil War. Gbowee, a mother of four, was inspired by the images of war. She rallied the women of Liberia, imploring them to help her stop the violence that was destroying their children. She became the leader of the Women in Peacebuilding Network.

Fun Fact: Gbowee was the narrator and central character in Pray the Devil Back to Hell, a 2008 documentary film, which included footage from the Second Liberian Civil War. It took Best Documentary Feature at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Gbowee wrote a memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers, which was published in 2011.

From Who2 biographies. Photo: Jon Styer.
Tawakkul Karman (2011)
Tawakkul Karman (2011)

In 2011, Tawakkul Karman became the first Yemeni, first Arab woman, and second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize. She was a co-recipient of the award, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, for their efforts in women's rights, peace-building, and for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women. A journalist, politician, and human rights activist, Karman heads the group Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC). She co-founded WJWC in 2005. She became an advocate for a mobile phone news service after it was denied a license in 2007. She has organized and led numerous protests for freedom of the press and for reform issues. In 2011, she became the public face of the uprising in Yemen.

Fun Fact: Yemenis call her "Mother of the Revolution" and the "Iron Woman." At age 32, she was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

From Who2 biographies. Photo: Matthew Russell Lee.
Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai (2014)

At age 17, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to win a Nobel prize. She was co-recipient of the award, along with Kailash Satyarthi, for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Malala Yousafzai became known as an advocate for girls' schools in 2009, when she wrote for the BBC about life in her hometown under the rule of conservative militants in the Taliban. The Pakistani army launched military operations to drive out the Taliban in 2009, and a documentary film helped Yousafzai became internationally famous as a chronicler of the chaos. While riding on a bus from school in the Swat Valley of Pakistan on October 9, 2012, Yousafzai and three other girls were wounded by two gunmen. The Taliban claimed credit for the shooting and vowed to kill Yousafzai for encouraging western ideas, specifically the education of women. Malala Yousafzai was seriously wounded in the head and neck and airlifted to a British hospital for safety reasons and for specialized treatment. She recovered and became an advocate for education for girls; in 2013, Time magazine put her on its list of the world's most influential people.

Fun Fact: Malala Yousafzai was still a student at the Edgbaston High School for Girls near Birmingham, England when she won the Nobel Prize; The New York Times reported that "she was summoned out of her chemistry class to hear the news".

From Who2 biographies. Photo: Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

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