Every visitor to Washington becomes familiar with the National Mall.
Most of the Smithsonians Museums and galleries surround the Mall, and some of the
best views of the Capitol and Washington Monument are available from the Malls lawn.
When Pierre LEnfant, Washington D.C s original designer envisioned the
city, he pictured spacious avenues and gardens that would grace the capitol of an emerging
nation. One of the centerpieces of the city was to be a broad avenue one-mile in length
that would be bordered by private houses and gardens. However, this vision was not
realized for quite some time.
At the turn of the century the Mall reached its nadir. Essentially a big mud patch, the
Mall was in dire need of refurbishing. Union Station was not yet built, so railroad
tracks, stations and sheds criss-crossed the Mall. Exotic live animals were even kept on
the Mall because the National Zoo was not yet opened.
At this point congress appointed the McMillan Commission to clean up the Mall and make
improvements to Washington in general. Their work is evident throughout Washington, but
their effort to fulfill LEnfants vision for the Mall is their greatest
Today, the broad lawn of The National Mall stretches approximately from the Washington
Monument all the way to the Capitol. It is the site of festivals, political rallies and
other events that are held in Washington.