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Federal Triangle 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, 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
L'Enfant Plan image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
2. 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.
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."

(Back):
You are standing in the Federal Triangle, a group of buildings whose grandeur symbolizes the power and dignity of the United States. Located between the White House and the Capitol, these buildings house key agencies of the U.S. Government.

The Federal Triangle is united by the use of neoclassical revival architecture, drawing from styles of ancient Greece and Rome that have influenced public buildings throughout the ages. Although each structure was designed for a specific government department or agency, they all share limestone façades, red-tiled roofs and classical colonnades. Their architectural features, following traditions of the Parisian School of Fine Arts (École des Beaux-Arts), illustrate each building's original purpose. Most of the Federal Triangle was constructed between 1927 and 1938. However, the Old Post Office and the John A. Wilson Building survive from an earlier era, while the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was not completed until
Center Market image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
3. 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.
1998.

In 1791 Pierre L'Enfant designed a city plan for the new cpaital in Washington under the direction of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The L'Enfant Plan overlaid broad avenues on a street grid with areas reserved for prominent buildings and parks. This area originally followed L'Enfant's vision as a center for businesses serving the municipal and federal governments. By the time of the Civil War (1861-1865), it had become a hodgepodge of boarding houses, stables, and light industry. This disarray, and the growing need for government office space, led to calls for redevelopment. In 1901 the Senate Park Commission, known as the McMillan Commission, created a new plan for Washington's parks and monumental areas and redefined the Triangle as a government center. In 1926 Congress authorized a massive building program that drew inspiration from classical architecture to create today's monumental Federal Triangle.

Make No Little Plans: Federal Triangle Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, D.C. Walking Trail. The self-guided, 1.75-mile tour of 16 signs offers about one hour of gentle exercise. Its theme comes from "Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood. Make big plans," attributed to visionary Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, chair of the McMillan Commission.

For more information on Federal Triangle buildings,
Thomas Jefferson's plan for Pennsylvania Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
4. 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.
please visit www.gsa.gov. For more information on DC neighborhoods and walking tours, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.

Make No Little Plans: Federal Triangle Heritage Trail is produced by the U.S. General Services Administration in collaboration with the District Department of Transportation and Cultural Tourism DC.

 
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 1.)
 
Location. 38° 53.63′ N, 77° 1.36′ W. Marker is in Federal Triangle, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street NW, on the right when traveling west on Pennsylvania Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20004, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Chief Petty Officers' (within shouting distance of this marker); The United States Navy Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); General Winfield Scott Hancock (within shouting distance of this marker); The Navy Memorial - from Bow to Stern (within shouting distance of this marker); Ceremony at the Crossroads (within shouting distance of this marker); Grandeur for the People
National American Women Suffrage Association image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
5. 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.
(within shouting distance of this marker); In Memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Grand Army of the Republic (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Federal Triangle.
 
Categories. Roads & Vehicles
 
President Eisenhower's Inaugural Parade image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
6. President Eisenhower's Inaugural Parade
Pres photographers jog alongside President Dwight D. Eisenhower's car on Pennsylvania Avenue during his 1953 inaugural parade.
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
7. Back of Marker
President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
8. 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
9. Map of the Federal Triangle Heritage Trail System
America's Main Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
10. America's Main Street Marker
Pennsylvania Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
11. Pennsylvania Avenue
The plaza beside the Navy Memorial opens onto Pennsylvania Avenue.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 418 times since then and 28 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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