The National Mall in Washington DC is an American icon, visited by millions of tourists, but also somewhat threadbare-looking; since 2001, increasingly choked with security barriers; and gradually becoming overbuilt with memorials for every group with clout in Congress. The National Coalition to Save Our Mall is fighting these disappointing trends.
Several pieces draw from existing consensus, like transforming South Capitol Street into an “urban boulevard”; others, like putting a canal through East Potomac Park, appear in recent development proposals.
But one idea caught my eye which I haven’t seen elsewhere as much. If you look at the western end of the drawing, parkland spans the space from the Lincoln Memorial to the Kennedy Center, and what a perfect spot for some of those memorials which shouldn’t clutter the main Mall space itself. Here’s what that space looks like today: a maze of car ramps to Virginia that reserve a huge amount of prime riverfront space for cars.
While I’m sure these ramps do carry substantial traffic, I’m not convinced routing the bridge traffic directly onto a normal street or two would be worse, or else that the area couldn’t be decked over for a big park. What about even putting tour bus parking under the park as well, in some of the space between the ramps, to cut down on surface lots? Whatever the specifics, this is one spot that could be much more than it is today.