Washington D.C.: The Streets of History

By Natalie Grant, USA, June 2011

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Unlike the streets of Manhattan, which are laid out in a grid with consecutive numbers, the streets of Washington D.C. at times confuse even those who are used to them.

George Washington commissioned French-born architect Pierre L´Enfant to design a capital city in 1791, and Karlsruhe, Germany, is said to be one of the inspirations. The rectilinear – new word for the day – layout is superimposed with diagonal avenues that in turn create mini-triangle parks. Then intersections become circles, and suddenly you´re facing the way you came… and you don´t even realize it. Streets with numbers increase the farther east or west one goes from North and South Capitol Streets, and once the alphabet is exhausted it repeats itself by using alphabetical names with additional syllables (confused yet?).

But the architecture of the city as a whole has peaked the interest of many conspiracy theorists around the world. An entertaining (and fictional) romp through the streets can be had by reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown of Da Vinci Code fame. There are, supposedly, a multitude of compasses, owls, and other symbols of Freemasonry around town. One can also check out The Secret Architecture of Our Nation´s Capital by David Ovason, who provides an astrology-infused dissection of the area, complete with Sataniac zodiacs.

Many of the Founding Fathers are rumored to be Freemasons – George Washington and Ben Franklin, for example – and some speculate that Pierre L´Enfant himself was a member as well. Most residents acknowledge that any loaded geometrical signs are pure coincidence, but some claim to see an inverted pentagram pointing at the White House (formed by Rhode Island Ave., Vermont Ave., Massachusetts Ave., Connecticut Ave., and K Street). Three circles (Dupont, Logan, and Scott) all have six intersecting streets. 666 – Lucifer´s calling card? You decide.

If you´re interested in the subject but are looking for something a bit more concrete, you can visit the Headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry on 16th Street NW.

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