Fifty years ago, amid American cities’ drive to remake themselves in service of cars, prominent parts of the National Mall were apparently turned into parking lots.
The image above shows the blocks currently occupied by the Air and Space Museum (left) and the National Museum of the American Indian (center) being used as surface parking. It looks like the photographer took the photo sometime in the early 1970s, facing east from roughly 6th Street and Independence Avenue Southwest — probably the roof of the Wilbur Wright Federal Building.
This second image, below, is from the same spot but facing north. It shows the National Gallery of Art, with 6th Street running from the gallery down towards the photographer’s vantage point. The two blocks of parking in the foreground are where the Air and Space Museum sits today.
I found these photos in DDOT’s fascinating historic image archive. Sadly they’re not precisely dated and come with no accompanying notes. I don’t know how long this part of the Mall was used as parking. If you have more info, let us know in the comments!