The Mall

Green lawn surrounded by walkways and buildings
The Mall, seen from the top of the Washington Monument

NPS photo, National Mall and Memorial Parks

Quick Facts
Washington, D.C.
Olmsted Designed Landscape

Bicycle - Sharing Station, Bus/Shuttle Stop, Cellular Signal, Food/Drink - Ice Cream, Food/Drink - Snacks, Parking - Auto, Pets Allowed, Public Transit, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Trash/Litter Receptacles, Water - Bottle-Filling Station, Water - Drinking/Potable, Wheelchair Accessible

While his father did some work in the district, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. had an enormous influence over the design of Washington D.C. Starting as a member of the Senate Park (McMillan) Commission in 1901, Jr. founded and served on the Commission of Fine Arts from 1910 to 1918, and was a member of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission from 1926 to 1932.

The National Capital Park and Planning Commission was tasked with restoring the National Mall to its original design as Pierre Charles L’Enfant had envisioned it. Olmsted Jr.’s redesign of the National Mall, beginning in the mid-1930s, helped to transform a densely planted Victorian park into formally arranged lawn panels lined with trees. This design would emphasize the importance of the view between the U.S. Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.

Olmsted Jr. made radical planting changes during his work on the National Mall, removing nearly every tree and replacing them with rows of American elms, following what was described in the 1901 McMillan Plan. Olmsted’s work of many decades, not just on the National Mall but Washington D.C., helped create a city threaded by parks, creating a unified special composition.

Source: "National Mall," The Cultural Landscape Foundation

For more information and primary resources, please visit:
Olmsted Research Guide Online
Olmsted Archives on Flickr

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, National Mall and Memorial Parks

Last updated: June 12, 2024