Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
—[The Newseum Terrace] —
From the Capitol to the White House, Pennsylvania is “America’s Main Street,” a ceremonial avenue that for more than 200 years has provided a setting for the free expression that embodies the First Amendment. The 1.2-mile corridor has played host to the inaugural celebrations as well as the funeral processions of presidents. Triumphant parades and angry demonstrations also have made their way down the nation’s most historic street.
Thomas Jefferson called the street Pennsylvania Avenue in a 1791 letter, the earliest known reference to the name. But there is no definitive explanation of why the name was chosen or when it became official.
1800-1860 - The Federal City - Moving to Washington.
"Once crossing the avenue at 7th Street, our young druggist lost a shoe, which sank into the ooze and was with some difficulty recovered." - Dr. William Gunton, 1807.
French-born architect Pierre L'Enfant, who was hired by George Washington in 1791 to design the new federal cit, had big plans for the city's main street: "The grand avenue connecting both the palace and the federal house will be most magnificent and most convenient." But Pennsylvania Avenue was just a dirt road in 1800, when the federal government officially moved the nation's capital from Philadelphia
1861-1865 - Civil War Years - Command Center for War.
The Civil War turned Washington into the command center of a national war effort. The population soared as military troops, medical workers and journalists poured into town. Saloons, gambling houses and other kinds of entertainment prospered. After the Western Union telegraph office moved to a building on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, news bureaus soon filled what became known as "Newspaper Row." The year 1865 witnessed three extraordinary processions on the avenue - Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration, his funeral procession and the grand review of the troops that celebrated the Union's victory in the Civil War.
1866-1912 - Enterprising Era - Growth of Communications.
Washington was bustling in the years after the Civil War as a new age of invention and business swept the country. New wood-block pavement was laid on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1871. Two new newspapers set up shop on or near the avenue--The Washington Post in 1877
1913-1945 - Washington in Wartime and Recovery - Center of Action.
Washington was transformed by America's entry into World War I, as the city's population and federal employment grew. The suffrage movement also bloomed, and women paraded on the avenue to promote their cause. In 1919, a year after the war ended, Washington welcomed the troops home with a huge parade and victory arch on the avenue. In the postwar years, America's Main Street hosted a variety of parades and demonstrations, from frenzied baseball fans celebrating the Washington Senators' World Series victory in 1924 to "Bonus Army" veterans seeking aid during the Depression. Major redevelopment in the 1930s created new federal buildings known as the Federal Triangle. World War II spurred another population boom, and thousands of people celebrated war's end in 1945 with a giant party on the avenue.
1946-1971 - Time of Turmoil - Push for Civil Rights.
Mary Church Terrell.
Washington was a segregated city in the first half of the century, but a powerful push for equality by local activists mirrored the growing national civil rights movement. A 1953 U.S. Supreme Court ruling had the effect of most segregation in restaurants, theaters and similar establishments in Washington. Two great demonstrations, the giant March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 and the Poor People's Campaign in 1968, brought the national civil rights movement to Washington. As the country became more divided over social and economic issues, Pennsylvania Avenue drew numerous national demonstrations.
1972 to Present - The Modern Avenue - Rebirth of Main Street.
In 1972, Congress created the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., which used millions of dollars from private and government sources to renew Pennsylvania Avenue. Dilapidated historical structures such as the Willard Hotel and the Evening Star building were renovated and more than a dozen new businesses were built. Today the historic street is
Erected by the Newseum.
Location. 38° 53.564′ N, 77° 1.151′ W. Marker is in Penn Quarter, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW east of 6th Street, NW (U.S. 50). Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Andrew W. Mellon (within shouting distance of this marker); Embassy of Canada, Washington, DC (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Protecting Consumers and Competition (about 300 feet away); 601 Pennsylvania Avenue (about 400 feet away); Chief Justice John Marshall (about 400 feet away); Washington City Spring (about 500 feet away); John Marshall (about 600 feet away); Ending Slavery in Washington (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
More about this marker. Marker is on the Pennsylvania Avenue Terrace - Level 6 of the Newseum.
Also see . . .
1. Newseum. (Submitted on October 27, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site (Submitted on September 8, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. The Hank Greenspun Terrace
Categories. • African Americans • Notable Places • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 25, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 713 times since then. Photos: 1. submitted on October 25, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 26, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 6, 7. submitted on October 27, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on October 28, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.