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National Mall

Every visitor to Washington becomes familiar with the National Mall. Most of the Smithsonian’s Museums and galleries surround the Mall, and some of the best views of the Capitol and Washington Monument are available from the Mall’s lawn.

When Pierre L’Enfant, 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 L’Enfant’s vision for the Mall is their greatest accomplishment.

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.

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