A lack of vision on the Mall
By Judy Scott Feldman
Columnist John Kelly’s April Fools’ satire, “A fool’s monumental errand, in more ways than one,” revealed a sad truth: Our monument to George Washington has never received its intended landscape setting.
The vast grounds are a void at the center of the Mall’s cross axis. The McMillan Commission of 1902 planned for the monument grounds to be “the gem of the Mall system” with lush gardens and water features to furnish a welcoming destination for visitors and a fitting setting for the obelisk “so great and so simple that it seems to be almost a work of nature.”
Yet in the 1930s, Congress abandoned the 9McMillan concept out of concern that construction could undermine the monument’s foundation. In 2004, security walls added a completely new design feature. Meanwhile, at the original intended symbolic location for the monument stands a simple granite block unnoticed by the Mall’s 25.million annual visitors.
The Mall desperately needs a vision for the monument grounds that responds to the modern needs of our country and capital city but also gives expression, at long last, to the great legacy of the historic visions. Next time you’re down there, take a hard look.
The writer is chair of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall.
| April 6, 2010; 6:53 PM ET
Categories: D.C., HotTopic | Tags: John kelly April fool's day, Judy Scott Feldman, National Coalition to Save Our Mall, The Mall, Washington Monument
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