L'Enfant Plan

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Original L'Enfant Plan of Washington from national archives
L'enfant plan of Washington DC.jpg
Location Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°53′26″N 77°1′13″W / 38.89056°N 77.02028°W / 38.89056; -77.02028Coordinates: 38°53′26″N 77°1′13″W / 38.89056°N 77.02028°W / 38.89056; -77.02028
NRHP Reference # 97000332
Designated  April 24, 1997[1]
L'Enfant Plan of Washington Superimposed on the Rectangular System From which He Worked (1930)[2]

The L'Enfant Plan[3] for the city of Washington is the urban plan developed in 1791 by Major Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant for George Washington, the first President of the United States.[4][5]

History[edit]

Major L'Enfant was a French engineer who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.[6] In 1789, when discussions were underway regarding a new federal capital city for the United States, L'Enfant wrote to President Washington asking to be commissioned to plan the city. However, any decision on the capital was put on hold until July 1790 when Congress passed the Residence Act.[7] The legislation, which was the result of a compromise brokered by Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, specified the new capital be situated on the Potomac River, at some location between the Eastern Branch (the Anacostia River) and the Connogochegue, near Hagerstown, Maryland. The Residence Act gave authority to President Washington to appoint three commissioners to oversee the survey of the federal district and "according to such Plans, as the President shall approve," provide public buildings to accommodate the Federal government in 1800.[8][9]

President Washington appointed L'Enfant in 1791 to plan the new "Federal City" (later named the "City of Washington") under the supervision of three Commissioners, whom Washington had appointed to oversee the planning and development of the federal territory that would later become designated the "District of Columbia". Included in the new district were the river port towns of Georgetown (formerly in Montgomery County of the State of Maryland) and Alexandria (in Fairfax County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia).[4] Thomas Jefferson, who worked alongside President Washington in overseeing the plans for the capital, sent L'Enfant a letter outlining his task, which was to provide a drawing of suitable sites for the federal city and the public buildings. Though Jefferson had modest ideas for the Capital, L'Enfant saw the task as far more grandiose, believing he was not only locating the capital, but also devising the city plan and designing the buildings.[10]

Peter Charles L'Enfant's 1791 plan for the federal capital city

L'Enfant arrived in Georgetown on March 9, 1791, and began his work, from Suter's Fountain Inn.[11] Washington arrived later on March 28, to meet with L'Enfant and the Commissioners for several days.[12] On June 22, L'Enfant presented his first plan for the federal city to the President.[13][14][15] On August 19, he appended a new map to a letter that he sent to the President.[14][16]

President Washington retained a copy of one of L'Enfant's plans, showed it to the Congress, and later gave it to the three Commissioners.[17][18] The U.S. Library of Congress now holds both the plan that Washington apparently gave to the Commissioners and an undated anonymous survey map that the Library considers L'Enfant to have drawn before August 19, 1791.[17][19]

The full plan identifies "Peter Charles L'Enfant" as its author in the last line of an oval in its upper left corner.[20] The survey map may be one that L'Enfant appended to his August 19 letter to the President.[19][21]

L'Enfant secured the lease of quarries at Wigginton Island and further southeast along Aquia Creek off the lower Potomac River southern bank in Virginia to supply well-regarded "Aquia Creek sandstone" for the foundation and later for the wall slabs and blocks of the "Congress House" in November 1791.[22] However, his temperament and his insistence that his city design be realized as a whole, brought him into conflict with the Commissioners, who wanted to direct the limited funds available into construction of the Federal buildings. In this, they had the support of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.

Andrew Ellicott's 1792 revision of L'Enfant's 1791 plan for the "Federal City", later Washington City, District of Columbia.

During a contentious period in February 1792, Andrew Ellicott, who had been conducting the original boundary survey of the future District of Columbia (see: Boundary Stones (District of Columbia)) and the survey of the "Federal City" under the direction of the Commissioners, informed the Commissioners that L'Enfant had not been able to have the city plan engraved and had refused to provide him with the original plan (of which L'Enfant had prepared several versions).[23][24] Ellicott, with the aid of his brother, Benjamin Ellicott, then revised the plan, despite L'Enfant's protests.[23][24][25] Ellicott's revisions, which included the straightening of the longer avenues and the removal of L'Enfant's Square No. 15, created changes to the city's layout (See: Randolph Square).[26]

Andrew Ellicott stated in his letters that, although he was refused the original plan, he was familiar with L'Enfant's system and had many notes of the surveys that he had made himself. It is therefore possible that Ellicott recreated the plan.[27]

Shortly thereafter, Washington dismissed L'Enfant. After L'Enfant departed, Andrew Ellicott continued the city survey in accordance with the revised plan, several versions of which were engraved, published and distributed. As a result, Ellicott's revisions subsequently became the basis for the capital city's development.[23][28]

