National Mall Amardeep Sarai
History • The history and culture associated with the National Mall, the Washington Monument Grounds, and West Potomac Park as National Parks has in fact been an on-going reflection of "American History" itself. As a setting and back drop to four major "presidential memorials" (the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial) as well as currently three "war memorials" (the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, DC War Memorial, and Korean War Veteran's Memorial), these three national park reservations are emblematic of our nation as a free and dynamic people. In essence, the memorials reflect our nation's democratic system of government in action. All of these memorials located within what is called the Federal Central Enclave of our nation's capital, Washington, DC, symbolize "milestones" in our country's over two-hundred years of history as a "free people." Moreover, all three of these national park reservations, throughout the twentieth century, have also served as a back drop and rallying ground by which our nation's citizens come to gather, to both celebrate and to make American History.
In addition to both the White House Grounds area (known as the President's Park) and the U.S. Capitol Building Grounds, the park's memorials as well continue to this day to serve as significant settings by which our nation's citizenry exercises both its constitutional and political rights of "freedom of expression." Many different groups of people who have come to the National Mall, the Washington Monument Grounds, and West Potomac Park to be heard do so through "first amendment activities." Such activities include holding demonstrations, marches/rallies and sometimes staged vigils. Once again, all of these instances are important because they reflect our ongoing free system of government here in the United States. Such major significant historic events within National Capital Parks-Central have included the following: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's. "I Have A Dream" speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in West Potomac Park on August 28, 1963; the many anti-war marches and demonstrations against the Vietnam War held along the National Mall, the Washington Monument Grounds, and West Potomac Park during the late 1960s and early 1970s; the first major Earth Day celebration held on the Washington Monument Grounds in 1971; the Million Man March conducted on the National Mall Grounds in October 1995 and the Promise Keepers rally held on the National Mall in 1997.
The creation and historical development of the three general park reservations within National Capital Parks-Central (listed as the National Mall, the Washington Monument Grounds, and West Potomac Park) are divided into two major periods: the Pre-McMillan Period of 1790 to 1900 and the Post-McMillan Period from 1901 to the present. From 1791, when Pierre L'Enfant first conceived of the National Mall as a grand-open promenade, to 1902, when the McMillan Park Commission officially presented their plan, the National Mall was in fact comprised of not one, but many separate individual parks and grounds. The history of National Capital Parks-Central may be divided into five major milestones with its development. They are as follows: the Pierre L'Enfant Plan of 1791, the Andrew Jackson Downing Plan of 1851, the McMillan Commission Plan of 1901-02, the Acquisition by the National Park Service in 1933, and the Mall Master Plan of 1966. From 1800 to 1900 there existed an almost constant deviation from Pierre L'Enfant's original vision and plan for the city's Federal Central Enclave. The one significant development during the nineteenth century within the context of the L'Enfant Plan was the building and completion of the Washington Monument. The Andrew Jackson Downing Plan of 1851 in fact represented a departure from the unified formality of the L'Enfant Plan in terms of its landscape architecture.
From 1902 onward with the McMillan Park Commission Plan and Report, the National Mall (Reservation #3), the Washington Monument Grounds (Reservation #2), and the newly created West Potomac Park (Reservation #332) symbolizes throughout the twentieth century a concerted effort and eventual triumph to return to and extend upon Pierre L'Enfant's original plan and vision for the city's Federal Central Enclave. Moreover, the McMillan Plan is significant because it represents the first effort at systematic comprehensive urban planning for a major city. The McMillan Commission consisted of a number of renowned and great classical-style architects and landscape architects. They are as follows: Daniel H. Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., Charles Moore, Augustus Saint-Gaudens , and Charles Follen McKim. During the summer of 1901, the McMillan Commissioners traveled to numerous European cities in an effort to return to the original ideas and conceptions of L'Enfant's Plan. Upon their return to the United States in the fall of 1901, these men set about the task of what becomes known as the McMillan Commission Plan and Report. Their official proposal is presented to the American public in February of 1902. In the decades that followed, all subsequent developments and park master plans as well as general management plans under the National Park Service, National Capital Parks-Central have successfully adhered to the general principles of the 1901-02 McMillan Plan. Finally, adherence to the McMillan Plan's principles throughout the twentieth century has resulted in the creation of a unified park that is to be forever symbolized as a "Pageant to over 200 years of American History."
Geometric Analysis • Washington Monument • Height 555 feet 51/8 inches (169.29 meters) • Width at base 55 feet 11½ inches • Width at top of shaft 34 feet 5½ inches • Total weight of monument 90,854 tons (82,421.4 metric tons) • Total number of blocks in monument 36,491
Bibliography • Officially established in 1965, National Mall & Memorial Parks (NMMP) contains some of the oldest protected park lands in the National Park Service. The sprawling lands of the National Mall & Memorial Parks include the Mall, the public promenade extending from 3rd Street near the Capitol to 14th Street. The National Mall is the continuation of that space where congressionally authorized park icons, such as the Washington Monument, WWII and Lincoln Memorials stand. This historic expanse is the linear area between the Potomac River and Capital Reflecting Pool. In addition to the memorial core, the park includes some 156 reservations, circles, fountains and other open spaces, all of which serve as the nation’s front yard. Ford’s Theatre, The House where Lincoln died, Potomac Park, Hains Point and Pennsylvania Avenue NHS are also among the park managed areas that constitute NMMP. Having over 1,000 acres of National Park Service managed land within the Nation’s Capital, National Mall & Memorial Parks provides visitors with abundant opportunities to commemorate presidential legacies; honor the courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty of war veterans; celebrate the United States commitment to freedom, equality and democratic ideals; and enjoy symbolic architecture, historic vistas and renowned natural landscapes.
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