Balancing Security and Beauty
Letters to the Editor

I take exception to Arthur Cotton Moore's May 20 letter about Pennsylvania Avenue ["Take Back America's Avenue!"]. The street as it stands looks nothing like what Mr. Moore has described.

In fact, finally, there is a place in the middle of downtown that is quiet. Lafayette Park is now a beautiful place to have lunch No noisy, smelly buses spewing their blade diesel; no horns, no tars, no cursing commuters, no aggressive drivers, no fingers and shouting,-just peace and quiet.

Opening up the street just for commuters, buses and taxis who find H and I streets inconvenient would be a complete shame.

To say that the section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House has "been converted into parking lots" is misleading. The small parking lots are at least 100 yards away from the White House.

The street is mostly empty, and the sidewalks are full of tourists and government workers. It is truly beautiful to see and hear the peacefulness that the closure has accomplished. Let's keep it!


Once again, The Post has repeated that canard about Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House being "sealed off" to traffic, which The Post deems "an affront to open democracy" [editorial, May 21]. The street is not closed to traffic—only to motor vehicles. Other forms of traffic, including bicyclists, rollerbladers, pedestrians, tourists and the usual assortment of people wishing to present grievances are all welcome. I rode my bicycle there just the bother day and found it a pleasant, quiet plaza where I coasted in lazy circles, some thing that could have cost me my life back when it was nothing more than an urban expressway. If The Post's real complaint is traffic jams on nearby streets, then you may have a point, but please stop trying to sell the notion that enjoyment of democratic processes can be had only from an automobile. It's the White House—not White Castle.

I don't recall The Post raising such a fuss over the "affront to democracy" that occurred when E Street below the White House was closed to westbound motor traffic, or over the closure that occurs each weekend on sections of Rock Creek Parkway.


I would like to add my voice to those opposing the continued closure of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The terrorists are winning. Look around Washington at the barricades that have been erected near the State Department, Pentagon, White House Old Executive Office Building, the Capitol, the House and Senate office buildings, etc. Look at our airports, office buildings, schools, post offices, even some retail establishments. All of the physical barriers in the world will not make a difference if a terrorist wants to become a martyr. We need to rethink our physical security arrangements and start to act like an open, reasonable society again.

The most effective security on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House would be D.C. police and uniformed Secret Service officers on foot, patrolling both sides of the street. The security officers could restrict the traffic to autos only and could prohibit any vehicle from stop. ping along that portion of the avenue. The patrolling officers would ask any stopped vehicle to move along or risk a fine. Officers on foot watching the people and the vehicles on the avenue would be in a position to act quickly to deter or apprehend any lawbreakers.

Lastly, one of the most senseless and unsightly uses of concrete barriers can be found around Hamilton Place along 15th Street near the Treasury Building. What could we possibly be protecting there? Those barriers are particularly ugly and unnecessary.