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If a picture is worth one thousand words, a number is worth one thousand questions. This week, City Paper rounded up and illustrated data points that describe life in the District. Volumes of data are available on D.C., and on any major American city. This set is hardly comprehensive, but it is a beginner’s guide to what’s available. In several cases, we pulled the most interesting number nuggets we could find within thick government or nonprofit reports. If you want to know more, find those reports and look for others. Find out what data points should be available, but aren’t. No one in D.C. seems to know, for example, exactly how many rent-controlled units exist in this city. And the information that is available raises questions. Some Capital Bikeshare bikes are in frequent use, while others spend most of their time docked. Why? D.C.’s Department of Health recorded 7,036 deaths in the city in 2016. Each one is worthy of a biography.   —Alexa Mills

Death in the District

7,036 people died within the boundaries of the District in 2016 according to the DC Department of Health. The city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner does not investigate every death, but it must, by law, accept “all traumatic, unwitnessed, or suspicious deaths that occur in DC.” For the year 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, here are the totals:

Source: DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner 2016 Annual Report Credit: Stephanie Rudig

Birds In D.C.

Each month, members of the Audubon Society of the District of Columbia traverse the city on bird watching excursions. Through parks and gardens, they log the species of birds they see and record how many of each. Here are the top species of the year 2017.

Credit: Stephanie Rudig

D.C. Parks by Size

Credit: Stephanie Rudig

Smithsonian Visitors

FOIA Requests

Since it was signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act has been an invaluable resource for people who want to know more about the government and how to hold it accountable. In 2016, individuals filed 7,957 FOIA requests with District government agencies, which took thousands of hours to process.

Credit: Stephanie Rudig


The number of homeless people in D.C. has jumped since the economic recession, with a 40.5 percent increase from 2007 to 2017. On a night last January, officials and volunteers recorded 7,473 total homeless people, or a 10.5 percent decrease from the year before. The number of people in homeless families also went down, by 21.8 percent. Experts wonder if the 2018 tally will continue these declines. The District’s annual count was conducted just last night.

Source: D.C. Department of Human Services, 2017 Credit: Stephanie Rudig

Employment and Labor

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, 2018 Credit: Stephanie Rudig

Humane Rescue Alliance

Source: Humane Rescue Alliance, 2017 Credit: Stephanie Rudig

Getting Around D.C.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau (just fact about length of commute),

Source: WMATA 2017 Metro Facts Credit: Stephanie Rudig

It’s intuitive that some Capital Bikeshare stations get more use than others, but what about the bikes themselves? The system data show a tremendous amount of variability in how often individual bikes are used (or not) over the course of one full year.    

Source: https://www.capitalbikeshare.com/system-data Credit: Stephanie Rudig

The Key Bridge Boathouse is a top destination for tourists and locals alike whenever the temperature climbs above 50 degrees. In the heat of summer, it’s a madhouse. But which water vessels do Washingtonians rent the most? Boating in D.C. provided the following breakdown from the 2017 season.

Source: Colin Brown, Marketing Coordinator, Boating in DC Credit: Stephanie Rudig

Grocery Stores By Ward

According to the city, there are 12 grocery stores in Ward 6 as compared to merely one in Ward 8. The following data, updated in Aug. 2017, count grocery stores as “large or national chain grocery stores which have been determined by the DC Office of Planning to be ‘healthy food’ options’” compared to corner stores, which may not stock fresh produce.

Source: DCGISopendata on DC.gov Credit: Stephanie Rudig

Fish Sales

The District digs its seafood. Just look at all the restaurants that have raw bars even though it doesn’t fit their theme. But which fish do Washingtonians devour the most? Profish, one of the top seafood wholesalers in D.C., ran the numbers, excluding crustaceans like shrimp and crab.

Source: Profish Credit: Stephanie Rudig

School Attendance

In May, Ward 8’s Ballou High School made headlines with what seemed to be an astounding achievement: Every senior graduated, applied to, and was accepted into college. But later in the year, the school made headlines again. An investigation from WAMU and NPR found that many seniors in Ballou’s 2017 graduating class should not have graduated. Administrators pressured teachers to pass students who were chronically absent and did not pass their classes. The fallout resulted in a top-to-bottom review by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education of D.C.’s high schools. It found many D.C. schools were doing the same thing. Below, a look at the attendance records of graduates from 10 D.C. public high schools.    

Source: D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education Credit: Stephanie Rudig