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Matthew Gilmore: Tilting Washington’s National Mall

  • Monday, May 17, 2021
  • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Zoom

Sponsored in partnership with the Boston, California, Chicago, New York, Philip Lee Phillips, Rocky Mountain, and Texas Map Societies

Location: Zoom

Time:  7:00 pm ET/6:00 pm CT/5:00 pm MT/4:00 pm PT

Title: Tilting Washington’s National Mall

Speaker:  Matthew Gilmore. Washington, DC, author, columnist, speaker, and blogger.

One of the major decisions the Senate Park (or McMillan) Commission made in 1901 was to create a new centerline for the National Mall, around which to shape its design. Instead of drawing it directly east/west from the Capitol, continuing the line of East Capitol Street, they deflected it southward to pass through the Washington Monument. This was to cope with the design flaw of the misplaced Washington Monument. This was not entirely new... a few others seem to have considered this as a solution before the Commission did.

But most other planners had a raft of other ideas whether to or how to cope with the "misplacement" of the Washington Monument, generally designing around it, but not reorienting the entire landscape.

This new centerline (and the width of the Mall proposed by the Commission) became a key design element and determined the location and (even) design of the buildings on the Mall--including the Department of Agriculture and the New National Museum (now the National Museum of Natural history). It was a factor in the location of the Grant Memorial. It determined the location of the Lincoln Memorial. In the process, the highest politicians in the land were involved. And ultimately, President Theodore Roosevelt was required to make the decisive move to enforce it.

Planning to attend?   

RSVP to John Docktor at washmap@gmail.com to receive the Zoom meeting ID and passcode.

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