National Mall

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National Mall
WashingtonDCMallAerialNavyPhoto crop.jpg
2005 aerial view facing east from above the Potomac River
National Mall is located in Washington, D.C.
National Mall
Location Between Independence and Constitution Avenues from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial
Coordinates 38°53′24″N 77°1′25″W / 38.89000°N 77.02361°W / 38.89000; -77.02361
NATIONAL MALL Latitude and Longitude:

38°53′24″N 77°1′25″W / 38.89000°N 77.02361°W / 38.89000; -77.02361
Architect Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant; McMillan Commission
Website National Mall and Memorial Parks
NRHP reference # 66000031 [1] (original)
16000805 [2] (increase)
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Boundary increase December 8, 2016

The National Mall is a national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Park Service (NPS) of the U.S. Department of the Interior administers the National Mall, which is part of its National Mall and Memorial Parks unit. [3]

The term National Mall commonly includes areas that are also officially part of neighboring West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the southwest, and often is taken to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial on the west and east to the United States Capitol grounds, with the Washington Monument dividing the area slightly west of its midpoint. [4] A smaller designation, sometimes referred to as the Mall proper, excludes both the Capitol grounds and the Washington Monument grounds, applying only to an area between them. The National Mall contains and borders a number of museums of the Smithsonian Institution, art galleries, cultural institutions and various memorials, sculptures and statues and receives approximately 24 million visitors each year. [5]

History

Looking east from the top of the Washington Monument towards the National Mall and the United States Capitol in the summer of 1901. The Mall exhibited the Victorian-era landscape of winding paths and random plantings that Andrew Jackson Downing designed in the 1850s.
The National Mall was the centerpiece of the 1902 McMillan Plan. A central open vista traversed the length of the Mall.
Uncle Beazley on the National Mall between 1980 and 1994

In his 1791 plan for the future city of Washington, D.C., Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant envisioned a garden-lined "grand avenue" approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) in length and 400 feet (120 m) wide, in an area that would lie between the Capitol building and an equestrian statue of George Washington to be placed directly south of the White House (see L'Enfant Plan). [6] [7] [8] The National Mall occupies the site of this planned "grand avenue", which was never constructed. The Washington Monument stands near the planned site of its namesake's equestrian statue. Mathew Carey's 1802 map is reported to be the first to name the area west of the United States Capitol as the "Mall". [9] [10]

During the early 1850s, architect and horticulturist Andrew Jackson Downing designed a landscape plan for the Mall. [7] [9] [11] Over the next half century, federal agencies developed several naturalistic parks within the Mall in accordance with Downing's plan. [7] [9] Two such areas were Henry Park and Seaton Park. [12] In addition, railroad tracks crossed the Mall on 6th Street, west of the Capitol. [7] Near the tracks, a large market (Central Market) and a railroad station rose on the north side of the Mall. Greenhouses belonging to the U.S. Botanic Garden appeared near the east end of the Mall. [9]

In 1902, the McMillan Commission's plan, which was partially inspired by the City Beautiful Movement and which purportedly extended L'Enfant's plan, called for a radical redesign of the Mall that would replace its greenhouses, gardens, trees, and commercial/industrial facilities with an open space. [7] [9] [13] The plan differed from L'Enfant's by replacing the 400 feet (120 m) wide "grand avenue" with a 300 feet (91 m) wide vista containing a long and broad expanse of grass. Four rows of American elm (Ulmus americana) trees planted fifty feet apart between two paths or streets would line each side of the vista. Buildings housing cultural and educational institutions constructed in the Beaux-Arts style would line each outer path or street, on the opposite side of the path or street from the elms. [7] [9] [13] [14] [15]

In subsequent years, the vision of the McMillan plan was generally followed with the planting of American elms and the layout of four boulevards down the Mall, two on either side of a wide lawn. [14] [16] [17] In accordance with a plan that it completed in 1976, the NPS converted the two innermost boulevards (Washington and Adams Drives) into gravel walking paths. [14] The two outermost boulevards (Jefferson Drive Southwest (SW) and Madison Drive Northwest (NW)) remain paved and open to vehicular traffic. [14]

