Last week, Pam and I spent two days on the National Mall in Washington DC, touring museums and walking, endlessly, to see the various monuments. The World War 2, Korean War, and Martin Luther King memorials were new since we were there in the 1990s.
People gripe that government can’t do anything right. I disagree. There are many things that government does well. And one of them is our National Mall. It’s a beautiful, impressive place. And it’s surrounded by many truly impressive, and massive, buildings.
Our National Mall looks like the center of the most powerful country on earth. Walking there, you feel the greatness.
I was particularly struck by the vision of the city’s designers. The land allocated for the National Mall must have seemed excessive at the time, and very empty. It’s a full two miles from the capital to the Lincoln Memorial. Today, the first mile (to the Washington Monument) is lined with museums, and the second mile is filled with memorials and the reflecting pool. But back in 1791, it was probably just undeveloped land. Nothing there.
I’m sure critics protested, “Why would we ever need all of this space?”
The city was designed by a French-born architect who based his plans on great European cities like Paris, Amsterdam, and Milan. Charles L’Enfant planned big, envisioning a city of grand scale, and knew the country would grow into it. What undoubtedly seemed huge back then is now, I would say, just right.
Today, the National Mall is grand, majestic, and full of meaning. The National Mall is, indeed, a national treasure.