News & Politics

Let’s Choose a Better Name for DC Than “New Columbia”

Photograph by Flickr user Mr. T in DC.

However determined DC is to become the 51st state, the name its selected for itself if this comes to pass—”New Columbia”—is awfully dull, Britt Peterson writes in the July issue of Washingtonian. The name has been bandied about since the city held a constitutional convention in 1982, and was dredged up this year when Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the creation of a new statehood commission.

And on Tuesday night, that commission made it official that if the District becomes a state, its shall be called New Columbia. How boring.

If DC is going to convince members of Congress from the rest of the country that it should be a state, it needs to offer a much better name, and not just because New Columbia would create some ugly postal-code confusion with North Carolina. It needs a name that calls back to its geography, history, or culture.

Anacostia, Potomac, and Rock Creek are all possibilities. Maybe we could go with something that honors one of the home-rule era’s great figures, like Barrywood, or satisfy House Republicans’ need to name things after the Reagans and clench up for the Ronald Reagan Washington National Capital. (Hey, if it gets us two senators and a voting representative…) The District could become the first jurisdiction to rename itself after President Obama, or get saddled with the name that a President Donald Trump would surely insist upon if statehood happened on his watch.

We could go with something that honors the city’s current culture. New Brunchington, anyone? Or maybe we could just make Washington state change its name. After all, Washington, DC was here first. Fill out your bracket here.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.