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Ellen M. McCarthy
Acting Director, Office of Planning

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Center City

Center City is the heart of the District of Columbia. Its 6.8 square miles include the “monumental core” of the city, with such landmarks as the U.S. Capitol and White House, the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, and the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian Museums. Center City also includes the city’s traditional Downtown and other employment centers such as the Southwest and West End. It is also home to Gallery Place and Penn Quarter, the region’s entertainment and cultural center. Finally, Central City includes emerging urban neighborhoods like Mount Vernon Triangle, NoMA, Captiol Riverfront, and Poplar Point.

Center City is of great importance to the District, the region, and the nation. It is the seat of the federal government, and the economic, cultural, and historic core of the region. It contains the third largest concentration of office space in the United States, trailing only New York City and Chicago, and over 400,000 persons are employed within its boundaries. 

The area’s preeminence is underscored by its land use patterns; it includes more than 100 million square feet of office space (almost 25 percent of the region’s total), 2 million square feet of retail floor space, over 11,000 hotel rooms, major entertainment venues, and the second largest theater district in the country. It is also the center of the region’s transportation network, with one of the best underground mass transit systems in the world.

Related Link:  Comprehensive Plan and Center City-related area elements