Oct 21, 2011

United States of America - Washington DC

Washington Monument, an obelisk built in honor of 
George Washington, the first American president

The centre of Washington DC is pretty unique with a huge green area called the National Mall and Memorial Parks. On this huge surface are disposed the most important buidings for American politics (the White House, the U.S. Capitol, etc.), a lot of memorials to commemorate great men and wars, and huge national museums.

U.S. Capitol

Library of Congress

More than three kilometres separate the Lincoln Memorial at the extreme west from the U.S. Capitol at the extreme east. And one could spend more than a week in that space, exploring the different monuments and countless enormous museums. We enjoyed specifically the National Museum of American History but there are also the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum and so forth.

Lincoln hat when he was shot to death, National Museum of American History

The war memorials remind essentially wars from the Twentieth century: WWII, the Korean and the Vietnam war.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Memorial Park displays monuments to great men, in particular the most significant American presidents from Thomas Jefferson to Lincoln or Frankin Delano Roosevelt. We were impressed by Thomas Jefferson life displayed in his memorial. He was a major actor in the public and intellectual life of his time, from writing the Declaration of Independence and becoming the third American president to creating the University of Virginia! He was also a highly respected farmer who invented many mechanical innovations. 

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

During our stay in Washington DC occured the inauguration of Martin Luther King Junior Memorial by the president Obama himself! Well the inauguration was originally planned for the 28th of August but a 5.8-magnitude earthquake stroke the capital of the United States five days before. So we had the opportunity of attending this historical moment!

Thousands of people gathered at West Potomac Park to witness the dedication of the memorial and listen to the speeches. Aretha Franklin sang just before Obama's speech. Those two moments were the highlights of the ceremony. When the president appeared on the two screens, the huge crowd started shaking and burst into "Four more years! Four more years!". A very unique moment!

Martin Luther King Junior memorial

Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Inauguration with president Obama

Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Inauguration

Another event during this week end, the White House opened the doors of its garden to the public. This happens only two week ends every year since 1972, one in April and one in October. We saw there some trees planted by different presidents, a playground area for the presidents' kids and also a beehive and a kitchen garden (an idea of Michelle Obama).

White House

In the White House shop are sold a lot of presidential gadgets and figurines

The green heart of Washington DC is surrounded by enormous white official buildings with a Classical Revival architecture. The original urban planning was influenced by neoclassical landscape design. In fact, the layout of the streets were designed by a French-born American architect, Pierre Charles L'Enfant. The spirit of his his plans still lives in the city.

 Andrew W. Mellon auditorium

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