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Look Up, Washington DC! A Walking Tour of Downtown

a walking tour in the Look Up, America series from

by Doug Gelbert

published by Cruden Bay Books at Smashwords

Copyright 2013 by Cruden Bay Books

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the Publisher.

Geographically, downtown Washington is broadly considered to be anything north of Constitution Avenue - this tour takes in the part of downtown between Pennsylvania Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue between the Capitol and the White House. It is a land of office buildings and hotels, Chinatown and the Verizon Center, home of Washington’s professional indoor sports teams.

Unlike other large cities in America, Washington’s downtown has a low skyline. In 1899, Congress passed the Heights of Buildings Act in response to the 14-story Cairo apartment tower, which at the time was reviled as a monstrosity overshadowing its Dupont Circle neighborhood. (It is now admired as one of Washington’s most beautiful residential buildings.) The original law limited buildings to the height of the Capitol, but was amended in 1910 to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet, so a building facing a 90-foot-wide street could be only 110 feet tall. The basic intent was the same: No skyscrapers.

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