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Episode 53 - By Design: The New Old Plan

Updated: May 16

So I don't know if I said this already, so forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but Pierre L'Enfant changed his named to Peter, so we should really call him by that. But everybody already knows him as Pierre, so...

The first building built on the Mall under the McMillan plan was an expansion of the Smithsonian, which now is the Museum of Natural History. It was built at the right setoff under the plan, and so it established the boundary of the Mall on the north side. It was also designed by Charles McKim, so much of the McMillan Commission was the Let Us Get Our Hands on That Sweet, Sweet Government Money Commission.

McMillan's team really was a dream team - these people had pulled off an incredible feat for the 1893 World's Fair, so they were perfect for this job. Bringing them in and then keeping them in was a stroke of both genius and luck.

The McMillan plan called for a much different set of grounds around the Washington Monument, though - that part didn't make it through, apparently - but if you look at the "future Washington" picture below, you see a National Mall pretty much as we know it, with buildings lining both sides - that didn't exist yet in 1902.

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