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Map of the Week Vol. 10 – Development of the area west and east of the Capitol – 1941

by Prince Of Petworth April 10, 2013 at 11:00 am 4 Comments


Click map to enlarge. Source: Library of Congress

Map of the Week is written by David A., a systems librarian and map geek living in Mt. Pleasant. David previously wrote about Rand, McNally & Co.’s D.C. in 1903.

Title: Development of the central area west and east of the Capitol–Washington D.C. 1941

What if the National Mall extended all the way to the Anacostia River? This 1941 plan from the National Capital Park and Planning Commission called for the mall to bisect the city along its east/west axis from the Lincoln Memorial to present-day RFK Stadium. The plan would have involved the razing of a huge swath of residential row houses east of the Capitol in favor of federal office buildings, “semi-public buildings,” parking lots and broad avenues.

Other highlights include a basin for historic ships at the site of the Kennedy Center, a Massachusetts Avenue bridge over the Anacostia, and a sports complex next to Kingman Lake that included a tennis arena, natatorium and baseball fields.

  • Anonymous

    I’m curious to know why this fell through. The obvious guess is that the war took up any available funding to make this happen, but I wonder if public outcry against imminent domain had much to do with this plan falling through.

    I know that public protests in the 70s prevented the building of various highways from dicing up DC. Have there been prominent imminent domain claims within DC proper?

  • bb

    I guess they razed SW instead of Capitol Hill… Our local baseball franchise should branch out into swimming and create a “Natatorium”.

  • ET

    Gads. Weird to think of East Capitol street as being office buildings. But this was before the war when hordes of people came to the city for the War effort. I would guess the War took attention off of this idea. By the times things changed there were much bigger plans.

    Congress passed the District of Columbia Redevelopment Act of 1945 to address the blighted areas in DC. I think this is what led to the leveling of SW. Also, see the Berman v. Parker case that reached the Supreme Court.

  • Will

    This would’ve razed the home I live in now, and a really great neighborhood would’ve been bisected by another federal no man’s land. Glad they didn’t do it, though we’re still waiting on that sports complex where the RFK parking lots are now.


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