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A Second National Mall: The East Capitol Street That Might Have Been

An aerial view down East Capitol Street from RFK to the Capitol building.
Ken Hammond/Wikimedia Commons
An aerial view down East Capitol Street from RFK to the Capitol building.

As D.C. United eyes a new location at Buzzard Point, city leaders have proposed competing visions for RFK stadium and the surrounding neighborhood. It's not the first time East Capitol Street has been the subject of architectural aspirations — planning documents show it was once slated to become a second National Mall.

A plan developed by the National Capital Planning Commission (then the National Capital Park and Planning Commission) from the 1920s into the 1930s would have extended the existing corridor between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol all the way east to the Anacostia River.

In "Worthy Of The Nation: Washington DC, from L'Enfant to the National Capital Planning Commission" by Frederick Gutheim and Antoinette J. Lee, the extension is described:

As a result of continuing concern for balance and sight lines, the Planning Commission envisioned a lineal development of public and semipublic buildings along East Capitol Street, terminating in a sports center facing the Anacostia River. Also called the 'Avenue of the States' because of plans for new structures to house exhibits and information centers for each sovereign state or groups of states, the East Capitol Street corridor was to relieve traffic congestion west of the Capitol.

The plans for East Capitol Street gained graphical detail in the 1940s, as consultant William Partridge fleshed them out with a map and architectural renderings.

While RFK Stadium was ultimately built near the proposed site in view of the Anacostia River and many of the proposed buildings on the western end of the Capitol did come to pass in some form, the eastern extension got the axe as priorities changed in the District.

"I think you could say that the 1941 plan was a concept that reality overtook, largely in the form of the urgent need to expand the government in World War II and the tendency for each agency to choose its own location," says Anne Rollings with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

According to "Designing the Nation's Capitol" by the Commission of Fine Arts, a switch in emphasis to "a more dispersed and anti-monumental suburban city" also played a factor.

WAMU 88.5

The Role Of Music In Presidential Campaigns

Presidential candidates today frequently use popular pieces of music as campaign "theme songs"...often without approval from the musicians themselves. But using music on the campaign trail is not a modern phenomenon: it goes back to our earliest presidential elections. In the 1800s songs were used out of necessity: to reach potential voters who could not read. We investigate the history, evolution, and modern-day role of music in political campaigns.

NPR

From Dock To Dish: A New Model Connects Chefs To Local Fishermen

Prominent chefs are signing up for restaurant-supported fisheries: They commit to buying fresh-caught seafood, whatever the species, from local small fishermen. A pilot program launched in California.

WAMU 88.5

The Role Of Music In Presidential Campaigns

Presidential candidates today frequently use popular pieces of music as campaign "theme songs"...often without approval from the musicians themselves. But using music on the campaign trail is not a modern phenomenon: it goes back to our earliest presidential elections. In the 1800s songs were used out of necessity: to reach potential voters who could not read. We investigate the history, evolution, and modern-day role of music in political campaigns.

NPR

Yahoo CEO To Take Limited Leave After Giving Birth To Twins

NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Slate DoubleX Gabfest's Hanna Rosin about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to take just two weeks worth of parental leave after having twins in December.

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