The Heights of Buildings Act of 1910
(DC ST § 6-601
) was an Act of Congress
An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by government with a legislature named "Congress," such as the United States Congress or the Congress of the Philippines....
passed by the 61st United States Congress
The Sixty-first United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, DC from March 4, 1909 to March 4, 1911, during the first two years of...
on June 1, 1910 to limit the height of buildings in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....
The original act was passed in 1899 when the 55th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:* Republican: 206 * Democratic: 124* Populist: 22* Silver Republican: 3* Silver: 1* Independent Republican: 1TOTAL members: 357-Leadership:-Senate:* President: Garret Hobart * President pro tempore: William P...
passed the Heights of Buildings Act of 1899
. The original act restricted the heights of any type of building in the United States capital city of Washington, D.C., to be no higher than 110 feet (90 feet for residential buildings). In 1910, the 61st United States Congress enacted a new law limiting building heights to the width of the right-of-way of the street or avenue on which a building fronts, which is the main law presented by this act.
In response to the construction of the 164-foot (50-meter) Cairo Hotel
The Cairo apartment building, located at 1615 Q Street NW in Washington, D.C., is a landmark in the Dupont Circle neighborhood and the District's tallest residential building....
in 1894, D.C. Commissioners issued height regulations for buildings in D.C., limiting their height to 90 feet (27.4 m) for residential and 110 feet (33.5 m) for business, or to the width of the street in front, whatever was smaller. The original Height of Buildings Act, passed by Congress in 1899, removed the front street restriction, but reaffirmed limiting buildings to 90 feet (27.4 m) on residential streets and 110 feet (33.5 m) on business streets. It also made an exception for buildings on business streets 160 feet (48.8 m) wide, which were permitted to be 130 feet (39.6 m) tall.
The 1899 act was amended in 1910 to add the restriction that the height of any building would be limited to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet (6.1 m); thus, a building facing a 130 feet (39.6 m)-wide street could be 150 feet (45.7 m) tall.
The amendment contains nine sections, though Section 5 enforces the restriction of heights of buildings in the city. Section 5 of the Building Height Amendment Act of 1910, 36 Stat. 452 (formerly codified as amended at D.C. Code Ann. § 5-405 (1994)) ("Height Act"), contains limitations on the permissible heights of buildings in the District of Columbia. Those limitations depend on the width of the street on which a building will front, and on whether the street is a business or a residential street. In addition, the Height Act provides that the maximum height of buildings on blocks adjacent to public buildings "shall be regulated by a schedule adopted by the Council of the District of Columbia." Since 1910, the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, and subsequently the Council, have exercised their authority to set such further height limitations under a Schedule of Heights in 15 different areas of the District adjacent to public buildings, including the blocks around the White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...
, the Supreme Court building
The Supreme Court Building is the seat of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is situated in Washington, D.C. at 1 First Street, NE, on the block immediately east of the United States Capitol. The building is under the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol. On May 4, 1987, the Supreme...
, and the congressional office buildings
The congressional office buildings are the office buildings used by the United States Congress to augment the limited space in the United States Capitol. The congressional office buildings are part of the Capitol Complex are thus under the authority of the Architect of the Capitol and protected by...
For the other eight sections, see DC ST § 6-601
Tallest buildings in Washington, D.C.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is a prominent Latin Rite Catholic basilica located in Washington, D.C., honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of the United States...
, completed in 1959, was granted an exemption to the law by the District Zoning Commission. The National Shrine stands as the tallest building in Washington, D.C.
, excluding the Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...
. When the original act was passed in 1899, the Old Post Office Building was grandfathered in, and remains as the tallest high-rise federal building in the city. The tallest commercial building in Washington, D.C. (another one granted an exception) is One Franklin Square
One Franklin Square is a high-rise building at 1301 K Street NW, in Washington, D.C. The , 12 story building was completed in 1989, and is the fifth-tallest building in The District, occupying almost the entire north side of the 1300 block of K Street NW across from Franklin Square.The building is...
, the fifth highest building in the city, which was completed in 1989 and rises to 210 feet (64 m).