In 1918 contractors for the United States Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks constructed the "Main Navy" and "Munitions" Buildings along nearly a third of a mile of the south side of Constitution Avenue (then known as B Street), from 17th Street NW to 21st Street NW. [18] [19] [20] Although the Navy intended the buildings to provide temporary quarters for the United States military during World War I, the reinforced concrete structures remained in place until 1970. [18] [19] Much of the buildings' area then became Constitution Gardens, which was dedicated in 1976. [19] [21]

National Park Service map showing the National Mall's designated reserve area referenced in the 2003 Commemorative Works Clarification and Revision Act
Barricade blocking walkway adjacent to Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool during 2013 federal government shutdown, looking east toward Washington Monument undergoing repair
Aerial view of the Mall facing west between 1980 and 2006
Looking east from the top of the Washington Monument towards the National Mall and the United States Capitol in December 1999

From the 1970s to 1994, a fiberglass model of a triceratops named " Uncle Beazley" stood on the Mall in front of the National Museum of Natural History. The life-size statue, which is now located at the National Zoological Park (the National Zoo) in Northwest Washington, D.C., was donated to the Smithsonian Institution by the Sinclair Oil Corporation. The statue, which Louis Paul Jonas created for Sinclair's DinoLand pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair, was named after a dinosaur in Oliver Butterworth's 1956 children's book, The Enormous Egg, and the 1968 televised movie adaptation in which the statue appeared. [22]

In 2003, the 108th United States Congress enacted the Commemorative Works Clarification and Revision Act. This Act prohibits the siting of new commemorative works and visitor centers in a designated reserve area within the cross-axis of the Mall. [23]

In October 2013, a two-week federal government shutdown closed the National Mall and its museums and monuments. [24] However, when a group of elderly veterans tried to enter the National World War II Memorial during the shutdown's first day, the memorial's barricades were removed. [25] The NPS subsequently announced that the veterans had a legal right to be in the memorial and would not be barred in the future. [26] During the shutdown's second week, the NPS permitted a controversial immigration rally and concert to take place on the Mall. [27]

On October 15, 1966, the NPS listed the National Mall on the National Register of Historic Places. [28] In 1981, the NPS prepared a National Register nomination form that documented the Mall's boundaries, features and historical significance. [6]

On December 8, 2016, the NPS listed on the National Register of Historic Places an increase in the National Mall Historic District's boundary to encompass an area bounded by 3rd Street, NW/SW, Independence Avenue, SW, Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW, the CSX Railroad, the Potomac River, Constitution Ave., NW, 17th Street, NW, the White House Grounds and 15th Street, NW. The listing's registration form, which contained 232 pages, described and illustrated the history and features of the historic district's proposed expanded area. [2]

Measurements

Dimensions

  • Between the Capitol steps and the Lincoln Memorial, the Mall spans 1.9 miles (3.0 km).
  • Between the Capitol steps and the Washington Monument, the Mall spans 1.2 miles (1.8 km).
  • Between the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, the Mall covers 309.2 acres (125.13 ha).
  • Between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW at 7th Street, the width of the Mall is 1,586 feet (483 m).
  • Between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW at 7th Street, the width of the Mall's open space is 656 feet (200 m).
  • Between the innermost rows of trees near 7th Street, the width of the Mall's vista is 300 feet (91 m).

Boundaries

In its 1981 National Register of Historic Places nomination form, the NPS defined the boundaries of the National Mall (proper) as Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues on the north, 1st Street NW on the east, Independence and Maryland Avenues on the south, and 14th Street NW on the west, with the exception of the section of land bordered by Jefferson Drive on the north, Independence Avenue on the south, and by 12th and 14th Streets respectively on the east and west, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture administers and which contains the Jamie L. Whitten Building (U.S. Department of Agriculture Administration Building). [6] [29]

