- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2003

The District finally got some respect from the U.S. Postal Service yesterday, a year after it was slighted.

The Postal Service decided to consider a special stamp for the city after D.C. leaders complained about an April 2002 “Greetings from America” stamp series honoring the 50 states but not the nation’s capital.

The result is a diamond-shaped stamp mirroring the original shape of the District. The 37-cent commemorative, unveiled yesterday, features cherry blossoms, row houses and memorials.

“It is an unusual stamp because of the diamond shape showing four different views of Washington,” said Delores J. Killette, postmaster for the District.

The top quadrant depicts a detail from a 1791 plan of Washington developed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who was asked by President Washington to design the city. The right quadrant shows row houses from the historically black Shaw neighborhood. Cherry blossoms fill the bottom quadrant of the stamp, while the left quadrant is a view of the National Mall, featuring the Capitol, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

“This stamp says, ‘Hey, this is a city,’ not just the part you come to when you come to the monuments or to the Capitol. This is the historic city. The perfect city. The diamond-shaped city,” said U.S. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Democrat.

Mrs. Norton — who can vote in committee but not on the House floor — led the push for the stamp.

The original 100-square-mile tract of land chosen to be the nation’s capital was diamond-shaped. The city lost more than 30 square miles, and its shape, in the mid-1800s, when about a third of the land was returned to Virginia. This, however, was overlooked in a news release from Mrs. Norton’s staff, which characterized the stamp as the “original perfect triangle shape of the city.”

This is the second time the Postal Service has issued a diamond-shaped stamp, and the first time it has designated one as a first-class stamp, according to Don Smeraldi, a Postal Service spokesman. A $5 diamond-shaped stamp bearing the faces of George Washington and Andrew Jackson was released in 1994.

The last time a stamp was issued for the District was in 1991, celebrating its bicentennial.

Nazam Ali, whose family owns the Shaw neighborhood’s famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, was pleased with the stamp.

“It’s something to take pride in, that it shows the different aspects of our great city,” Mr. Ali said.

One stamp collector and D.C. resident was not so thrilled with the design.

“The Mall, the Lincoln Memorial — that’s OK, but I probably would have included the White House,” Sherry Davis said. “I’m kind of, sort of a little disappointed.”

An estimated 72 million stamps of the city will be available Sept. 22.

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