The zoo's Connecticut Avenue entrance in 1926. Image by Library of Congress.

We first published this post on December 14, 2009. Since the zoo's entrance may soon change once again, we're re-running and updating the post now.

Between 1926 and today, the entrance to the National Zoo has changed considerably. This 1926 photo shows a covered pavilion for visitors, and a street for car drivers to drive straight into the interior of the zoo.

Compare that to the current entrance:

The Connecticut Avenue entrance in 2009. Image by the author.

When the 1963 plan to revamp the National Zoo was unveiled, it aroused controversy. According to the Washington Post (below), “The plan was viewed by members of the Fine Arts Commission Wednesday with shocked surprise, causing Smithsonian officials to indicate they will ask their architects to change the plan.”

From the Washington Post, September 20, 1963.

Nonetheless, the major change of eliminating the roadways from the main entrance and moving the vehicle entrance to the northwest was retained and implemented, resulting in the plan that is familiar to visitors today.

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest, primarily within the District. He’s worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He’s been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner serving the northern Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods since 2011 (ANC 1A), and served as the Commission’s Chair since 2013. He has a MS in Design from Arizona State University with strong interests in preservation, planning, and zoning. Kent is also the force behind the blog Park View, DC.