chapter  9
15 Pages

Washington: The DC’s History of Unresolved Planning Confl icts

ByIsabelle Gournay

The equation: ‘Washington + planning = L’Enfant 1791 + McMillan 1902’, although justifi ed from a historical and aesthetic standpoint, obscures growth patterns experienced by the city and its suburbs over the last century. The District of Columbia (DC) had 280,000 inhabitants in 1902 but major suburban growth occurred during the Depression and New Deal. By 1950, the National Capital Region (NCR) was home to 1,752,248 people, with 46 per cent (802,178) living in DC and the rest in the Maryland and northern Virginia suburbs.1 In 2000, with only 572,059 inhabitants, DC ranked twenty-fi rst among US cities and accounted for less than 12 per cent of the region’s total population of nearly fi ve million. Although Washington still represents the epitome of Peter Hall’s Political Capitals on a global scale, the percentage of federal employment within the DC limits has decreased since 1900.2 Yet, it is undeniable that the city’s and region’s livelihood depend on the administrative sector and service industries.