Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Temple for Our History
[National Archives Building] Make No Little Plans
—Federal Triangle Heritage Trail —
You’re standing at the National Archives Building, the first permanent repository for the original records of the federal government. They include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, displayed inside with other fascinating documents.
More than one million people visit each year to see those records and others on exhibit. Thousands research their family histories using census, land, or military pension records. Others delve into the papers of Congress and the Supreme Court, military records from the Revolution onward, documents pertaining to Native Americans, and more.
For decades Congress debated where and how to store America’s most precious documents. Over time many were damaged or destroyed. In 1913 Congress directed the treasury secretary to plan a National Archives building. Construction began in 1931, and three years later President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation creating the National Archives as a government agency.
Architect John Russell Pope, who also designed the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art, planned the building to stand out from the rest of the Federal Triangle. With 72 Corinthian columns and elaborately sculptured pediments, it embodies the importance of safeguarding historical records.
At the stairs are James
The National Archives and Records Administration maintains billions of records nationwide in presidential libraries, regional archives, and federal records centers, and a research facility in College Park, Maryland.
Construction proceeds on the building that President Herbert Hoover called “this temple of our history.” This building squarely aligns with the city’s street grid, unlike its Federal Triangle neighbors that face the diagonal Pennsylvania Avenue. National Archives and Records Administration
After 28 years on display at the Library of Congress, the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence arrive via Marine Corps armored personnel carrier and military escort for placement in the National Archive, 1952. Library of Congress
In this 1938 view of the National Archives, you can see the pediment sculpture Recorder of the Archives, by James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser. At center is the recorder of the archives flanked by men and women receiving documents. The dogs symbolize the Archives’ role as guardians. Library
A paper conservator treats the Constitution before re-housing it during the 2000-2005 renovation of the National Archives building. National Archives and Records Administration
Citizens view the Constitution in the newly renovated Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, 2004. Photography by Earl McDonald, National Archives and Records Administration
Illustration on reverse:
A workman surveys the Corinthian capitals at the tops of the National Archives’ columns, the most elaborate in the Federal Triangle.
National Archives and Records Administration
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 15 of 16.)
Location. 38° 53.533′ N, 77° 1.414′ W. Marker is in Downtown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Constitution Avenue, NW (U.S. 1/50) east of 9th Street, NW, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at the southeast corner of the Federal Triangle, across the street from the National Mall. Marker is at or near this postal address: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20408, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Nathan Hale (within shouting distance of this marker); Grandeur for the People In Memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (about 500 feet away); Market Space: Yesterday’s Town Square (about 500 feet away); Equal Justice Under the Law (about 600 feet away); The United States Navy Memorial (about 600 feet away); America's Main Street (about 600 feet away); National Intelligencer (about 700 feet away).
Categories. • Government • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 29, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 418 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on June 29, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2. submitted on October 5, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 25, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 6. submitted on June 29, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 7. submitted on August 25, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 8. submitted on June 30, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 9. submitted on August 26, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 10. submitted on June 30, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 11. submitted on June 29, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. submitted on June 30, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.