However, a 2010 NPS plan for the Mall contains maps that show the Mall's general area to be larger. [30] [31] A document within the plan describes this area as "the grounds of the U.S. Capitol west to the Potomac River, and from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial north to Constitution Avenue". [4] A map within the plan entitled "National Mall Areas" illustrates "The Mall" as being the green space bounded on the east by 3rd Street, on the west by 14th Street, on the north by Jefferson Drive, NW, and on the south by Madison Drive, SW. [32] A Central Intelligence Agency map shows the Mall as occupying the space between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol. [33]

In 2011, the 112th United States Congress enacted the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2012, which transferred to the Architect of the Capitol the NPS "property which is bounded on the north by Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, on the east by First Street Northwest and First Street Southwest, on the south by Maryland Avenue Southwest, and on the west by Third Street Southwest and Third Street Northwest". [34] This act removed Union Square (the area containing the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and the Capitol Reflecting Pool) from NPS jurisdiction. [35]

Purposes

The National Park Service states that the purposes of the National Mall are to:

  • Provide a monumental, dignified, and symbolic setting for the governmental structures, museums and national memorials as first delineated by the L'Enfant plan and further outlined in the McMillan plan.
  • Maintain and provide for the use of the National Mall with its public promenades as a completed work of civic art, a designed historic landscape providing extraordinary vistas to symbols of the nation.
  • Maintain National Mall commemorative works (memorials, monuments, statues, sites, gardens) that honor presidential legacies, distinguished public figures, ideas, events, and military and civilian sacrifices and contributions.
  • Forever retain the West Potomac Park section of the National Mall as a public park for recreation and enjoyment of the people.
  • Maintain the National Mall in the heart of the nation's capital as a stage for national events and a preeminent national civic space for public gatherings because it is here that the constitutional rights of speech and peaceful assembly find their fullest expression.
  • Maintain the National Mall as an area free of commercial advertising while retaining the ability to recognize sponsors. [4]

Landmarks, museums, and other features

United States Geological Survey satellite images of National Mall (April 2002)
2002 satellite image of National Mall (west)
West end of National Mall, showing Lincoln Memorial (#1 on image), Vietnam Veterans Memorial (#2 on image), Constitution Gardens (above the Reflecting Pool) and construction site for the World War II Memorial (#3 on image). The Washington Monument (#1 on image below) is to the right of the construction site. Below the Reflecting Pool (outside of the image) are the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the District of Columbia War Memorial. Below the Lincoln Memorial (outside of the image) is the John Ericsson National Memorial [36]
2002 satellite image of National Mall (east)
National Mall (proper). The Mall had a grassy lawn flanked on each side by unpaved paths as its central feature. (Numbers in image correspond to numbers in list of landmarks, museums and other features below.) [37]
2004 view from the United States Capitol, facing west across the National Mall
Facing east on the National Mall, as viewed near the 1300 block of Jefferson Drive, S.W. in April 2010. Rows of American elm trees line the sides of a path traversing the length of the Mall.

The National Mall (proper) contains the following landmarks, museums and other features: [4] [6]

2. National Museum of American History [38]
3. National Museum of Natural History
4. National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
5. West Building of the National Gallery of Art
6. East Building of the National Gallery of Art
10. National Museum of the American Indian [39]

 

11. National Air and Space Museum
12. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
13. Arts and Industries Building
14. Smithsonian Institution Building ("The Castle")
15. Freer Gallery of Art

 

16. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
17. National Museum of African Art
Andrew Jackson Downing Urn
Joseph Henry Statue [40]
Smithsonian Carousel [41] [42]

With the exception of the National Gallery of Art, all of the museums on the National Mall (proper) are part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Gardens maintains a number of gardens near its museums. [43] These gardens include:

Mary Livingston Ripley Garden [44]
Enid A. Haupt Garden [45]
Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden [46]
Butterfly Habitat Garden [47]

 

Victory Garden at the National Museum of American History [48]
Heirloom Garden at the National Museum of American History, Behring Center [49]
Native Landscape at the National Museum of the American Indian [50]
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden [51]

The broader area of the National Mall includes numerous other landmarks and features.

