TRIVIAL PURSUITS: Why Is the District of Columbia So Named?

Congress passed the Residence Act in July 1790, which declared that the capital would be situated somewhere along the Potomac River and granted President George Washington the power to choose the final site.

Of course, Washington, D.C., was named after the president, but where did the D.C. [District of Columbia] come from?


In September 1791, the federal city was named in honor of Washington and the district in which it was located was named the Territory of Columbia. The name Columbia, derived from explorer Christopher Columbus, was used during the American Revolution era as a patriotic reference for the United States.


In 1871, the Territory of Columbia officially was renamed District of Columbia.