Monday, April 03, 2006

The Legacy

1791: The L'Enfant Plan: named for the French architect, Pierre Charles L'Enfant (born August 2, 1754, died June 14, 1825), established the basic surface road grid and the National Mall west from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument site.

Conforms to regional transportation infrastructure needs by including an open canal along Constitution Avenue, that turned south along South Capitol Street to split to a pair of canals, one to the southwest and one to the southeast.


1901: The McMillan Commission: named for U.S. Senator from the State of Michigan, James McMillan (born May 12, 1838- died August 10, 1902).


This names its four (4) designers: architects Daniel Burnham (born September 4, 1846- died June 1, 1912), Charles Follen McKim (born August 24, 1847- died September 14, 1909), Sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens (born March 1, 1848- died March 3, 1907), and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead (born April 26, 1822- died August 28, 1903).

Illustrations: Burnham (top left), McKim (top right),
St. Gaudens
(left), Olmstead (right)

It could otherwise be called the Burnham/McKim/St.Gaudens/Olmstead Plan.

This effort for downtown Washington, D.C. established the western extension of the National Mall via new land fill, with the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial and Traffic Circle, which was completed in 1922. This marked what was called the "City Beautiful" approach to urban planning.

It also conformed with transportation infrastructure needs, but with reconstructions making it more friendly for the adjoining areas down-town, replacing the B&O segment across the Mall with a new tunnel starting at a new Beaux Arts Union Station (with its curvature applied to adjacent Massachusetts Avenue NW) and running beneath 1st Street NE/SE, emerging at C Street SE (due to the slope) before entering a covered tunnel along Virginia and Maryland Avenues SW.

It also went beyond the downtown area to include a circumferential road that would link Washington, D.C.'s historic forts.

Illustration: McMillan Commission "Fort Drive"

Various Links:

A Monumental City

The L'Enfant and McMillan Plans

Open Space Design in the National Capital Region

McKim, Mead and White

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