Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.

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For other places named Lafayette Square, see Lafayette Square.
Lafayette Square
Aerial view of Lafayette Park.jpg
Aerial view of Lafayette Square (foreground)
Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. is located in Central Washington, D.C.
Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.
Location within Washington, D.C.
LocationWashington, D.C., U.S.
Coordinates38°53′58″N 77°02′12″W / 38.899508°N 77.036558°W / 38.899508; -77.036558Coordinates: 38°53′58″N 77°02′12″W / 38.899508°N 77.036558°W / 38.899508; -77.036558
Area7 acres (2.8 ha)

Lafayette Square is a seven-acre (30,000 m²) public park located within President's Park, Washington, D.C., United States, directly north of the White House on H Street, bounded by Jackson Place on the west, Madison Place on the east and Pennsylvania Avenue on the south. It is named for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and hero of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and includes a prominent statue of early 19th century U.S. President and general Andrew Jackson on horseback. The square and the surrounding structures were designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1970.

History[edit]

First plans[edit]

Planned as part of the pleasure grounds surrounding the Executive Mansion, this square was originally part of "President's Park", which is the larger National Park Service unit that also includes the White House grounds, The Ellipse, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and grounds and the Treasury Building and grounds. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson had Pennsylvania Avenue cut through that park, separating what would become Lafayette Square from the White House grounds. In 1824, the park was officially renamed in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general whose involvement was indispensable in securing victory in the American Revolutionary War.[1][2][3]

First years[edit]

The Andrew Jackson statue (pictured circa 1900) was erected in Lafayette Park in 1853.

Lafayette Square has been used as a racetrack, a graveyard, a zoo, a slave market, an encampment for soldiers during the War of 1812, and many political protests and celebrations. In 1851, Andrew Jackson Downing landscaped Lafayette Square in the picturesque style. On February 27, 1859 Representative Daniel Sickles killed Philip Barton Key II in Lafayette Square. Key had come to the park for an assignation with Sickles' wife, only to be discovered and killed by the congressman.[4]

Current day[edit]

Today's plan, with its five large statues, dates from the 1930s. In the center stands Clark Mills' equestrian statue of President Andrew Jackson, erected in 1853. In the four corners are statues of foreign Revolutionary War heroes: Major General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette[5] and Major General Comte Jean de Rochambeau of France, Brigadier General Thaddeus Kosciuszko of Poland, and Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben of Prussia.

Thomas and Concepcion Picciotto are founders of the White House Peace Vigil, the longest running anti-nuclear peace vigil in the history of the United States, at Lafayette Square.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lafayette Square Historic District. May 1, 1802 (page 175)". National park Service.,
  2. ^ "Foundation Document: The White House and President's Park" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Reservation List: The Parks of the National Park System, Washington, DC" (PDF). www.nps.gov. National Park Service; Land Resources Program Center; National Capital Region. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  4. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2015/05/15/a-few-bad-days-in-washington-d-c-history/
  5. ^ "Major General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette, (sculpture)". Inventory of American Sculpture, Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Smithsonian American Art Museum. IAS DC000217.
  6. ^ Colman McCarthy (February 8, 2009). "From Lafayette Square Lookout, He Made His War Protest Permanent". The Washington Post.

External links[edit]