Your Ideas Are Invited in Planning
for Pennsylvania Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets

The White House and Vicinity

In May 1995 Pennsylvania Avenue between 15th and 17th Streets was closed by the Department of the Treasury to public vehicular traffic. Following the closure, the National Park Service was asked to coordinate the development of long-term plans for this area. Some interim improvements will be in place later this year.

Many people are vitally interested in how this section of Pennsylvania Avenue -- once a seven-lane thoroughfare over 80 feet wide and used daily by thousands of vehicles and pedestrians - will be used in the future. Now, you are invited to become involved in this process.

This pamphlet briefly describes the history of Pennsylvania Avenue, its current uses, and design principles for President's Park, which includes Lafayette Park, the White House grounds, and the Ellipse. It also includes a response sheet for you to tell us what you think this section of Pennsylvania Avenue should look like in the future.

There are a number of ways for you to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns about Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House.
* You may complete and return the enclosed postage paid response sheet by October 25. Tell us what qualities you would like to see as part of any future design for this area.

* You are invited to attend one of the public open houses scheduled Tuesday, October 17, and Wednesday, October 18, 1995, at the. White House Visitor Center. You will have an opportunity to talk with others who have an interest in Pennsylvania Avenue's future. National Park Service planners will be on hand to talk with you, and to listen and record your ideas. Maps, photographs, and information will be available about past and current site uses.

* Throughout the remainder of the project the National Park Service will provide information about the status of the project and encoutage you to stay actively involved.

To ensure the broadest range of ideas are gathered, the National Park Service is also contacting designers through professional organizations and working with universities for additional ideas about how this portion of Pennsylvania Avenue may look and be used in the future.

A Historical Overview of Pennsylvania Avenue

In 1791 President George Washington and Pierre Charles L'Enfant envisioned Pennsylvania Avenue as a ceremonial way and grand approach linking the White House and the Capitol., In the earliest days of the capital city the portion of Pennsylvania Avenue on the north side of the White House between 15th and 17th Streets was used as an informal access route, but between 1797 and 1824 it was developed as a formal thoroughfare. The effect of this change was to bring the public closer to the presidency, and the house became more oriented to its urban surroundings than to its southern ceremonial landscape. The address of the White House became 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Lithographs from as early as 1848 show this section of Pennsylvania Avenue as a broad expanse of street, and early on it was used for ceremonial purposes. In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln and General Winfield Scott reviewed troops in front of the White House. By the last half of the 19th century, when the custom of inaugural Parades became established, temporary reviewing stands were erected on the street.

In the 20th century, as automobile traffic replaced the crush of horse-drawn vehicles on Pennsylvania Avenue, the north side of the White House increasingly became a place for the public to assemble and to petition the president of the United States. Suffragettes demonstrated for the right to vote, and over the years others have gathered here both to celebrate and protest various causes and wars and to be close to the seat of power during times of national crisis. In addition, Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park are also landmack resources in the history of the historic preservation movement in the United States, as evidenced by the redesign of Lafayette Park in the 1960s.

Present Uses of Pennsylvonia Avenue at the White House

This portion of pennsylvania Avenue has diverse and sometimes simultaneos uses. Accommodating these uses often requires decisions affecting efficiency, security, history, preservation, and aesthetic value's. Some of the more important uses are listed below.
* A Link with the Presidency -- Because Pennsylvania Avenue runs right in front of the White Mouse, it is seen as a place for citizens to show an emotional connection with the presidency, to gather in times of crisis, and to petition the President to redress grievances, in accordance with the First Amendment. The fact that the White House -- America's house - is surrounded by a fence, not a wall, symbolizes the openness between the presiaent and the people.

* Focal Point - This section of Pennsylvania Avenue provides visual access to the front door of the president's home, a view that is known around the world. The address 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is perhaps the most recognized address in our nation, providing for all U.S. citizens a sense of being home and welcome..

* A Connection with the City - Pennsy!vania Avenue was designed to link the Capitol and the White House. The section between 15th and 17th Streets also links Lafayette Park and its historic neighborhood with the White House, the Treasury Building, and the Old Executive Office Building.

* Access - Pennsylvania Airenue provides access to and from the White House for the president and his family, official guests, and tourists. As such, acccss must be safe and secure for all, whether their are inside the White House, part of a diplomatic motorcade, viewing the White House from outside the fence, demonstrating in Lafayette Park, or Passing by. The area in front of the White House is open to pedestrians, bicyclers, and skaters. Local transit buses provide access to the east side of Lafayette Park.

* A Stage and Setting -In addition to its daily use, Pennsylvania Avenue is a setting for national ceremonies and events, including inaugural parades, national marches, official functions, and state funerals. The importance of this area is underscored by its use by the national and international media as a backdrop for reporting world events. It is also a setting for visitor activities and local urban activities.

Design Principles for Pennrylvania Avenue at the White House

Future designs for Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House will be consistent with design principles developed for President's Park in a project known as the Comprehensive Design Plan for the white House. The intent of these principles is to ensure that all designs used within the area are consistent. The principles may be summarized as follows:
* The design should be nonintrusive.

* Past building traditions ana practices should be respected.

* The design should be timeless.

* The quality of the pedestrian experience should remain a high priority in all designs.

* The design should accommodate service, security, and ceremonial functions in a manner that is consistent with the dignity and importance of the site.

There can be many different approaches to redesigning Pennsylvania Avenue to accommodate its various uses while still meeting the intent of these design principles.

How Will Your ldeals Be Used?

All the information from the open houses, the response sheets, and universities will be compiled and used as a starting point for a one-week design workshop to be held in December., A small group of prominent planning and design professionals from around the country will be invited to explore and develop various design ideas for Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House and the perimrter-of Lafayette rark. The product of the wotkshop will be a portfolio of ideas and concepts that will be submitted to the National Park Service and refined into conceptual design alternatives.

The National Park Service will then analyze the social and environmental impacts of all the alternatives so that people understand the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. These alternatives will be available for public comment, after which a preferred alternative will be selected and implemented.

Your ideas are important to us and to how Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House will look in the future.

Please share your thoughts with us through, words or sketches on the response sheet or come to one of the public open houses. Return your response sheet hy October 25, 1995.

Pennsylvania Ave. Closure || Peace Park