"As vacant land disappears in Washington, concerns about high real-estate prices are fueling debate over whether developers should be allowed to build taller, which is prevented under a century-old law."
"Christopher Leinberger, a land-use strategist and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, warns that unless more room is found, the artificial cap on space will inflate already soaring downtown real-estate prices, which rank second behind Manhattan.
Contrary to popular lore, the low-lying skyline has nothing to do with preserving the prominence of the Washington Monument's 555-foot stone obelisk.
Congress - which has oversight over the capital - passed the Height Act of 1910 in response to residents' outrage over the 14-story Cairo apartment building erected in 1894 near Dupont Circle, towering over nearby row houses. Besides concerns about aesthetics, there was a desire to prevent buildings from becoming too tall for fire-engine ladders."