The work of André Le Nôtre, particularly his Gardens of Versailles, is said to have influenced L'Enfant’s master plan for the capital.[29]

The Plan[edit]

L'Enfant's "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of the United States..." encompassed an area bounded by the Potomac River, the Eastern Branch, the base of the escarpment of the Atlantic Seaboard Fall Line, and Rock Creek.[15][17][30] His plan specified locations for two buildings, the "Congress House" (the United States Capitol) and the "President's House" (known after its 1815–1817 rebuilding and white-washing of its stone walls, as the "White House" or "Executive Mansion").[17]

The "Congress House" would be built on "Jenkins Hill" (later to be known as "Capitol Hill"), which L'Enfant described as a "pedestal awaiting a monument".[17][31] The "President's House" would be located at a northwest diagonal from the "Congress House" along the future Pennsylvania Avenue.[4][17] The "President's House" would be situated on a ridge parallel to the Potomac River, north of a riverfront marsh and a canal (known as "Tiber Canal" or the "Washington City Canal" during the 1800s).[4][17][31]

L'Enfant envisioned the "President's House" to have public gardens and monumental architecture. Reflecting his grandiose visions, he specified that the "President's House" (occasionally referred to as the "President's Palace") would be five times the size of the building that was actually constructed, even then becoming the largest residence then constructed in America.[10] Emphasizing the importance of the new nation's legislature, the "Congress House" would be located on a longitude designated as 0:0.[16][20][32][33]

The plan specified that most streets would be laid out in a grid. To form the grid, some streets (later named for letters of the alphabet) would travel in an east-west direction, while others (named for numbers) would travel in a north-south direction. Diagonal broader avenues, later named after the states of the Union, crossed the north/south-east/west grid.[17][33][34][35] The diagonal avenues intersected with the north-south and east-west streets at circles and rectangular plazas that would later honor notable Americans and provide open space.[17]

L'Enfant laid out a 400 feet (122 m)-wide garden-lined "grand avenue", which he expected to travel for about 1 mile (1.6 km) along an east-west axis in the center of an area that would later become the National Mall.[18][34] He also laid out a narrower avenue (Pennsylvania Avenue) which would connect the "Congress House" with the "President's House".[16][34] In time, Pennsylvania Avenue developed into the capital city's present "grand avenue".

L'Enfant's plan additionally laid out a system of canals (later designated as the Washington City Canal) that would pass the "Congress House" and the "President's House". One branch of the canal would empty into the Potomac River south of the "President's House" at the mouth of old Tiber Creek, which would be channelized and straightened.[17][34]

List of contributing parks[edit]

[4]

List of contributing avenues[edit]

List of contributing streets[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Partridge, p. 33.
  3. ^ "The L'Enfant Plan". A Monument To Democracy: History of the Mall: The 1791 L'Enfant Plan and the Mall. National Coalition to Save Our Mall. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Leach, Sara Amy; Barthold, Elizabeth (1994-07-20). "L'Enfant Plan of the City of Washington, District of Columbia" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. United States Department of the Interior: National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  5. ^ L'Enfant identified himself as "Peter Charles L'Enfant" during most of his life, while residing in the United States. (See: Bowling, 2002) He wrote this name on his "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of t(he) United States ...." (Washington, D.C.) and on other legal documents. However, during the early 1900s, a French ambassador to the U.S., Jean Jules Jusserand, popularized the use of L'Enfant's birth name, "Pierre Charles L'Enfant". (See: Bowling (2002).) The National Park Service has identified L'Enfant as "Major Peter Charles L'Enfant" and as "Major Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant" in its histories of the Washington Monument on its website. The United States Code states in 40 U.S.C. § 3309: "(a) In General.—The purposes of this chapter shall be carried out in the District of Columbia as nearly as may be practicable in harmony with the plan of Peter Charles L'Enfant."
  6. ^ "The L'Enfant and McMillan Plans". Washington, D.C., A National Register of Historic Places Travel Inventory. National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-01-08. 
  7. ^ Reps, John William (1965), "9. Planning the National Capital", The Making of Urban America, Princeton University Press, pp. 240–242, ISBN 0-691-00618-0 
  8. ^ "An ACT for establishing the Temporary and Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  9. ^ Ellis, Joseph J. (2002). "The Dinner". Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. Vintage. pp. 50–52. ISBN 0-375-70524-4. 
  10. ^ a b Seale, William (1986). The President's House, Volume 1. White House Historical Association. pp. 1–4. 
  11. ^ Stewart, p. 50
  12. ^ Seale, William (1986). The President's House, Volume 1. White House Historical Association. p. 9. 
  13. ^ L'Enfant, P.C. (June 22, 1791). "To The President of the United States". L'Enfant's Reports To President Washington Bearing Dates of March 26, June 22, and August 19, 1791: Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Washington, D.C.: Columbia Historical Society (1899). 2: 32–37. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  14. ^ a b Stewart, p. 52
  15. ^ a b Passanneau, Joseph R. (2004). Washington Through Two Centuries: A History in Maps and Images. New York: The Monacelli Press, Inc. pp. 14–16, 24–27. ISBN 1-58093-091-3. 
  16. ^ a b c L'Enfant, P.C. (August 19, 1791). "To The President of the United States". L'Enfant's Reports To President Washington Bearing Dates of March 26, June 22, and August 19, 1791: Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Washington, D.C.: Columbia Historical Society (1899). 2: 38–48. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j (1) "Original Plan of Washington, D.C.". American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Imagination: Pierre Charles L'Enfant's 1791 "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government ....": Manuscript map on paper, 1791, Geography & Map Division. Library of Congress. 2010-07-29. Archived from the original on 2017-02-05. Retrieved 2017-03-05. Selected by Washington to prepare a ground plan for the new city, L'Enfant arrived in Georgetown on March 9, 1791, and submitted his report and plan to the president about August 26, 1791. It is believed that this plan is the one that is preserved in the Library of Congress.
    After showing L'Enfant's manuscript to Congress, the president retained custody of the original drawing until December 1796, when he transferred it to the City Commissioners of Washington, D.C. One hundred and twenty-two years later, on November 11, 1918, the map was presented to the Library of Congress for safekeeping.
     
