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During the 1800s the White House was much more accessible than it is today and informal social events were often held at the executive mansion. In this photo, a group is picnicking on the White House grounds with the Treasury Department building…

In the 1920s, the land on the western end of the Mall was transformed from a field into the planned landscape surrounding the newly-built Lincoln Memorial, designed by architect James Greenleaf. In this photo, a two-person team tills the land near…

Foot traffic from 25 million annual visitors is hard on the Mall’s natural resources. In 2017, the National Park Service completed a restoration project that re-engineered a total of 18 acres of turf between 3rd and 14th Streets to ensure…

The National Park Service employs a team of professional arborists to ensure the continued health of the Mall's 9,000 trees. Sometimes known as "tree doctors," the arborists care for the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin, which have been a fixture…

As soon as the Japanese cherry trees were planted, Washingtonians and tourists enjoyed the blossoms every spring. Although there were cherry blossom fetes in the 1920s, they were mostly held in Hains Point. The first Cherry Blossom Festival, which…

On June 2, 1889, heavy rains caused massive flooding in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and overwhelmed the South Fork Dam. The storm also hit the Washington, DC, area. As a result, the Potomac River flooded and areas around Pennsylvania Avenue were under…

The Tidal Basin serves several purposes on the National Mall. Primarily, it is a reservoir for the Potomac River and Washington Channel. In the past, it has also served as a recreational area for swimming, ice skating, or boating. Built by Alexander…

The southern boundary of Washington, DC, is bordered by two rivers: the Potomac and the Anacostia. The rivers have long had problems with pollution from human and industrial waste. In the 1860s, President Lincoln used to complain of the smell of the…

President Adams' diary entries from June 1827 detail his regular visits to the White House garden. In this entry he describes the variety of plants in the garden, from fruit trees to common weeds. The President relied on his gardener, John Ousley, to…

Levees for flood control were first constructed on the National Mall after the Great Potomac Flood of 1936. They were north of the Reflecting Pool, extending from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. This early levee system did not…
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