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Facts about National Mall and Memorial Parks Unit for Kids

Gathered by: Kelly

  • The National Park Service (NPS) administers the National Mall, which is part of its National Mall and Memorial Parks unit.
  • The term National Mall commonly includes areas that are officially part of West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the west, and often is taken to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol, with the Washington Monument providing a division slightly west of the center.
  • In his 1791 plan for the future city of Washington, D.C., Pierre Charles L’Enfant envisioned a garden-lined “grand avenue” approximately 1 mile in length and 400 feet wide, in an area that would lie between the Capitol building and an equestrian statue of George Washington to be placed directly south of the White House.
  • The National Mall occupies the site of this planned “grand avenue”, which was never constructed.
  • The Washington Monument stands near the planned site of its namesake’s equestrian statue.
  • The plan differed from L’Enfant’s by replacing the 400 feet wide “grand avenue” with a 300 feet wide vista containing a long and broad expanse of grass.
  • In accordance with a plan that it completed in 1976, the NPS converted the two innermost boulevards into gravel walking paths.
  • In 1918 contractors for the United States Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks constructed the “Main Navy” and “Munitions” Buildings along nearly a third of a mile of the south side of Constitution Avenue, from 17th Street NW to 21st Street NW.
  • In 1981, the NPS prepared a National Register nomination form that documented the Mall’s historical significance.
  • In 2011, the 112th United States Congress enacted the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2012, which transferred to the Architect of the Capitol the NPS “property which is bounded on the north by Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, on the east by First Street Northwest and First Street Southwest, on the south by Maryland Avenue Southwest, and on the west by Third Street Southwest and Third Street Northwest”.
  • This Act relocated the official eastern boundary of the Mall from 1st Street NW and SW to 3rd Street NW and SW, removing Union Square from NPS jurisdiction.
  • The National Park Service states that the purposes of the National Mall are to: Provide a monumental, dignified, and symbolic setting for the governmental structures, museums and national memorials as first delineated by the L’Enfant plan and further outlined in the McMillan plan.
  • The National Mall contains the following landmarks, museums and other features: With the exception of the National Gallery of Art, all of the museums on the National Mall are part of the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Many people also believe that the Mall contains landmarks and features that are west of 14th Street NW, including the Washington Monument, the Monument’s grounds and the following: The Smithsonian Institution is constructing the National Museum of African American History and Culture on a 5 acres site between the grounds of the Washington Monument and the National Museum of American History.
  • The population of American elm trees planted on the Mall and its surrounding areas in accordance with the McMillan Plan has remained intact for the past 70 years because of disease management and immediate tree replacement.
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