Essential Architecture- Washington D.C.

The Mall


conceived by Peter (Pierre) Charles L'Enfant in his plans for the city of Washington, D.C., created in .


Washington, D.C.


concept 1791






The National Mall

1. Washington Monument
2. National Museum of American History
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
7. U.S. Capitol
8. Ulysses S. Grant Memorial
9. United States Botanic Garden
10. National Museum of the American Indian (under construction at time satellite image was taken)
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

The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States of America. However, the term commonly includes the areas that are officially part of West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the west, and often is taken to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, with the Washington Monument providing a division slightly west of the center.

The National Sylvan Theater, southeast of the Washington Monument, is also part of the Mall, although it is not numbered in the image. As popularly understood, the National Mall also includes the following areas west of the Washington Monument: the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool, the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, scheduled for completion in 2008, will be located on a 4 acre (16,000 m²) site that borders the Tidal Basin and within the sightline of the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.

Other nearby attractions

View from the front of the United States Capitol, facing west across the Mall. Directly in front is the equestrian statue of the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, with the Washington Monument in the background, and partially visible beyond which is the Lincoln Memorial. Reaching above the trees are the green dome of the National Museum of Natural History to the right, and the towers of the Smithsonian Institution Building to the left.

Other attractions within walking distance of the Mall 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 Jefferson Memorial), the National Archives, World War 2 Memorial, the Old Post Office, the National Theatre, Ford's Theater, and the Albert Einstein Memorial to the north; the National Postal Museum, and Union Station to the northeast; and the Jefferson Memorial (on a line directly south of the White House), the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the George Mason Memorial, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to the south.

The 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.

The idea for the National Mall was originally conceived by Peter (Pierre) Charles L'Enfant in his plans for the city of Washington, D.C., created in 1791. However, his ideas were not realized until the beginning of the 20th century, with the McMillan Commission plan, which was also inspired by the City Beautiful Movement. Among other things, the McMillan plan called for moving the main railroad station from a site on the National Mall to its present location at Union Station.

The United States Congress passed the Reserve Act of 2003 to forbid further construction in the core of the National Mall.

Protests and rallies

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at the Mall as viewed from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The 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 massive rally for African-American civil rights, at which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The largest officially recorded rally was the Vietnam War Moratorium Rally on October 15, 1969. Although larger rallies may have occurred since that time, the United States Park Police no longer release official estimates of crowd sizes on the Mall. One later rally that is claimed to have been the largest rally on the Mall was the 2004 March for Women's Lives. On January 27, 2007, tens of thousands of protesters opposed to the Iraq War, converged here, drawing comparisons by participants to the Vietnam War protest.

The National Mall has long served as a spot for jogging, picnics, and light recreation for the Washington population. It is also host to several annual events. Every year on July 4th, the Capitol Fourth celebration takes place at the U.S. Capitol end of the mall, with a fireworks display. On Monday nights during July and August, the mall hosts the annual Screen on the Green movie festival. The free classic movies are projected on large portable screens and typically draw crowds of thousands of people.

On 7 July 2007, one leg of Live Earth was held at the Mall. Al Gore presented, and such artists as Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood performed.

The National Mall is accessible via Washington Metro, with the Smithsonian station located on the south side of the mall, near the Smithsonian Institution Building and between the Washington Monument and Capitol Hill. The Federal Triangle, Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter, and Union Station metro stations are also located near the mall, to the north. L'Enfant Plaza, Federal Center Southwest and Capitol South metro stations are located a few blocks south of the mall.

The Metrobus and DC Circulator travel and stop around the National Mall. Parking is also available south of the mall, accessible directly south of the Lincoln Memorial.