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The Columbian Institute was a Washington organization dedicated to the promotion of the arts and sciences for the benefit of the nation. In 1820, two years after their official charter was approved by Congress, the Institute was granted five acres of…

This detail of the bird's eye view of the city, "The national capital, Washington, D.C. Sketched from nature by Adolph Sachse, 1883-1884" shows the National Mall before the Army Corps of Engineers began to dredge the Potomac River to fill in the…

In 1863, the Commissioner of Public Buildings offered the Department of Agriculture the land between 12th and 14th streets and North and South B Streets (today's Constitution and Independence Avenues) for use as an experimental garden for…

This photograph was taken from the roof of the Smithsonian Castle around 1886. The small building on the left between the Smithsonian and the Washington Monument is the old Department of Agriculture Building, with its formal garden to the right…

This photograph was taken from the top of the Washington Monument in 1942. The Smithsonian Castle and National Museum of Natural History are visible in the middle of the picture. In the 1930s, the trees on the Mall were removed and rows of American…

In this passage, Margaret Bayard Smith describes the Mall as it was when she first arrived in Washington in 1800, a plain covered in trees, shrubs, and flowers. By the time she wrote this passage in 1837, the banks of the Tiber had been transformed…

In the 1930s, the National Park Service moved forward with a plan to remove trees on the Mall and replace them with rows of American Elms. Katherine Rowland worked in an office near the Mall and wrote to the editors of the Washington Post to protest…

Andrew J. Downing presented this proposal for a landscape design of the National Mall to President Millard Fillmore in February 1851. He incorporated the Capitol's western front (left) and White House grounds (right), fulfilling Pierre L'Enfant's…

In 1840, Secretary of War Joel Poinsett commissioned Robert Mills to create a plan for the recently proposed Smithsonian Institution's building and the grounds from the Capitol to the future site of the Washington Monument. Mills broke the Mall into…

The brick Baltimore and Ohio Railway Depot stood at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Second Street on lots formerly occupied by a cabinet maker and a boarding house. Fitted with offices, living rooms, and a waiting room, an agent and a…
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