The sun has come up, dappling the surface of the Potomac. It warms the front plaza of the Supreme Court building, where visitors stand in line to attend an oral argument. Sunlight splays across the National Mall, bounces off the tip of the Washington Monument, and pours through the south-facing windows of the White House. Commuters of all sorts, from diplomats to nonprofit wonks to shopkeepers, spill from cars and buses and Metro stations onto sunlit downtown streets armed with briefcases, coffee cups, smartphones, and newspapers. They rub elbows from sunup to sundown, in the halls of Congress, in waterfront restaurants, in Georgetown shops, in Penn Quarter theaters, in bars along 14th Street. The city bustles. Bustle with it. It’s a beautiful day.

Each day dawns anew in this “city of magnificent intentions,” as Charles Dickens called it. Maybe this will be the day that Republican and Democratic lawmakers put aside their differences and renew their efforts to work together for the good of the country. Maybe this will be the day that the White House, too, engages in productive collaboration. This should certainly be the day that you fulfill your own intentions, sublime or otherwise, of setting eyes on the original Declaration of Independence, perhaps, or tasting something called a “half-smoke,” or marching to bring attention to your own just cause, or listening to a jazz concert in the same place where Duke Ellington once performed. Things happen here that can happen nowhere else on earth. You’re in America’s capital, and this city and this day belong to you. Make the most of it!

Behind its public face of luminous marble memorials and Capitol Hill politicking, Washington, D.C., leads a wondrously varied life. Musicians trumpet the blues, rock, and jazz at clubs throughout Duke Ellington's hometown. Museums welcome culture-seekers by day, hipsters for after-hours bashes. Ever after "the latest thing," Washingtonians jam hot spots but swear by old reliables, whether that means savoring the blueberry pancakes Saturday mornings at Eastern Market or strolling past the White House at 2am to stop for ale and oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill.

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