Before our United States Government convened in Washington DC, it spent time in New York City, Baltimore, Trenton, and even Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. It was not until 1800 that the capital was moved to its current location.
When Washington was first developed, it looked more like a “cow town” than anything. The streets were unpaved and few buildings were completely developed. There were no monuments or memorials and the Smithsonian Museums were not even an idea.
In 1791, George Washington chose the plot of land for the capital city. At the time of the choice, the area was centrally located between the 13 Original Colonies. Land was ceded by both Maryland and Virginia to form an area that covered 100 square miles. The current shape of the District of Columbia, or the D.C in Washington D.C. came about in 1846 when the land ceded by Virginia was returned. When this happened the district shrank by amount one-third.
The “Columbia” part came about in 1791 when commissioners named the city in honor of George Washington and called the district the “Territory of Columbia”. The name Columbia was to honor Christopher Columbus. Eighty years later the Territory of Columbia was renamed the “District of Columbia”.
Congress met in Washington DC for the first time in November of 1800. The year before George Washington died, having served two terms as President. His Vice President, John Adams was now President of the United States. However, John Adams was soon defeated by Thomas Jefferson in the election, so his stay in the newly built capital city was very brief.