It’s time for Pennsylvania Avenue to assume its role as a heart of the nation’s capital, and Marcel Acosta (LF ’01), executive director of the National Capital Planning Commission, is among those leading the charge. Read on or skip right to the details of a panel discussion about the new Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative on September 19.
When Pierre L’Enfant designed the layout for Washington, DC, in 1805, he established Pennsylvania Avenue as a symbolic link between the White House and the Capitol. Over the centuries it’s been severally a ceremonial promenade, a lively Main Street, but also a barrier between government buildings and the city’s downtown and a crumbling relic, abandoned by businesses that once located there.
The fortunes of the avenue have risen and fallen. It reached a low point during the high-crime 1960s. In 1974, the National Planning Development Corp. formalized a plan, endorsed by President Nixon and building on efforts of the Kennedy administration, to recreate the street as an tree-lined esplanade with residential and retail presence. Predictably, political and economic pressures ensured it stopped short of completion.
The new Trump International Hotel in the Old Post Office is among a host of projects that signal a new beginning. The challenge will be the coordination of the many organizations that have jurisdiction, but the launch this summer of the Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative is a promising start. It requires the collaboration of the NCPC, the General Services Administration, the National Park Service, other federal agencies and the District in a multiyear revitalization program for the 1.2 mile grand boulevard. The Washington Business Journal opines, “there may not be a more opportune time.”
Learn more at a panel discussion, “Residents to Presidents,” that will kick off the Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative on September 19 from 8:30-10:30 am at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue. RSVP is recommended.