Creating a vision for the Mall in its 3rd century

Copyright Carol Highsmith

In its clean, majestic sweep from the U.S. Capitol past the Washington Monument and on to the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall in Washington, DC, celebrates the democratic ideals of freedom, equality, and limited government on which our nation was founded. A gathering place for civic celebrations, a site for peaceful yet assertive demonstrations, the Mall is a national treasure to be cherished and protected by each generation.

Yet since Congress declared the National Mall a “substantially completed work of civic art” in 2003 (read Title II of PL 108-126 below),* the Mall has endured piecemeal growth and environmental effects that threaten the vitality and sustainability of this national treasure. The Smithsonian, the National Park Service, the Architect of the Capitol, and other Mall managers plan only for their own jurisdictions, not for the Mall as the unified landscape it was intended to be.

Copyright 2015 National Mall Coalition
Who’s in charge of the Mall? Eight different agencies manage different parts of the Mall, leading to piecemeal development. CLICK to enlarge.

To protect the integrity of the Mall and ensure its capacity to grow intelligently with our ever-evolving democracy, we need a new, comprehensive long-term plan for the “3rd Century Mall,” building on the visionary tradition of the original 1791 L’Enfant Plan (1st Century Mall) and the 1901-1902 McMillan Commission Plan (2nd Century Mall). Watch a 15-slide illustrated presentation of our concept for America’s 3rd Century Mall here.

The National Mall Coalition has advocated the establishment of an independent, McMillan-type commission that will bring all Mall constituencies to the table to create a unified plan for the Mall in its 3rd Century.

*See Title II of Public Law 108-126 below

In Title II of PUBLIC LAW 108–126—NOV. 17, 2003, Congress defined the Mall cross axis and declared the Mall a “substantially completed work of civic art.”




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