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Federal Triangle in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Keeping it Green

Make No Little Plans

 

—Federal Triangle Heritage Trail —

 
Keeping it Green Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
1. Keeping it Green Marker
Inscription. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the youngest agency housed here in the Federal Triangle. Established as an independent agency in 1970, EPA protects human health and the environment through science, transparency, and the rule of law.

This building, designed by San Francisco architect Arthur Brown, Jr., originally housed the Interstate Commerce Commission, which regulated transportation of goods between the states. Like its Federal Triangle neighbors, the building was richly finished inside with limestone and marble ornamented with decorative paintings and carvings. Adorning the pediment behind you is Wheeler Williams's Commerce and Communications, dominated by the messenger Mercury leaning against his steed while being blown through the clouds. An American eagle perches majestically over his shoulder. Just ahead is Interstate Transportation by Edward McCartan, its nude female reclining on a seahorse amid dolphins symbolizing the energy of interstate transportation.

To showcase the EPA's presence in the complex, these buildings were rehabilitated between 1994 and 2001 by the U.S. General Services Administration in partnership with EPA. While adhering to strict historic preservation standards, the renovation introduced 21st-century green design innovations such as recycled building materials, low-emission
Doors of EPA East Building image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
2. Doors of EPA East Building
Doors of nickel silver open to a restored lobby inside the EPA East Building.
paints, energy-saving lighting and mechanical systems, low-flow water fixtures and supplementary rainwater cisterns.

The EPA buildings overlook Constitution Avenue, the path of the old Washington Canal. Conceived by city designer Pierre L'Enfant and designed by architect Benjamin Latrobe, the canal made Tiber Creek into a navigable waterway connecting the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. Barges transported materials to build the new city via the canal. Eventually, though, the canal became an open sewer. It was paved over in the 1870s.

(Back):
You are standing in the Federal Triangle, a group of buildings whose grandeur symbolizes the power and dignity of the United States. Located between the White House and the Capitol, these buildings house key agencies of the U.S. Government.

The Federal Triangle is united by the use of neoclassical revival architecture, drawing from styles of ancient Greece and Rome that have influenced public buildings throughout the ages. Although each structure was designed for a specific government department or agency, they all share limestone façades, red-tiled roofs and classical colonnades. Their architectural features, following traditions of the Parisian School of Fine Arts (École des Beaux-Arts), illustrate each building's original purpose. Most of the Federal Triangle was constructed between 1927 and 1938. However,
EPA Scientist and Keystone image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
3. EPA Scientist and Keystone
Left: An EPA scientist collects samples of desert life forms to check for contamination near Las Vegas, NV, 2009.

Right: This limestone face is one of 11 keystones you can see over entrances and windows in this complex.
the Old Post Office and the John A. Wilson Building survive from an earlier era, while the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was not completed until 1998.

In 1791 Pierre L'Enfant designed a city plan for the new cpaital in Washington under the direction of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The L'Enfant Plan overlaid broad avenues on a street grid with areas reserved for prominent buildings and parks. This area originally followed L'Enfant's vision as a center for businesses serving the municipal and federal governments. By the time of the Civil War (1861-1865), it had become a hodgepodge of boarding houses, stables, and light industry. This disarray, and the growing need for government office space, led to calls for redevelopment. In 1901 the Senate Park Commission, known as the McMillan Commission, created a new plan for Washington's parks and monumental areas and redefined the Triangle as a government center. In 1926 Congress authorized a massive building program that drew inspiration from classical architecture to create today's monumental Federal Triangle.

Make No Little Plans: Federal Triangle Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, D.C. Walking Trail. The self-guided, 1.75-mile tour of 16 signs offers about one hour of gentle exercise. Its theme comes from "Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood.
Commerce and Communications image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
4. Commerce and Communications
Wheeler Williams, his assistant, and the horse-model stand below the clay version of Williams's Commerce and Communications.
Make big plans," attributed to visionary Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, chair of the McMillan Commission.

For more information on Federal Triangle buildings, please visit www.gsa.gov. For more information on DC neighborhoods and walking tours, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.

Make No Little Plans: Federal Triangle Heritage Trail is produced by the U.S. General Services Administration in collaboration with the District Department of Transportation and Cultural Tourism DC.

 
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 12.)
 
Location. 38° 53.537′ N, 77° 1.761′ W. Marker is in Federal Triangle, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Constitution Avenue NW, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20229, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Legacy of War (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); From Workers to Environment (about 400 feet away); The Division (about 400 feet away); Our Tax Dollars (about 500 feet away); U. S. Post Office Department (about 600 feet away); Arts and Artists
Washington Canal image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
5. Washington Canal
The Washington Canal's route from the Potomac River to the front of the U.S. Capitol, and then south to the Anacostia River can be seen in blue on this 1862 map.
(about 600 feet away); Appointed Rounds (about 700 feet away); Completing the Triangle (about 800 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Federal Triangle.
 
Categories. GovernmentNotable Buildings
 
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
6. Back of Marker
Washington Canal image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
7. Washington Canal
Artist Seth Eastman's 1851 sketch of the Washington Canal, which ran where Constitution Avenue is today, captured the base of the unfinished Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Institution's 'castle.'
Map of the Federal Triangle Heritage Trail System image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
8. Map of the Federal Triangle Heritage Trail System
Keeping it Green Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
9. Keeping it Green Marker
Rain Gardens image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
10. Rain Gardens
One of several informational markers around the EPA Building which discuss the use of green space and landscaping around Federal Triangle.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 339 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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