A magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit the U.S. East Coast, rattling buildings in downtown Washington, D.C., causing the Pentagon, White House and to evacuate. 

At the U.S. Capitol, light fixtures swung and the building shook for about 15 seconds, reports NBC News.

President Barack Obama and many of the nation's leaders were out of D.C. metro area on August vacation.

The quake centered northwest of Richmond, Va. on Tuesday, August 23 at 1:53 pm (EDT). It was 3.7 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake is the largest to ever hit the D.C. area, bettering a previous high of 3.6 in that area. The area was experiencing major issues with phone communications, as the area's systems were overwhelmed.

The mild shake and tremble lasted no more than 30 seconds in downtown Washington, D.C., reported the New York Times.

The quake was felt as north as New York City, where buildings have been evacuated including World Trade Center 7. 

City Hall was evacuated for about 10 minutes, although people have since returned to the building, said the Times.