As we enter into a weekend that will be extremely hot and humid, I just figured I’d remind everyone that we busted the myth that DC is a swamp last year. Yes, it’s really muggy and gross here this time of year, but we don’t have it that bad– we’re not even on the list of the 101 cities with the highest average humidity. So when you hear the tourists complaining this weekend about our lovely city being built on a swamp, set them straight. And tell them to schedule their next family vacation to the District in the spring or fall, when the weather in the city is absolutely perfect.
Welcome to another edition of DC Mythbusting. I’m sure you’ve heard that the muggy mosquito-filled summers in DC are due to its location on a swamp. The Chicago Tribune named their DC bureau’s blog “The Swamp” and it is oh-so-clever to call sleazy politicians “swamp creatures“. And yes, we all know that summers in the city are humid and gross and miserable… but was DC really built on a swamp?
Not really– today it’d be called more of a tidal plain. When Pierre L’Enfant set out with a team to survey the city, there was a lot of variety in what he found: fields of tobacco and corn, small forests, and some waterside bluffs and wetlands. Most of the marshy areas were along the rivers and were susceptible to tidal fluctuations and intermittent flooding, but most of the core of the Federal City wasn’t marshy. That being said, DC was and still is a water-rich city, with the Rock Creek, the Tiber Creek (which was enclosed in the 1870s), the Potomac River, and the Anacostia River and countless creeks.