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The Heights of Buildings Act of 1910 ( DC ST § 6-601) was an Act of Congress passed by the 61st United States Congress on June 1 1910 to limit the height of buildings in Washington, D.C.marker The original act was passed in 1899 when the 55th United States Congress 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 less than the United States Capitolmarker building. The United States Capitol building rises to , which restricts the heights of other buildings in Washington to rise less than that specific height. 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.


The original act was passed by Congress in 1899 in response to the construction of the Cairo Hotelmarker, which is taller than the majority of buildings in the city. The act limited buildings to the height of the United States Capitol Building, but it was amended in 1910 to restrict the height of any building to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet (6.1 m); thus, a building facing a 90-foot (27 m)-wide street could be only 110 feet (34 m) tall. The amendment is cited as a District of Columbia code by the Council of the District of Columbia, cited as DC ST §. From 1910 to 1981, the amendment was cited as DC ST § 5-401; from 1981 to date, the amendment is cited as DC ST § 6-601.

Section 5

The amendment contains nine sections, though Section 5 enforces the restriction of heights of buildings in the city. The 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 Housemarker, the Supreme Court buildingmarker, and the congressional office buildings.

 For the other eight sections, see  DC ST § 6-601.

Tallest buildings in Washington, D.C.

As a result of the acts passed in 1899 and 1910, buildings in Washington, D.C. have been restricted to the United States Capitol building's height. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conceptionmarker, 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. When the original act was passed in 1899, the Old Post Office Buildingmarker was grandfathered in, and remains as the tallest high-rise federal building in the city. Aside from the exceptions to the law, the tallest commercial building is One Franklin Squaremarker, which was completed 1989 and rises to , shorter than the U.S. Capitol building.

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