Features east of the National Mall (proper) include:

United States Capitol and its grounds (#7 on image)
Union Square [52]
Ulysses S. Grant Memorial (#8 on image)
Capitol Reflecting Pool

 

James A. Garfield Monument [53]
Peace Monument, [54]
United States Botanic Garden (#9 on image)

Features west of the National Mall (proper) include:

West side of Jefferson Pier in April 2011, with Washington Monument in the background.

United States Department of Agriculture South Building
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Washington Monument and its grounds (#1 on image) [4]
Constitution Gardens
Sylvan Theater
Lincoln Memorial

 

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
National World War II Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Three Soldiers Statue
Vietnam Women's Memorial

 

District of Columbia War Memorial
John Ericsson National Memorial
John Paul Jones Memorial
Lockkeeper's House, C & O Canal Extension [55]
Jefferson Pier

 

The population of American elm trees planted on the Mall and its surrounding areas in accordance with the McMillan Plan has remained intact for the past 70 years because of disease management and immediate tree replacement. Dutch elm disease (DED) first appeared on the Mall during the 1950s and reached a peak in the 1970s. The NPS has used a number of methods to control this fungal epidemic, including sanitation, pruning, injecting trees with fungicide, replanting with DED-resistant American elm cultivars and combatting the disease's local insect vector, the smaller European elm bark beetle ( Scolytus multistriatus), by trapping and by spraying with insecticides. Soil compaction and root damage by crowds and construction projects also adversely affect the elms. [56]

2007 aerial view of Capitol Hill and the National Mall, facing west

Other attractions nearby

Other attractions within walking distance of the National Mall proper include the Library of Congress and the United States Supreme Court Building east of the Capitol; the White House (on a line directly north of the Washington Monument), the National Archives, the Freedom Forum's Newseum, the Old Post Office Pavilion, the National Theatre, Ford's Theatre, and the Albert Einstein Memorial to the north. Other nearby attractions include the National Postal Museum and Union Station to the northeast; and the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the George Mason Memorial, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to the south.

Usage

The National Mall, in combination with the other attractions in the Washington Metropolitan Area, makes the nation's capital city one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. It has several other uses in addition to serving as a tourist focal point.

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on the National Mall facing east from the Lincoln Memorial

Protests and rallies

The National Mall's status as a wide, open expanse at the heart of the capital makes it an attractive site for protests and rallies of all types. One notable example is the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a political rally during the Civil Rights Movement, at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his speech " I Have a Dream".

The largest officially recorded rally was the Vietnam War Moratorium Rally on October 15, 1969. However, in 1995, the NPS issued a crowd estimate for the Million Man March with which an organizer of the event, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, disagreed. [57] The next year, a committee of the 104th United States Congress provided no funds for NPS crowd-counting activities in Washington, D.C. when it prepared legislation making 1997 appropriations for the U.S. Department of the Interior. [57] [58]

As a result, the NPS has not provided any official crowd size estimates for Mall events since 1995. [57] [59] The absence of such an official estimate fueled a political controversy following the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017 (see: Inauguration of Donald Trump crowd size). [60]

On April 25, 2004, the March for Women's Lives filled the Mall. [61] On January 27, 2007, tens of thousands of protesters opposed to the Iraq War converged on the Mall (see: January 27, 2007 anti-war protest), drawing comparisons by participants to the Vietnam War protest. [62]

Presidential inaugurations

First inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009 facing west from the Capitol

During presidential inaugurations, people without official tickets gather at the National Mall. Normally, the Mall between 7th and 14th Streets NW is used as a staging ground for the parade. [63] On December 4, 2008, the Presidential Inaugural Committee (see: United States presidential inauguration organizers) announced that "for the first time, the entire length of the National Mall will be opened to the public so that more people than ever before will be able to witness the swearing-in of the President from a vantage point in sight of the Capitol." [64] The Committee made this arrangement because of the massive attendance – projected to be as many as 2 million people – that it expected for the first inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.

