One of the nice things about D.C. is that you can never be too far from home.
In other cities, you will find a more international feel, and I suspect that places like DISNEYLAND and the Mall of America attract people from all over the USA, but on just about any given day of the week, certain subway lines and the entire area surrounding the National Mall are teeming with groups of people from every state in the union.
I have been going to a lot of lectures and films at the National Gallery as well as trying to navigate through the sad D.C. Public Library (you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a neglected library by its crappy website
), both of which are down by the national mall and the big arena where sports teams play. That means I have been privy to a slice of back home on a rather regular basis.
In almost any other big city, I think the tourists would have an instantly bothersome affect on “residents,” but it feels a bit different here. The tourists aren’t pushing you over to get Canal Street Louis Vuitons or keeping their digicams at the ready in case any b-list actors walk by. They are going to museums and looking at architecture and fucking engaging in history! Sure, it all sounds kind of cloying and idealistic, but somehow it makes their constant presence seem that much more charming.
I certainly can’t explain why it happens, maybe visitors feel a sense of ownership, but when they come here, rather than trying to blend in with the regulars as most of us do when out of town, people seem to gain an augmented sense of local pride. Many of the tourists down on the mall literally wear their school or hometown pride on their sleeve… er, I mean hoodie.