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Reinvigorating downtown D.C. with a monumentally modest adjustment

January 30, 2023

D.C.’s low-slung downtown is a distinct feature of our skyline. Local lore is that our skyline is short because no building could be taller than the Capitol or Washington Monument. That’s just a myth. The real reason for the height limit is much more practical. It’s a feature of 19th-century health and safety standards, including how high a fire ladder could reach at that time. We have learned a lot since the late 1800s, including how to fight fires in buildings taller than 12 stories. And while every other American and global city moved on with time, D.C. has kept its height limit at 130 feet (about 12 stories) in most parts of downtown, though buildings of up to 160 feet are allowed along the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and White House. The Height of Buildings Act became law when the city was under congressional authority, and it was protected under federal law after the District gained home rule.

Article Source: Washington Post

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