Despite the arrangement, a throng of people seeking access to the event climbed and then removed temporary protective fences around the Smithsonian's Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, six blocks from the site at which Obama took his inaugural oath. Hordes then trampled the garden's vegetation and elevated plant beds when entering and leaving the event. [65] Others could not find a way to enter the Mall in time to view the ceremony.

More than a thousand people with tickets missed the event while being stranded in the I-395 Third Street Tunnel beneath the Mall after police directed them there (see Purple Tunnel of Doom). [66] The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies subsequently announced that ticket holders that were not admitted would receive copies of the swearing-in invitation and program, photos of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and a color print of the ceremony. [67]

Other events and recreational activities

The National Mall has long served as a spot for jogging, picnics, and light recreation for the Washington population. The Smithsonian Carousel, located on the Mall in front of the Arts and Industry Building, is a popular attraction that operates seasonally. [68] The carousel was built by the Allan Herschell Company and arrived at Gwynn Oak Park near Baltimore, Maryland, in 1947. It was moved to the Mall in 1981. [41] [42] [69]

Independence Day fireworks display between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, July 4, 1986

Annual events

A number of large free events recur annually on the Mall. [70] A kite festival, formerly named the "Smithsonian Kite Festival" and now named the " Blossom Kite Festival", usually takes place each year on the Washington Monument grounds during the last weekend of March as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The 2017 kite festival took place on the Washington Monument grounds on Saturday, April 1. [71]

An Earth Day celebration often takes place on the Mall around April 22. [72] A week-long series of rallies, exhibits, observances and performances occurred on the Mall from April 17 to April 25, 2010 to commemorate Earth Day's 40th anniversary. [73] The final day's events featured performances by Sting, Mavis Staples, The Roots, John Legend, Jimmy Cliff and others. [74] The 2012 Earth Day rally, which featured music, entertainment, celebrity speakers and environmental activities, took place on the Mall during a rainy day on Sunday, April 22. Cheap Trick, Dave Mason, Nigel Pilkington, Dan Russell and Emma Tate and The Explorers Club performed and Congressmen John Dingell and Edward Markey spoke. [75] In 2013, an "Earth Month" at Washington's Union Station replaced the Mall's Earth Day event. [76] On April 19, 2015, a " Global Citizen" Earth Day concert featured performances on the Washington Monument grounds by Usher, My Morning Jacket, Mary J. Blige, Train and No Doubt. [77]

The National Symphony Orchestra presents each year its National Memorial Day Concert on the west lawn of the United States Capitol during the evening of the Sunday before Memorial Day (the last Monday of May). [78] The National Gallery of Art hosts a Jazz in the Garden series each year in the museum's Sculpture Garden on Friday evenings from late May through August. [79]

Components of the United States Navy Band, the United States Air Force Band, the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Band perform on the west steps of the United States Capitol on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, respectively, during June, July and August. [80] [81] The Marine Band repeats each Wednesday Capitol performance on the following evening (Thursday) at the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument. [81] Components of U.S. military bands also provide evening concerts at the World War II Memorial from May through August. [82]

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival takes place on the Mall each year for two weeks around Independence Day (July 4). [83] On that holiday, the A Capitol Fourth concert takes place in the late afternoon and early evening on the west lawn of the Capitol. [84] This and other Independence Day celebrations on and near the Mall end after sunset with a fireworks display between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. [85]

The National Symphony Orchestra presents each year its Labor Day Capitol Concert on the west lawn of the United States Capitol during the evening of the Sunday before Labor Day (the first Monday of September). [86]

The 1939 concert by Marian Anderson, facing east from the Lincoln Memorial

Other events

On April 9, 1939, singer Marian Anderson gave an Easter Sunday concert at the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) denied a request by Howard University for her to give an Easter performance at the DAR's nearby racially segregated Constitution Hall (see: Marian Anderson's 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert). The event, which 75,000 people attended, occurred after President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his assent for the performance. [87]

