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Washington, D.C.'s Most Iconic Buildings, As Seen on Film

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While there are over 200 films set in Washington, D.C., very rarely are movies ever actually filmed in the nation's capital. More often than not, filmmakers head towards other states for generous givebacks. For example, both of HBO's hit political TV series, House of Cards and Veep are mostly filmed in Maryland. According to DCist, Washington, D.C. hasn't paid a cent in film incentives since 2010. While the city remains empty of camera crews, it's still showcased with lights, camera, and action in movies like The Exorcist and National Treasure. If interested in taking a tour of Washington, D.C.'s most film-worthy locations, check out the map below of 10 movies that captured the District's good side.


· Top 10 Photos of D.C.'s Utter Destruction in Disaster Movies [Curbed DC]
· The Ultimate National Treasure Filming Map of America [Curbed DC]
· Mapping the Filming Locations of The Exorcist [Curbed DC]
· Mapping the Filming Locations of The Recruit [Curbed DC]
· Mapping the Filming Locations of All the President's Men [Curbed DC]

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The Exorcist

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Okay, a staircase might not seem like the most exciting film location to visit, but these stairs were so notable in the 1970s supernatural horror film, The Exorcist, that they are to receive a plaque on October 30, 2015, roughly 45 years after the film was released. The famous scene that was filmed on the steps was the death of Father Karras.

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers

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While films like Independence Day may be most known for scenes of utter destruction in the nation's capital, it was the 1950s classic, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, that really helped the doomsday ball start rolling. Aliens, space scientists, what more do you need?

Independence Day

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To film the famous White House explosion scene in Independence Day, the filmmakers created a 10-foot-by-5-foot model of the iconic building. It took a week to plan the detonation with 40 explosive charges.

St. Elmo’s Fire

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It was in Georgetown University that the characters from St. Elmo's Fire arose with famed actors like Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez, and Rob Lowe. While the Brat Pack's favorite hang out spot, St. Elmo's Bar, doesn't exist, you can still get some nosh at the location where it was filmed at.

All the President’s Men

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Foggy Bottom's Watergate complex was the site where The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered the Watergate scandal, which later led to the resignation of President Nixon and future uses of the suffix -gate in relation to scandals. The mid-1970s film, All the President's Men, features the process on how the two reporters investigated the scandal.

House of Cards

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While the Metro location mapped here is Dupont Circle, the first episode of the second season of House of Cards actually featured the Cathedral Heights Metro (which doesn't exist, in case you didn't know). Regardless, there's no way a person can speak about Washington, D.C. film history without giving a nod to this political drama. The scene featured the death of a major character and was filmed at the Charles Street subway stop in Baltimore.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

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To filibuster or not to filibuster, that is the question. It was in the late-1930s film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, that Senator Jefferson Smith successfully filibustered a bill for 24 hours or so in the U.S. Capitol that would have permitted construction of a dam on the site of his proposed boys camp. The political comedy-drama went on to win 11 Academy Award nominations and win one for Best Original Story. In 1989, the film was added to the U.S. National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Thank You for Smoking

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In this 2005 film, handsome, smooth-talker Nick Naylor does his best to raise his son while working as a tobacco lobbyist who argues that there is no definitive evidence of any linkage between tobacco smoking and lung cancer. By the end of Thank You for Smoking, when he loses his job and his friends, Naylor speaks before the Senate committee, gaining back his confidence with his quick wit, his quirky rhetoric, and his love for his son. While this feel-good, raw-humored film is often set in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, its scenes in Washington, D.C. are some of the most memorable.

National Treasure

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It was in the National Archives that historian and all-around cool guy Benjamin Franklin Gates (played by Curbed's Hollywood favorite, Nic Cage) understood that the only way to save the Declaration of Independence was to steal it. The next time you step foot in this iconic building, be careful. Your inclination to follow in Nic Cage's footsteps might not end up with gold and getting the girl; we're talking jail time.

Forrest Gump

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For fans of the mid-1990s film, Forrest Gump, the scene at the Lincoln Memorial's reflecting pool can still bring tears in our eyes as we remember when Forrest runs through the pool to meet his love, Jenny. You run to her, Forrest. Run, Forrest. Run.

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The Exorcist

Okay, a staircase might not seem like the most exciting film location to visit, but these stairs were so notable in the 1970s supernatural horror film, The Exorcist, that they are to receive a plaque on October 30, 2015, roughly 45 years after the film was released. The famous scene that was filmed on the steps was the death of Father Karras.

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers

While films like Independence Day may be most known for scenes of utter destruction in the nation's capital, it was the 1950s classic, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, that really helped the doomsday ball start rolling. Aliens, space scientists, what more do you need?

Independence Day

To film the famous White House explosion scene in Independence Day, the filmmakers created a 10-foot-by-5-foot model of the iconic building. It took a week to plan the detonation with 40 explosive charges.

St. Elmo’s Fire

It was in Georgetown University that the characters from St. Elmo's Fire arose with famed actors like Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez, and Rob Lowe. While the Brat Pack's favorite hang out spot, St. Elmo's Bar, doesn't exist, you can still get some nosh at the location where it was filmed at.

All the President’s Men

Foggy Bottom's Watergate complex was the site where The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered the Watergate scandal, which later led to the resignation of President Nixon and future uses of the suffix -gate in relation to scandals. The mid-1970s film, All the President's Men, features the process on how the two reporters investigated the scandal.

House of Cards

While the Metro location mapped here is Dupont Circle, the first episode of the second season of House of Cards actually featured the Cathedral Heights Metro (which doesn't exist, in case you didn't know). Regardless, there's no way a person can speak about Washington, D.C. film history without giving a nod to this political drama. The scene featured the death of a major character and was filmed at the Charles Street subway stop in Baltimore.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

To filibuster or not to filibuster, that is the question. It was in the late-1930s film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, that Senator Jefferson Smith successfully filibustered a bill for 24 hours or so in the U.S. Capitol that would have permitted construction of a dam on the site of his proposed boys camp. The political comedy-drama went on to win 11 Academy Award nominations and win one for Best Original Story. In 1989, the film was added to the U.S. National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Thank You for Smoking

In this 2005 film, handsome, smooth-talker Nick Naylor does his best to raise his son while working as a tobacco lobbyist who argues that there is no definitive evidence of any linkage between tobacco smoking and lung cancer. By the end of Thank You for Smoking, when he loses his job and his friends, Naylor speaks before the Senate committee, gaining back his confidence with his quick wit, his quirky rhetoric, and his love for his son. While this feel-good, raw-humored film is often set in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, its scenes in Washington, D.C. are some of the most memorable.

National Treasure

It was in the National Archives that historian and all-around cool guy Benjamin Franklin Gates (played by Curbed's Hollywood favorite, Nic Cage) understood that the only way to save the Declaration of Independence was to steal it. The next time you step foot in this iconic building, be careful. Your inclination to follow in Nic Cage's footsteps might not end up with gold and getting the girl; we're talking jail time.

Forrest Gump

For fans of the mid-1990s film, Forrest Gump, the scene at the Lincoln Memorial's reflecting pool can still bring tears in our eyes as we remember when Forrest runs through the pool to meet his love, Jenny. You run to her, Forrest. Run, Forrest. Run.