    Note: The plan that this web page describes identifies the plan's author as "Peter Charles L'Enfant". The web page nevertheless identifies the author as "Pierre-Charles L'Enfant."
    (2) L'Enfant, Peter Charles; Library of Congress (1991). "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of t[he] United States: projected agreeable to the direction of the President of the United States, in pursuance of an act of Congress, passed on the sixteenth day of July, MDCCXC, "establishing the permanent seat on the bank of the Potowmac"". Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. LCCN 91684074. Retrieved 2017-03-05.  Full-color facsimile of Peter Charles L'Enfant's 1791 manuscript plan for the City of Washington. In: Repository of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C.
    (3) L'Enfant, Peter Charles; Library of Congress (1991). "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of t[he] United States: projected agreeable to the direction of the President of the United States, in pursuance of an act of Congress, passed on the sixteenth day of July, MDCCXC, "establishing the permanent seat on the bank of the Potowmac"". Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. LCCN 97683585. Retrieved 2017-03-05.  Computer-assisted reproduction of Peter Charles L'Enfant's 1791 manuscript plan for the city of Washington, produced by the U.S. Geological Survey for the Library of Congress. In: Repository of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C.
    (4) L'Enfant, Peter Charles; United States Coast and Geodetic Survey; United States Commissioner of Public Buildings (1887). "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of t(he) United States : projected agreeable to the direction of the President of the United States, in pursuance of an act of Congress passed the sixteenth day of July, MDCCXC, "establishing the permanent seat on the bank of the Potowmac": [Washington, D.C.]". Washington: United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Washington: Norris Peters Co. Photo-Litho.). LCCN 88694195. Retrieved 2017-03-05.  Facsimile of the 1791 L'Enfant plan. In: Repository of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C.
  18. ^ a b "The 1791 L'Enfant Plan and the Mall". National Mall History. National Mall Coalition. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  19. ^ a b L'Enfant, Peter Charles (1791). "L'Enfant's Dotted line map of Washington, D.C., 1791, before Aug. 19th". Library of Congress. LCCN 88694203. Retrieved 2017-03-05. Accompanied by positive and negative photocopies of L'Enfant's letter to George Washington, Aug. 19, 1791, the original in the L'Enfant papers, no. 0215-977, L.C. Ms. Div.  In: Repository of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C.
  20. ^ a b L'Enfant, Peter Charles; United States Coast and Geodetic Survey; United States Commissioner of Public Buildings (1887). "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of t(he) United States : projected agreeable to the direction of the President of the United States, in pursuance of an act of Congress passed the sixteenth day of July, MDCCXC, "establishing the permanent seat on the bank of the Potowmac": [Washington, D.C.]". Washington: United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (Washington : Norris Peters Co. Photo-Litho.). LCCN 88694195. Retrieved 2017-03-05.  Facsimile of the 1791 L'Enfant plan. In: Repository of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C.
  21. ^ "A Washington DC Map Chronology". dcsymbols.com. Retrieved 2009-09-30. 
  22. ^ Morgan, p. 120
  23. ^ a b c (1) Tindall, William (1914). "IV. The First Board of Commissioners". Standard History of the City of Washington From a Study of the Original Sources. Knoxville, Tennessee: H. W. Crew and Company. pp. 148–149. 
    (2) Stewart, John (1898). "Early Maps and Surveyors of the City of Washington, D.C". Records of the Columbia Historical Society. 2: 55–56. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  24. ^ a b Ellicott, Andrew (February 23, 1792). "To Thomas Johnson, Daniel Carroll and David Stuart, Esqs." In Arnebeck, Bob. "Ellicott's letter to the commissioners on engraving the plan of the city, in which no reference is made to Banneker". The General and the Plan. Bob Arnebeck's Web Pages. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  25. ^ Kite, from L'Enfant and Washington" in website of Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (Freemasons). Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  26. ^ (1) Washington Map Society: Plan of the City of Washington.