The 1976 United States Bicentennial celebration provided the motivation for planning to accommodate large numbers of expected visitors to the National Mall. A number of major memorials were added to the Mall throughout that period. [88] On May 21, 1976, Constitution Gardens was dedicated. [89] On July 1, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum opened. [90] On July 4, the Bicentennial fireworks display on the Mall attracted one million viewers, making it second only to the 1965 presidential inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson as the largest event in the Mall's history up to that time. [91]

On Sunday, October 9, 1979, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass on the National Mall during a visit to Washington. [92] The celebration took place after an appellate court denied a motion for an injunction that atheists Madalyn Murray O'Hair and Jon Garth Murray had filed to prevent the event from occurring. [93]

From 1980 through 1982, The Beach Boys and The Grass Roots performed Independence Day concerts on the Mall, attracting large crowds. [94] [95] However, in April 1983, James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, banned Independence Day concerts on the Mall by such groups. Watt said that " rock bands" that had performed on the Mall on Independence Day in 1981 and 1982 had encouraged drug use and alcoholism and had attracted "the wrong element", who would mug individuals and families attending any similar events in the future. [95] Watt then announced that Las Vegas crooner Wayne Newton, a friend and supporter of President Reagan and a contributor to Republican Party political campaigns, would perform at the Mall's 1983 Independence Day celebration. [95] [96]

During the ensuing uproar, Rob Grill, lead singer of The Grass Roots, stated that he felt "highly insulted" by Watt's remarks, which he called "nothing but un-American". [95] The Beach Boys stated that the Soviet Union, which had invited them to perform in Leningrad in 1978, "obviously .... did not feel that the group attracted the wrong element". [95] Vice President George H. W. Bush said of The Beach Boys, "They're my friends and I like their music". [95] On July 3, 1983, thousands attended a heavily policed "Rock Against Reagan" concert that the hardcore punk rock band, Dead Kennedys, performed on the Mall in response to Watt's action. [97] When Newton entered an Independence Day stage on the Mall on July 4, members of his audience booed. [98] [99] Watt apologized to The Beach Boys, First Lady Nancy Reagan apologized for Watt, and in 1984 The Beach Boys gave an Independence Day concert on the Mall to an audience of 750,000 people. [98] [100]

Britney Spears performs during the "NFL Kickoff Live from the National Mall Presented by Pepsi Vanilla" concert, September 4, 2003.

On September 4, 2003, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin, Aerosmith and others performed in a nationally televised "NFL Kickoff Live from the National Mall Presented by Pepsi Vanilla" (see: Pre-game concerts for National Football League kickoff game). [101] Preceded by a three-day National Football League "interactive Super Bowl theme park", the event had primarily commercial purposes, unlike earlier major activities on the Mall. Three weeks later, the United States Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that, when enacted into law, limited displays of commercial sponsorship on the Mall. [102]

On July 7, 2007, one leg of Live Earth was held outdoors at the National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall. Former Vice President Al Gore presented, and artists such as Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood performed. [103]

Occurring once every two to three years on the Mall in the early fall from 2002 to 2009, [104] the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon displayed solar-powered houses that competitive collegiate teams designed, constructed and operated. [105] [106] Igniting a controversy, the Department of Energy (DOE) decided to move the 2011 Decathlon off the Mall, claiming that this would support an effort to protect, improve and restore the park. [107] Federal officials stated that heavy equipment that had placed two-story houses on the Mall during earlier Decathlons had cracked walkways and killed grass to a greater extent than had most other Mall events. [108] On February 4, 2011, a Washington Post editorial criticized attempts to have President Obama restore the event to the Mall. [109] Nevertheless, by February 12, 2011, at least thirteen U.S. Senators had signed a letter asking the DOE to reconsider its decision. [108] On February 23, 2011, the DOE and the Department of the Interior announced that the 2011 Solar Decathlon would take place along Ohio Drive southeast of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in West Potomac Park. [110] The event took place in the Park from September 23 through October 2, 2011. [106] [111] The 2013 Solar Decathlon took place in California instead of Washington. [112]

