Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the District is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States Congress and is therefore not a part of any U.S. state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the preexisting settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria; however, Congress returned the Virginia portion in 1846. Named in honor of George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. Congress created a single municipal government for the whole District of Columbia after the American Civil War. The centers of all three branches of the federal government of the United States are in the District, including the Congress, President, and Supreme Court. Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, which are primarily situated on or around the National Mall. The city hosts 176 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit organizations, lobbying groups, and professional associations. A locally elected mayor and 13-member city council have governed the District since 1973; however, the Congress maintains supreme authority over the city and may overturn local laws. D.C. residents therefore have less self-governance than residents of U.S. states. The District has a non-voting, at-large Congressional delegate, but no senators. The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961, grants the District three electoral votes in presidential elections.
The Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first US president, General George Washington. The monument, made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss, is both the world's tallest stone structure and the world's tallest obelisk, standing 169.2 m. Taller monumental columns exist, but they are neither all stone nor true obelisks. Construction of the monument began in 1848, but was halted from 1854 to 1877, and finally completed in 1884. The hiatus in construction happened because of co-option by the Know Nothing party, a lack of funds, and the intervention of the American Civil War. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 46 m or 27% up, shows where construction was halted. Its original design was by Robert Mills, an architect of the 1840s, but his design was modified significantly when construction resumed. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; the capstone was set on December 6, 1884, and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. It officially opened October 9, 1888. Upon completion, it became the world's tallest structure, a title previously held by the Cologne Cathedral. The monument held this designation until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, France. The monument stands due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. The monument was damaged during the Virginia earthquake of August 23, 2011; it remains closed to the public while the structure is assessed and repaired. The National Park Service estimates the monument will be closed until 2014. Difficulties in repair include complexities such as the time needed to erect scaffolding.
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