Before visiting the capital for the first time in five years, I spent some time in Fredericksburg to the south via Amtrak. The small city is home to some who want proximity to DC but a more intimate sense of community. Riding Amtrak on one of the busiest rail corridors in the world I passed through Union Station in DC multiple times. Compared to New York Penn or Chicago Union which have been relegated to basements DC still has a grand station with pristine architecture and vibrance. Old Town Alexandria, just south of the capital, is another example of historical preservation.
Visiting DC for the first time in five years I took the opportunity to visit several landmarks that I had neglected while I lived there, including the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The Greco-Roman architecture of DC constantly reminds visitors of the democratic principles upon which this nation was founded, feeling genuine rather than kitsch or gaudy. There's something to be said for tradition as opposed to tacky modernism in some new seats of government around the world, Edinburgh being a striking example.
Pennsylvania Avenue, the road of government that connects two of the three branches, now hosts the Newseum which moved from Virginia. It seems quite fitting that a museum dedicated to free speech and free press is located between the President and Congress. The Parisian character of the city is very apparent when taking in the city from atop the neighborhood buildings, with low rise development keeping everything grounded; a suitable posture for leadership.
The Washington Metro is a relatively modern rapid transportation system, state of the art when it debuted in the mid-70s but starting to show its age now. The original railcars, well-known for their safety issues, are still in use. Growing up with this system I was able to enjoy it in its heyday when it was only 15 years old. It is definitely a system geared towards suburbanites, with lines snaking out into the suburbs and connecting to large lots and garages. The concerns about crime were thankfully not strong enough to prevent such a system for coexisting with the city. The large federal workforce of Washington has kept the system quite saturated with passengers. Like London and Paris, the Washington Metro is something a lot of tourists experience so it should endeavour to remain top-notch.