News & Politics

It’s Time to Start Thinking About America’s Semiquincentennial

Plans are already gearing up for our 250th birthday.

A bicentennial parade on Constitution Avenue in 1976. Photograph courtesy of Associated Press.

America’s bicentennial was one of the big events of the 1970s. Now get ready for another anniversary: the semiquincentennial, coming July 4, 2026. The term for the country’s 250th birthday is an awkward mouthful, but there’s still likely to be a lot of celebrating for this ’tennial. A quarter of a millennium!

So what can we expect around DC? The official commemoration is being put together by an organization called America250, working with the US Semiquincentennial Commission (formed by an act of Congress). The goal, according to its website, is “designing the largest and most inclusive anniversary observance in our nation’s history.” A big event on the Mall is a good bet: The National Park Service says it’s undertaking major infrastructure projects to prep for increased visitors in 2026.

Meanwhile, local institutions are also mulling plans, including the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center. One example: The reopening of the second half of the National Air and Space Museum will likely be tied to the 250th. That’s especially fitting because the museum opened on July 1, 1976, three days before the bicentennial.

This article appears in the July 2024 issue of Washingtonian.

Omega Ilijevich
Editorial Fellow