From 2003 to 2013, the National Book Festival took place on the Mall each year in late September or early October. [113] However, the event moved to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in 2014 because the NPS became concerned about the damage that pedestrians had inflicted on the Mall's lawn during previous Festivals. [114]

A four-day exhibition took place each year on the Mall during Public Service Recognition Week (the first full week of May) until 2010. Government agencies participating in the event sponsored exhibits that displayed the works of public employees and that enabled visitors to learn about government programs and initiatives, discuss employee benefits, and interact with agency representatives. [115] However, the 2011 United States federal budget ( Public Law 112-10), which was belatedly enacted on April 15, 2011, contained no funding for that year's event, forcing the event's cancellation. [116] The event did not take place in 2012. [117]

On June 12, 2010, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, a couple under investigation for allegedly crashing a White House state dinner for the Prime Minister of India in November 2009 (see: 2009 U.S. state dinner security breaches), hosted an America's Polo Cup match between the United States and India on the Mall. The advertised ticket price for this event was $95 per person. [118] Reports of the event stated that the players who represented India were actually of Pakistani origin and were from Florida. [119] A spokesman for the Embassy of India stated that neither the Embassy nor the government of India had any association with the event. [118] The event's website reportedly identified an Indian company, Kingfisher Beer, as a sponsor. However, Kingfishers' chief executive denied that the company had sponsored the event. [118] Yashpal Singh, the president and chief executive of Mendocino Brewing Company, Kingfisher's parent company, stated, "We are not sponsoring this event and have informed the people managing this event of that, .... We have sent legal notices to this effect, and he keeps on advertising us as a sponsor. I don't know what world he's living in." [118]

The inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo took place on the National Mall and surrounding areas on October 23 and 24, 2010. More than 1,500 free interactive exhibits reportedly drew about 500,000 people to the event, [120] which had over 75 performances. [121] The second Expo took place on April 28–29, 2012, in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. [122]

Concert for Valor on the National Mall, November 11, 2014, looking west from the United States Capitol grounds.

On Veterans Day, November 11, 2014, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Rihanna, Metallica, Carrie Underwood, Dave Grohl, the Zac Brown Band and other pop entertainers performed on the Mall during a free evening Concert for Valor honoring veterans and their families. Attendance was in the hundreds of thousands, making it one of the biggest events on the Mall for the year. [123]

The annual Screen on the Green movie festival took place on the Mall on Monday nights during July and August for 17 years until 2015. Free classic movies were projected on large portable screens and typically drew crowds of thousands of people. Organizers cancelled the event in 2016 when the event's sponsors ( HBO and Comcast) terminated their support, stating that they needed their resources for other projects. [124]

National Mall Plan

From 2006 through 2010, the NPS conducted a public process that created a plan for the future of the National Mall. [30] [31] On July 13, 2010, the NPS issued in the Federal Register a notice of availability of a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the National Mall Plan. [125] The two-volume final EIS responded to comments and incorporated changes to a draft EIS for the Plan. [126] On November 9, 2010, the NPS and the Department of the Interior issued a Record of Decision (ROD) that completed the planning process. [31] [127] [128] [129] The ROD contains a summary of the selected alternative, which is the basis for the Plan, together with mitigation measures developed to minimize environmental harm; other alternatives considered; the basis for the decision in terms of planning objectives and the criteria used to develop the preferred alternative; a finding of no impairment of park resources and values; the environmentally preferable alternative; and the public and agency involvement. [130]

The Plan proposed a number of changes to the Mall. The NPS would construct at the east end of the Mall a wide expanse of paved surface in Union Square to accommodate demonstrations and other events by reducing the size of the Capitol Reflecting Pool or by replacing the pool with a fountain or other small water feature. Additional proposed changes included the replacement of the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument grounds with a facility containing offices, restaurants and restrooms. [30] [127] [128] [129]

On December 2, 2010, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) unanimously approved the final National Mall Plan at a public hearing. [131] The NCPC's approval allowed the NPS to move forward with implementation of the Plan's recommendations. [31] [129] [130] [131] On March 1, 2012, the NCPC discussed a proposal that would decrease the Mall's existing green space by widening and paving most of the north-south walkways that cross the Mall between Seventh and Fourteenth Streets and by replacing with gravel large areas of grass that are located near the Smithsonian Metro Station and the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden. [132]

