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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Inaugural Post

Today the world turned its eyes to Washington, DC where the United States inaugurated its 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama. And while most of our executives have been sworn in here on the banks of the Potomac, our first head of state actually took office a stone’s throw from another river: the Hudson. On April 30, 1789, George Washington took his oath of office in front of a crowd assembled on Wall Street in lower Manhattan. After a long trip from his home in Virginia, he was rowed to New York and walked to Federal Hall, the site of his inauguration and the birthplace of American government. At the time, the city’s inhabitants numbered roughly 30,000, and its homes and businesses did not extend much further than the modern location of Canal Street. Just ten years later, the population of the country’s first capital had swelled to more than 60,000 residents.

Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.

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