Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
“I have a dream.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. August 1963
The block-long plaza at 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue just ahead to your left honors civil rights leader Martin Luther King with the name Freedom Plaza. King completed his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in the Willard Hotel adjacent to the plaza, before delivering it to a crowd of 200,000 at the Lincoln Memorial.
Freedom Plaza also recalls Washington’s first city planner, Major Pierre L’Enfant, with a partial image of his 1791 plan for the city inscribed on its surface. L’Enfant envisioned Pennsylvania Avenue as a great ceremonial street, the symbolic link between the Capitol (which he called the Congress’s House) and the White House (which he called the President’s House). Freedom Plaza’s Open space reinforces this symbolic connection, despite the fact that the Treasury Building blocks the view of the White House, the site a result of a questionable decision in 1836 by President Andrew Jackson.
Directly across Freedom Plaza is the John A. Wilson Building, home of the government of the District
The National Theater whose marquee is visible straight ahead, has presented live theater on this spot since 1835. Rebuilt to meet the tastes of each generation, the historic “Theater of the Presidents” has entertained every First Family since its doors first opened. President Lincoln and his family attended this theater many times, and on the evening of the President’s assassination at Ford’s Theater, his son, Tad, was attending a performance here.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number W.7.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. marker series.
Location. 38° 53.773′ N, 77° 1.762′ W. Marker is in Penn Quarter, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of E Street Northwest and 13th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling west on E Street Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski (within shouting distance of this marker); Western Plaza, Pennsylvania Avenue (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Daniel Patrick Moynihan Place (about 400 feet away); The Great Seal of the United States (about 400 feet away); The Washington Post (about 400 feet away); Discover DC / Metro Center (about 500 feet away); Marion Barry, Jr. (about 500 feet away); 1317 F Street, N.W. (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
More about this marker. [Photo Captions]
above and left: Martin Luther King, Jr. completed his famous speech near here at the Willard Hotel, before delivering it to the crowds at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963.
left and above: The District of Columbia Government is housed in the Beaux-Arts building across the avenue. Seen here in an aearly 20th-century photo, the structure was for years known as the District Building until it was renamed the John A. Wilson Building in honor of the city's late council chairman, above.
right: Pierre L'Enfant's grand plan for the new federal city. A partial replica is embedded in the paving of Freedom Plaza.
below: The Washington Post , seen here about 1917, once stood in the 1300 block of E Street.
Also see . . .
1. Freedom Plaza. (Submitted on April 14, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Anne Brown - the original 'Bess' in Porgy and Bess - at the National Theater:. ... Following the show's run on Broadway, a United States tour started on January 27, 1936 in Philadelphia and traveled to Pittsburgh and Chicago before ending in Washington, D.C. on March 21, 1936. During the Washington run, the cast—as led by Todd Duncan—protested segregation at the theater. Brown said of her role in the protest, "I told them: 'I will not sing at the National. If my mother, my father, my friends, if Black (Submitted on March 11, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. Todd Duncan; Anne Brown; Porgy and Bess.
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Civil Rights • Entertainment • Government & Politics •
More. Search the internet for Freedom Plaza.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 2, 2019. This page originally submitted on April 13, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 4,466 times since then and 28 times this year. Last updated on March 11, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1. submitted on April 13, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 14, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 6. submitted on April 15, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 7, 8. submitted on April 8, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 9. submitted on November 19, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.