Portion of a 2006 Washington, D.C. license plate; link to site home page.

Modern Motoring in the District of Columbia

Photographs by J. Reid Williamson

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Taxi approaching the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception off Michigan Ave., NE, is often seen from behind a taxi. Constructed between 1922 and 1961, the Basilica is among the ten largest churches in the world.

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Lexus crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge



Delaware Memorial Bridge toll tokenD.C.-registered cars are, on occasion, driven beyond the Beltway. This one is shown heading northbound on I-95 from Delaware into New Jersey on the Delaware Memorial Bridge in early May 2007.

The Delaware Memorial Bridge is the longest twin suspension bridge in the world. The two separate bridges, which appear identical (although there are differences), together have carried more than 1.25 billion vehicles over the Delaware River between New Castle, Del., and Pennsville, N.J. since they opened.

The original span, which did not have a twin at first but now carries only northbound vehicles, was opened to traffic on August 15, 1951. Within four years about 8 million vehicles were making the crossing annually, almost twice the original projection. Talks soon began about constructing a second span, and it was opened in 1968. Three days later the original span was closed for a major overhaul, with the new southbound span accommodating two-way traffic. The refurbished northbound span opened three days before the end of 1969, and since then the two bridges combined have accommodated four lanes of traffic in each direction. On an average day about 80,000 vehicles transit the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

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Volvo and Volkswagen with plates CH-7762 and CH-7763, respectively

It's a rare sight, but spend enough time on D.C. streets and you'll see cars with consecutively-numbered plates. These two, with registrations CH-7762 and CH-7763, were spotted parked on a residential street in Northwest Washington in early March 2007.

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Cadillac Catera parked at the Tidal Basin with flowering cherry trees

Washington's famed cherry trees were just beginning to blossom on the final day of March 2007 when this photograph was taken. The 3,000 trees were a 1912 gift to Washington from the city of Tokyo, Japan. First Lady Helen Herron Taft planted the first tree, which still blooms annually.

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Land Rover with British and D.C. plates with the same number, CT-1386

Which came first: D.C. plate CT-1386 or Great Britain plate CT 1386? If you guessed the District of Columbia plate, you're correct. They're assigned sequentially and are never issued out of order whereas all plates in Great Britain are made by private manufacturers upon order by vehicle owners and dealers. Therefore, it's far easier to obtain a British plate, even if it's just to decorate a Land Rover registered in Washington, D.C., than it is to be issued a D.C. plate with a particular number.

 

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This page last updated on January 1, 2017

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