The National Mall


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The National Mall

, 232 pages

67 halftones

June 2008


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The National Mall

Rethinking Washington’s Monumental Core

The National Mall in Washington, D.C., has held an important place in the American psyche since the early nineteenth century. Home to monuments and museums dedicated to the ideals upon which the United States rests, the Mall serves as a gathering place for public protest and celebration. But as the nation ages and the population diversifies, demands for additional structures and uses have sparked debates over the Mall's future and the necessity of preserving its legacy and the vision of its designers.

The National Mall addresses these issues with a novel and compelling collection of essays, the work of leading design professionals, historians, and social scientists. Supplemented by eye-catching illustrations and photographs, this cross-disciplinary examination follows the discussion over the Mall's design and use, from its conceptual origins as part of Pierre Charles L'Enfant's vision for the capital to the 1902 McMillan Plan to the present day and beyond. It assesses how architectural, societal, and political changes have altered the park-like space between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial and explores the influence that disparate interest groups and creeping corporatism have already had on—and are likely to exert upon—America's public square.

The National Mall presents an overarching account of how a democratic society plans, creates, and expands a national ceremonial space, opening the way for a broadly based inquiry into the Mall as it was, is, and will become. Urban planners, architectural and design historians, and engaged citizens will be challenged and well served by the thoughtful essays collected by Nathan Glazer and Cynthia R. Field.

Nathan Glazer is an emeritus professor of sociology and education at Harvard University. He is the author or editor of many books on public policy and urban problems, among them The Public Face of Architecture and From a Cause to a Style: Modernist Architecture's Encounter with the American City. Cynthia R. Field is the architectural historian emerita at the Smithsonian Institution and a faculty member at the Corcoran College of Art. She is the coauthor of The Castle: An Illustrated History of the Smithsonian Building.

"The scope of this volume is such as to encompass every major development during more than a century, from planning for the re-use of an open field to today's political maneuvering."

"Collection of essays by a number of Mall-savvy authors fully explores the Mall's past, present and potential future, identifying problems and opportunities."

"The eclectic mix of essays brings together the work of historians, anthropologists, sociologists, poets, planners, and advocates who seek to 'rethink' the past and future of the Natural Mall. The collection offers some intriguing insights."

"This publication succeeds admirably in interpreting the Mall for nonexperts and alerting those with responsibility for it to the serious threats it faces."

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