The Ellipse in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The National Christmas Tree
At 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, 1923, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse and “pushed the button” to light the first National Christmas Tree. A crowd of 3,000 witnessed the inaugural lighting of the 48-foot, cut Balsam fir, donated by Middlebury College, Vermont. For the next thirty years, live trees were lit at various locations on or near the White House grounds. Finally, in 1954, the ceremony returned to the Ellipse.
Cut trees served as National Christmas Trees until 1973. It was then decided to plant a permanent live tree. The current National Christmas Tree, a 40-foot Colorado blue spruce was transplanted from York, Pennsylvania, in October 1978. Since President Coolidge began the tradition in 1923, each presidential administration has participated in the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
President Coolidge lights the first National Christmas Tree in 1923.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree ceremony on Christmas Eve, 1941. The Oriental spruce, shown above in the color photograph, still stands today on the south lawn of the White House.
The National Christmas Tree decorated (above) in 1996. The Colorado blue spruce was transplanted (right) to
Erected by National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
Location. 38° 53.704′ N, 77° 2.174′ W. Marker is in The Ellipse, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of E Street, NW and the Ellipse, on the right when traveling east on E Street, NW. Touch for map. Marker is accessible to pedestrians just south of the White House. It is off the sidewalk on the south side of E Street - at the north edge of the Ellipse in President’s Park. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20005, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Zero Milestone (within shouting distance of this marker); White House Kitchen Garden (within shouting distance of this marker); William Tecumseh Sherman (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Boy Scout Memorial (about 700 feet away); Original Patentees Memorial (about 800 feet away); Alexander Hamilton Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Division War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); The United States Treasury (approx. 0.2 miles away).
Also see . . . U.S. National Christmas Tree Blown Down by Heavy Winds. (Submitted on April 1, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Categories. • Horticulture & Forestry • Man-Made Features • Notable Events • Peace •
Credits. This page was last revised on December 15, 2017. This page originally submitted on April 6, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,656 times since then and 5 times this year. Last updated on December 9, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 6, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 4. submitted on December 8, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 5. submitted on December 10, 2010, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 6, 7. submitted on December 20, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 8, 9. submitted on December 8, 2012, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 10, 11. submitted on December 8, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.