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Federal Triangle in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

G-Men and G-Women

Make No Little Plans

 

—Federal Triangle Heritage Trail —

 
G-Men and G-Women Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
1. G-Men and G-Women Marker
Inscription. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is headquartered across Pennsylvania Avenue from this spot. Thanks to popular media, it may be one of the better-known government agencies. Since the 1930s Hollywood has found great stories among the "G-men" (government agents). The FBI often cooperates in these productions.

The FBI was established in 1908 as the Justice Department's detective unit. Its agents investigated allegations of investment fraud, opium smuggling, munitions trafficking, and other federal crimes. The agency's power increased during national security crisis and as it brought mob figures and other violent criminals to justice. Under the half-century directorship of native Washingtonian J. Edgar Hoover, the bureau grew in responsibility and helped professionalize modern law enforcement, emphasizing scientific analysis. Drawing on a century of experience, the modern FBI protects the nation against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, enforces U.S. criminal laws, and provides leadership for the nation's law enforcement organizations.

Formerly housed in the Department of Justice building to your left, the FBI relocated across the street in 1975. Designed by Charles F. Murphy, the building's modern brutalist style (from the French "Béton brut," or raw concrete) contrasts with the earlier buildings of Federal Triangle.

On
Zimbalist and Hoover image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
2. Zimbalist and Hoover
Actor Efram Zimbalist, Jr., left, photographed with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1865, played an FBI inspector in a 1960s television series.
this corner you can see the Justice Department's classically inspired Art Deco style night doors, torchares (light fixtures), and other decorative aluminum features. High above the doors is a colorful mosaic ceiling by local artist/craftsman John Joseph Earley.

Looking to your left along 10th Street, you can see the continuation of the city's street plan as Federal Triangle buildings frame the view to the National Museum of Natural History.

(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
Children's Toys image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
3. Children's Toys
This 1930s child's badge, whistle, and handcuffs set was inspired by the increasingly famous FBI agents, or "G-men," of the Hoover era.
the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was not completed until 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
Photos on the Center Right of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
4. Photos on the Center Right of Marker
FBI agents of the 1940s scientifically test soil samples, analyze fingerprints, and break a coded message. New agents practice dusting a car for fingerprints under the watchful eye of a supervisor, mid-1960s.
McMillan Commission.

For more information on Federal Triangle buildings, 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 3.)
 
Location. 38° 53.646′ N, 77° 1.551′ W. Marker is in Federal Triangle, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street, NW, on the right when traveling east on Pennsylvania Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20530, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Pennsylvania Avenue (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Permanence and Grandeur: Building the Federal Triangle (about 300 feet away); Preserving the Past (about 600 feet away); Equal Justice Under the Law (about 600 feet away); In Memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (about
Before the J. Edgar Hoover Buidling image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
5. Before the J. Edgar Hoover Buidling
The FBI building replaced these 19th-century commercial buildings, photographed in 1968.
700 feet away); Grandeur for the People (about 800 feet away); Nathan Hale (about 800 feet away); The Christian Index (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Federal Triangle.
 
Categories. Government
 
Concrete Mosaic Ceiling image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
6. Concrete Mosaic Ceiling
A detail from an Art Deco style concrete mosaic ceiling by John Joseph Earley above a driveway to the Justice Department courtyard.
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
7. Back of Marker
National Crime Information Center image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
8. National Crime Information Center
The FBI's National Crime Information Center, pictured here in 1967, computerized mug shots, crime reports, and other data to link police agencies nationwide.
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
G-Men and G-Women Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
10. G-Men and G-Women Marker
The J. Edgar Hoover Building image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
11. The J. Edgar Hoover Building
Looking across the street from the marker.
The J. Edgar Hoover Building image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 9, 2012
12. The J. Edgar Hoover Building
 
 
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 362 times since then and 21 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, 12. submitted on August 25, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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