    (2) Partridge, William T. (1930). National Capital Park and Planning Commission: Chart 6: L'Enfant and Ellicott plans superimposed. L'Enfant's Methods And Features of His Plan For The Federal City: Reports and plans, Washington region: supplementary technical data to accompany annual report: National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. p. 34. OCLC 15250016. Retrieved 2016-12-04.  At HathiTrust Digital Library.
    (3) The U.S. National Archives holds a copy of "Ellicott's engraved Plan superimposed on the Plan of L'Enfant showing the changes made in the engraved Plan under the direction of President Washington". See "Scope & Contents" page of "Archival Description" for National Archives holding of "Miscellaneous Oversize Prints, Drawings and Posters of Projects Associated with the Commission of Fine Arts, compiled 1893 – 1950", ARC Identifier 518229/Local Identifier 66-M; Series from Record Group 66: Records of the Commission of Fine Arts, 1893 – 1981. Record of holding obtained through search in Archival Descriptions Search of ARC — Archival Research Catalog using search term L'Enfant Plan Ellicott, 2008-08-22.
  27. ^ Partridge, William T. (1930). L'Enfant's Methods And Features of His Plan For The Federal City. Reports and plans, Washington region: supplementary technical data to accompany annual report: National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. p. 23. OCLC 15250016. Retrieved 2016-12-04.  At HathiTrust Digital Library.
  28. ^ (1) Partridge, William T. (1930). L'Enfant's Methods And Features of His Plan For The Federal City. Reports and plans, Washington region: supplementary technical data to accompany annual report: National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. pp. 21–38. OCLC 15250016. Retrieved 2016-12-04.  At HathiTrust Digital Library.
    (2) Bowling, Kenneth R. (1988). Creating the federal city, 1774-1800 : Potomac fever. Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Architects Press. 
    (3) Bryan, W.B. (1899). "Something About L'Enfant And His Personal Affairs". Records of the Columbia Historical Society. 2: 113. 
    (4) The L'Enfant and McMillan Plans in "Washington, D.C., A National Register of Historic Places Travel Inventory" in official website of the U.S. National Park Service Accessed August 14, 2008.
  29. ^ "André Le Nôtre". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 12 Mar 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  30. ^ Faethz, E.F.M.; Pratt, F.W. (1874). "Sketch of Washington in embryo, viz: Previous to its survey by Major L'Enfant: Compiled from the rare historical researches of Dr. Joseph M. Toner … combined with the skill of S.R. Seibert C.E.". Map in the collection of the Library of Congress. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  31. ^ a b Vlach, John Michael (Spring 2004). "The Mysterious Mr. Jenkins of Jenkins Hill". United States Capitol Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  32. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1937). Washington, City and Capital: Federal Writers' Project. Works Progress Administration / United States Government Printing Office. p. 210. 
  33. ^ a b Moore, Charles (ed) (1902), "Fig. No. 61 – L'Enfant Map of Washington (1791)", The Improvement Of The Park System Of The District of Columbia: Report by the United States Congress: Senate Committee on the District of Columbia and District of Columbia Park Commission, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, p. 12, Fifty-Seventh Congress, First Session, Senate Report No. 166. 
  34. ^ a b c d High resolution image of central portion of "The L'Enfant Plan for Washington" in Library of Congress, with transcribed excerpts of key to map and enlarged image in official website of the U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
  35. ^ Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C. contains an inlay of the central portion of L'Enfant's plan, an inlay of an oval that gives the title of the plan and the name of its author (identified as "Peter Charles L'Enfant") and inlays of the plan's legends. The coordinates of the inlay of the plan and its legends are: 38°53′45″N 77°01′50″W / 38.8958437°N 77.0306772°W / 38.8958437; -77.0306772 (Freedom Plaza). The coordinates of the name "Peter Charles L'Enfant" are: 38°53′45″N 77°01′52″W / 38.8958374°N 77.031215°W / 38.8958374; -77.031215 (Inscription of name of "Peter Charles L'Enfant" in inlay of L'Enfant's plan in Freedom Plaza)

References[edit]

External links[edit]