How the world has changed in 65 years! Brinkley, who died in 2003, described a lot of what we see as modern Washington. And while his book chronicles the growth of Washington up until its publication in 1988, there is little hint of what has since become of our nation’s capital and the surrounding area.
The growth of government in the last 45 years has brought staggering development to the area. Northern Virginia has boomed as a bedroom community for employees working for the government as well as employers attempting to squeeze money out of the government. Virginia has seen population growth of over 15% in each decade since the 1950’s, much of that centered in Northern Virginia.
Maryland, to the north of Washington, has also experienced explosive growth, particularly in the counties closest to the Capital. Montgomery County, adjacent to D.C., is the eighth richest county in the country. Its wealth relates directly to the federal employees who live there along with their neighbors whose principal role in life is to extract money from the taxpayers. The fact that the cost of office space in D.C. has become equal to – and will soon exceed – the rates in New York City speaks volumes about how this administration has changed the focus of our society from a privately-run country to a government-run country. More and more companies feel the need to feed at the federal trough and thus move their operations to Washington. A perfect illustration of this trend occurred late last year when Northrop Grumman announced they were leaving Southern California for D.C. This move sounded the death knell in Southern California to an industry that it helped to build – the aerospace industry.
There are some factors that may stop rental rates in New York from diving below Washington. The revival of the financial sector will likely increase demand in New York, and significant new construction in D.C. may ultimately hold down price increases there.
But make no mistake: this event is monumental in American history. The march of government growth has been constant since the 1930s and continues unabated. With the huge expansion of government envisioned by this Administration, Washington will become the center of the universe for our country. God help us when that happens.