On September 8, 2011, the Trust for the National Mall [133] and the NPS announced an open competition for a redesign of the spaces on the National Mall that Union Square, the Sylvan Theater grounds and the Constitution Gardens lake now occupy. [134] Former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush agreed to be the honorary co-chair of a drive to raise funds for the three projects. [134]

On April 9, 2012, the Trust for the National Mall announced the ideas for the redesign of Union Square, the Sylvan Theater grounds and Constitution Gardens lake area that finalists in the competition had submitted. The Trust asked the public to submit online comments that the competition jury would consider when evaluating each design. [135] The Trust announced the winners of the competition on May 2, 2012. Groundbreaking for the first project was expected to take place by 2014, with the first ribbon-cutting ceremony by 2016. [136]

On October 1, 2015, the NCPC approved preliminary and final site and building plans that the NPS had submitted for the first phase rehabilitation of Constitution Gardens. Plans include the relocation and rehabilitation of the Lockkeeper's House, C & O Canal Extension, a new entry plaza at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, NW, landscaping, a meadow and pollinator habitat and a new perimeter garden wall. A temporary path will connect to an existing plaza located at the eastern end of Constitution Garden’s lake. [137]

Reconstruction and restoration

From 2010 to 2012, NPS contractors rebuilt the aging Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which had first been constructed in the early 1920s and whose water had come from the pipes that supply Washington, D.C., with its drinking water. As a result of the project, the pool now receives filtered water from the Tidal Basin through a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipeline. [138]

The NPS then began a four-year restoration of the portion of the central axis of the Mall that lies between 3rd Street and 14th Street. [139] By 2016, the restoration project had completely replaced the deteriorated and weedy turf that had previously covered much of that part of the Mall with a new cover containing soil, fescue (Festuca) and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis). [140]

Transportation

Smithsonian station on the Washington Metro, pictured in 2005

Public transportation

The National Mall is accessible via the Washington Metro, with the Smithsonian station located on the south side of the Mall, near the Smithsonian Institution Building between the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol. [141] The Federal Triangle, Archives, and Union Station Metro stations are also located near the Mall, to the north. [142] The L'Enfant Plaza, Federal Center Southwest and Capitol South Metro stations are located several blocks south of the Mall. [143] Metrobus and the DC Circulator make scheduled stops near the Mall. [144]

Bicycles

The NPS provides parking facilities for bicycles near each of the major memorials as well as along the National Mall. [145] From March to October, an NPS concessionaire rents out bicycles at the Thompson Boat Center, located near the intersection of Virginia Avenue NW and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the Lincoln Memorial along the Potomac River-Rock Creek Trail. [145] [146] The first two of five approved Capital Bikeshare stations opened on the National Mall on March 16, 2012, shortly before the start of the 2012 National Cherry Blossom Festival. [147]

The National Mall is the official midpoint of the East Coast Greenway, a 2,900 mile–long system of shared-use bicycle trails linking Calais, Maine, with Key West, Florida. [148]

Pedicabs

The NPS licenses pedicab drivers to provide transportation and tours of the National Mall through its Commercial Use Authorization program. [149]

Motor vehicle parking

General visitor parking is available along Ohio Drive SW, between the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. Bus parking is available primarily along Ohio Drive, SW, near the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials and along Ohio Drive SW, in East Potomac Park. There is limited handicapped parking at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and World War II Memorials and near the Washington Monument and the Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln, Korean War Veterans, and Vietnam Veterans Memorials; otherwise, parking is extremely scarce in and near the Mall. [150]

In April 2017, the NPS awarded a contract for the installation of parking meters on streets and in parking areas on the Mall. On June 12, 2017, the NPS and the District of Columbia Department of Public Works began to enforce metered parking on approximately 1,100 parking spaces in which motorists could previously park without charge. [150] [151]


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