Quadrants of Washington, D.C.

Geographical quadrant / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Washington, D.C., is administratively divided into four geographical quadrants of unequal size, each delineated by their ordinal directions from the medallion located in the Crypt under the Rotunda of the Capitol. Street and number addressing, centered on the Capitol, radiates out into each of the quadrants, producing a number of intersections of identically named cross-streets in each quadrant.[clarification needed] Originally, the District of Columbia was a near-perfect square. However, even then the Capitol was never located at the geographic center of the territory. (The geographic center was located near the present-day intersection of 17th Street, NW and Constitution Ave.) As a result, the quadrants are of greatly varying size. Northwest is quite large, encompassing over a third of the city's geographical area, while Southwest is little more than a neighborhood and military base.

Color-enhanced USGS satellite image of Washington, D.C., taken April 26, 2002. The "crosshairs" in the image mark the quadrant divisions of Washington, with the United States Capitol at the center of the dividing lines. To the west of the Capitol extends the National Mall, visible as a slight green band in the image. The Northwest quadrant is the largest, located north of the Mall and west of North Capitol Street.

The boundaries of the quadrants are not straight lines radiating from the medallion, but follow the paths of the boundary streets (which in some cases curve around topographical features): North Capitol Street, South Capitol Street, and East Capitol Street. The axis of the National Mall through the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial forms the imaginary boundary running west of the medallion.