Discovering USA’s History: A Walk Through the National Mall

Preserving Our Nation's Legacy: The National Mall's Historic Preservation Efforts

The National Mall, also known as “America’s Front Yard,” is located in the heart of the District of Washington and is surrounded by some of the city’s most famous landmarks, memorials, and institutions. The National Mall Circulator offers convenient access to the park’s 29 sports areas, 14 institutions, and 13 memorials and structures. The monuments of Washington, Lincoln, King, Jr., and the Vietnam War are among the most visited attractions.

The National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian are just a few of the world-class museums located on the National Mall.

The National Mall is a large, beautifully designed park in central Washington, D.C. It is home to and surrounded by several Smithsonian museums, as well as other art galleries, cultural centers, and memorials and sculptures. Part of the National Park System’s Mall and Memorial Parks, it is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) under the U.S. Department of the Interior. Roughly 24 million people visit the park every year.

The heart of the National Mall is tucked between the grounds of the United States Capitol to the east and the famous Washington Monument to the west, with a number of museums and a government office complex lining the north and south sides.

West Potomac Park to the south and west, and on the other hand, Constitution Gardens to the north are all technically part of the neighborhood around the National Mall, which stretches from the amazing Lincoln Memorial to the west to the Jefferson Memorial to the south.

National Mall's View
National Mall’s View

The National Mall, or simply the Mall, is a large green space and pedestrian walkway in Washington, DC, stretching westward from the Capitol Building to the Potomac River past the Lincoln Memorial.

Attractions and sights located in and near National Mall

The length of the National Mall is the same as the length of the grounds of the Capitol building; it is bordered to the north by Constitution Avenue and to the south by Independence Avenue, and it is traversed to the east and west by Madison, Washington, Adams, and Jefferson Drives, beginning at the northern end.

The Smithsonian Institution’s headquarters, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of American History, the Freer Gallery of Art, and even National Air and Space Museum, the Arts and Industries Building, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden are all located on or near the Mall.

The Washington Monument, Sylvan Theater, and a section of the Tidal Basin are all located west of 14th Street, as is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, and the Lincoln Memorial.

The History of the National Mall

The National Mall in Washington, DC, is visited by around 25 million people every year, many of whom are oblivious to the area’s rich history. It took more than 100 years for the original concept of The Mall to be developed and converted into the public plaza that it is today. The National Mall was conceived in 1791 and brought to life in 2016, and it continues to develop to this day.

The History of the National Mall
The History of the National Mall

Washington, DC, was chosen by George Washington, and French engineer Pierre L’Enfant was hired to plan the city. L’Enfant envisioned a “grand avenue” framed by trees and gardens that would run through the heart of Downtown DC in 1791.

The National Mall, which he envisioned, is a verdant area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol Building, with the Washington Monument dividing the two sides.

Before Washington’s big plan was finished, L’Enfant was fired for demolishing the home of a significant local landowner to make way for a new road. It wasn’t until the McMillan Commission’s urban renewal plan to spruce up the city and create a network of parks in 1902 that the concept of a “national mall” was revived.

The Mall’s central location in the city was preserved as it had been in L’Enfant’s original design. It was built to replace the disjointed 19th-century gardens and industrial structures with one large open area. However, instead of a majestic boulevard, a wide grassland was laid out.

Tourists go to the National Mall each year in the hopes of finding unique items for sale. Instead, the area around the country’s most frequented national park is filled with free, world-class museums. But then why does it refer to itself as a mall?

National Mall
National Mall

Mall was a gathering spot for players of pall-mall, a game similar to croquet, in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since sports were also social events, the word “grass field” came to refer to any open space where people felt comfortable congregating.

The term “mall” was initially used to describe L’Enfant’s “grand avenue” design, but the McMillan Commission, a century later, was the first to formally coin the area as the National Mall.

The National Mall is now one of America’s most recognizable and significant sites thanks to its new lighting system. Protests against the Vietnam War in 1969 and the March on Washington for Employment and Freedom in 1963 are just two examples of the many significant political demonstrations and speeches that took place there.

The Mall, sometimes known as “America’s Front Yard,” is currently home to over sixty-five memorials. However, the Mall shuts down as well when the government does. For 16 days straight during the government shutdown in 2013, the Mall saw almost no foot traffic.

Due to the entire cessation of federal financing, all museums and monuments were forced to close. Hopefully, it won’t happen again, so you may enjoy the National Mall’s history and architecture in peace.

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