There are towns in the United States which differ from the usual metropolis become famous with some Hollywood movie, filled with skyscraper and busy employees, lines of homes surrounded by gardens, highways packed with cars.
Among such towns the most popular one is no less than Washington DC, where I live. Although it isn’t older than many other towns on the East Coast, Washington DC preserved its historical traits, becoming a unique example in the country.
The maximum hight for buildings was set by a law in 1910 which is still applied and prevents the construction of skyscrapers which would hardly fit in the town’s urban context. Even the areas surrounding the original core adapted to the law and the resulting sight is definitely a pleasant one.
The most ancient part of Washington DC is Georgetown, founded in 1751. Lied in a scenic position around the river Potomac, the quarter still looks like 17th century England: every time I walk among the narrow and quite streets on Sunday morning I admire the old English settlers’ buildings and my mind leaves for the most remote thoughts.
The inhabitants of these small wooden houses, painted in soft colours, are proud of their unusual hamlet. The rest of the capital’s residents considers them no more than modern eremites and they don’t understand how they can live without so many of the typical elements of the American life made of huge parking lots and shopping malls.
The most popular part of Washington DC is the monumental area, designed by French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant towards the end of the 18th century and centred on the National Mall’s enormous green rectangle, the town’s liver, stretching from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol and reaching the Tidal Basin on one side and the White House on the other. The area offers its best during springtime, when the fields green tunes are joined by the faint rose colour coming from the blossoming cherry trees, a gift from Tokyo to seal eternal friendship. The whole sight is enchanting and relaxing, especially if enjoyed from the Potomac.
The many monuments surrounding the National Mall include imposing attractions as the Washington Memorial and the nearby Reflecting Pool, but also more discreet works, perfectly integrated in the landscape, such as the Vietnam Memorial. Every day crowds of Americans and visitors arrive to contemplate these national glories in awe, adding a solemn aura to the sites especially in the evening, when they are illuminated by faint lights calling for meditation.
In front of the National Mall start the huge main roads lining up – in order of importance – the buildings hosting the federal bureaus, starting from the White House, and the Smithsonian Foundation‘s museums. I am always impressed by their size and by the obvious attempt to reproduce an imperial atmosphere through elements typical of the Roman Empire and the Ancient Greece. Even the imposing Jefferson Memorial recalls distinctively the Greek Pantheon with its shape.
But Washington DC it’s not just about its monuments. Among its many other faces there are the endless boulevards framed by trees of the embassies quarter, in the town’s north-west corner, an oasis of peace and silence in the heart of one of America’s busiest town.
I also love to dive in the shadows in Rock Creek Park, located in the stream flowing in the Potomac near Georgetown, or in the scents emanating by the exotic plants of the National Arboretum.
Finally it has to be said that Washington DC is a cosmopolite town, a transnational conglomerate of people, cultures, flavours and colours. A town able to surprise its visitors even in its most remote corners.