Historic Views of Washington, D.C.

See historic maps of Washington, D.C. along with documents relevant to its creation.

From the Today in History page at the Library of Congress:

On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act, which stipulated that the president select a site on the Potomac River as the permanent capital of the United States following a ten-year temporary residence in Philadelphia, was signed into law. In a proclamation issued on January 24, 1791, President George Washington announced the permanent location of the new capital, an area of land at the confluence of the Potomac and Eastern Branch (Anacostia) rivers that would eventually become the District of Columbia. Soon after, Washington commissioned French engineer Pierre-Charles L'Enfant to create a plan for the city.


The glorious vistas and dramatic landscape of today's Washington are a result of L'Enfant's careful planning. From the steps of the U.S. Capitol one can gaze down the mall to the Washington Monument and on to the Lincoln Memorial.