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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

America's Main Street

Make No Little Plans

 

— Federal Triangle Heritage Trail —

 
America's Main Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
1. America's Main Street Marker
Inscription.  
The broadest and most important street in Pierre L'Enfant's Plan of 1791 for the nation's capital connects to the Capitol and the White House.

Pennsylvania Avenue. Almost every American knows its name. Almost every visitor to the Washington sets foot on it. As America's Main Street, Pennsylvania Avenue is where Americans practice their rights to free speech and assembly. It is our ceremonial stage, where the nation comes together to celebrate - new presidents, national holidays, and victories - and to mourn, as at funeral processions for seven of the eight presidents who died in office.

L'Enfant's plan called for a grid of streets broken by wide diagonal avenues offering visual connections among the city's important buildings. The avenues, he suggested, would be named for the states. Later, city authorities honored Pennsylvania, home of the nation's seat of government at the time of the Revolution, with the most central avenue.

The area where you are standing first developed in 1801 as Washington's main marketplace. In 1871 the ornate, red-brick Center Market arose just across the avenue, and shops, wholesalers,
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
2. Back of Marker
and the small businesses clustered nearby. In the 1930s the market district disappeared, replaced by the stately, classically detailed National Archives and its neighboring, grand Federal Triangle buildings.

Thirty years later, this side of the avenue had grown shabby. President John F. Kennedy noted the decline as he traveled the parade route from his inauguration at the Capitol to the White House in January 1961. President Kennedy appointed scholar and policy expert David Patrick Moynihan to plan the restoration of the avenue as the "great thoroughfare of the city of Washington."
 
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 1.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Roads & Vehicles. In addition, it is included in the Federal Triangle Heritage Trail series list.
 
Location. 38° 53.63′ N, 77° 1.36′ W. Marker is in Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest and 7th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling west on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: 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. The United States Navy Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); General Winfield Scott Hancock
America's Main Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
3. America's Main Street Marker
(within shouting distance of this marker); The Navy Memorial - from Bow to Stern (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome Aboard! (within shouting distance of this marker); Chief Petty Officers' (within shouting distance of this marker); Ceremony at the Crossroads (within shouting distance of this marker); Grandeur for the People (within shouting distance of this marker); In Memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
 
Pennsylvania Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
4. Pennsylvania Avenue
The plaza beside the Navy Memorial opens onto Pennsylvania Avenue.
L'Enfant Plan image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
5. L'Enfant Plan
The L'Enfant Plan specified the "President's house" (later White House) and "Congress house" (Capitol) as anchors for the new city.
Center Market image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
6. Center Market
Center Market, seen across the avenue in 1914, was the city's main food supplier from 1872 until it was razed for the National Archives in 1931.
Thomas Jefferson's plan for Pennsylvania Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
7. Thomas Jefferson's plan for Pennsylvania Avenue
Thomas Jefferson, who advised L'Enfant on the plan for Washington, planned these double rows of poplar trees along the 160-foot-wide Pennsylvania Avenue in 1807, Charles Burton painted them in 1824.
National American Women Suffrage Association image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
8. National American Women Suffrage Association
The National American Women Suffrage Association demands votes for women on Pennsylvania Avenue one day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, 1913.
President Eisenhower's Inaugural Parade image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
9. President Eisenhower's Inaugural Parade
Press photographers jog alongside President Dwight D. Eisenhower's car on Pennsylvania Avenue during his 1953 inaugural parade.
President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
10. President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy
President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy wave to the crowd along Pennsylvania Avenue during his inaugural parade, 1961.
Map of the Federal Triangle Heritage Trail System image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
11. Map of the Federal Triangle Heritage Trail System
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 560 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on July 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on August 21, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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Jul. 10, 2020