Capitol Hill in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
General Plan for the Improvement of the U.S. Capitol Grounds
by Frederick Law Olmsted, 1874
Following the extension of the Capitol in the 1850s-1860s, the grounds were enlarged in 1872. In 1874 Congress commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted to design landscape improvements, and he soon produced this drawing, which guided the project over the next two decades. He described the plan as "very simple, with the purpose of its perfect subordination in interest to the architectural design of the Capitol." Olmsted's objective was to provide a dignified "park-like" setting for the Capitol, with groupings of trees and expansive vistas designed to set the Capitol square apart, as an oasis, from the surrounding, developing city. Today the grounds have evolved into an arboretum with hundreds and mature botanical specimens--many of which are rarely seen elsewhere.
1 First Street Boundary Wall, Fountain, and Lanterns
Olmsted did not include boundary walls along the perimeter of the Grounds in his original 1874 landscape design. However in an effort to separate the Capitol's tranquil setting from the bustling
Constructed in 1879-1880, the Summerhouse offered visitors a shaded place to rest, admire views of the Capitol, and have a drink of water.
3 The Olmsted Terrace
Constructed in 1884-1892 on the north, west, and south sides of the Capitol, the marble terrace provided a strong visual platform, correcting the illusion that the massive building was about to slide down Capitol Hill. It also added much-needed space for storage, shops, and committee rooms.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Architecture.
Location. 38° 53.458′ N, 77° 0.715′ W. Marker is in Capitol Hill in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is at the intersection of 1st Street Northwest and Northwest Drive Northwest, on the right when traveling north on 1st Street Northwest. On the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 128 1st Street Northwest, Washington DC 20016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Capitol Square, NW (within shouting distance of this marker); Naval Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Capitol Square, NW (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ulysses S. Grant Memorial (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Capitol Square (about 600 feet away); Robert A Taft (about 700 feet away); Capitol Square, SW (about 700 feet away); James A. Garfield (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Capitol Hill.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 8, 2019. It was originally submitted on December 13, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 137 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 13, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.