National Geographic : 1983 Jan
Skipping into summer, childrenjump rope on Fourth Street Northwest. Locally calledD. C. or the District,this city is 70 percent black highest of any largecity in the U. S. Although the biggest influx of blacks followed World War II, they have been residentsince the early 1800s, and by 1840 free blacks outnumbered slaves by nearly three to one. Today's minoritiesin D. C. include growing numbers of Hispanicsand Asians. Increasingly,as large black families move to the suburbs, white singles, couples, and smallfamilies move into town. The net result is that in the past ten years the city's population has fallen by about 16 percent, while the surroundingcounties in Maryland and Virginia have increasedan average of 12 percent. Not until 1973, some 20 years after the end of legal segregationand a century after Congress assumed power over local government, did Washingtoniansbegin to live under majority rule, in a not quite independent entity where Congress still holds many of the purse strings. The Districtis also home to more specialized minorities: diplomats, TV and print journalists,restaurateurs, lawyers, lobbyists, and internationalbureaucrats-an endless list. As the capital,Washington keeps continuity with the nation's history and reflects its restless nature.While many call it home, only about a third of its residents were born here.