Every step of the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site, which links the White House to the Capitol, is steeped in history. For Pierre L'Enfant, who designed Washington, D.C., in 1791, the broad boulevard was a symbol for the separate yet interrelated roles of the nation's executive and legislative branches.

Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site
©National Park Service
Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site has modern attractions for tourists
as well as key icons of our national history.

Throughout the years, buildings sprang up between the two seats of democracy, and the area generally deteriorated. In 1965, the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site was formed to revitalize this stretch of avenue, known as "America's Main Street." It is now a place for people to stroll, shop, dine, and follow history.

The Commerce Building on 14th Street has information for tourists. Also at this site is the National Aquarium, featuring a dazzling display of freshwater and saltwater fish.

Across Pershing Park, which honors General John J. Pershing, commander of U.S. forces in World War I, is the historic Willard Hotel, restored to its original elegance. Down the avenue, at 12th Street, is the Old Post Office. This large, turn-of-the-century building now contains some 80 shops and vendors, along with a food gallery, performing arts stage, miniature golf course, and observation tower.

Lining the avenue from the Old Post Office to the Capitol are the buildings that keep our government functioning, including the I.R.S., the F.B.I., and the National Archives.

Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site Information
Address: National Mall & Memorial Parks, 900 Ohio Dr., SW , Washington, DC
Telephone: 202/426-6841
Hours of Operation: 24 hours a day, every day for the Avenue. The different sites have different hours.
Admission: Free

Learn more about these other national historic sites:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site Clara Barton National Historic Site
Fort Larned National Historic Site
Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Adams National Historic Site
Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site Fort Raleigh National Historic Site Hampton National Historic Site Lincoln Home National Historic Site Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site Edison National Historic Site Fort Scott National Historic Site Harry S. Truman National Historic Site Longfellow National Historic Site Sagamore Hill National Historic Site Thomas Stone National Historic Site
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site Eisenhower National Historic Site Fort Smith National Historic Site Herbert Hoover National Historic Site Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site Thomas Stone National Historic Site
Boston African -American National Historic Site Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site Manzanar National Historic Site

Saint-
Gaudens National Historic Site

Touro Synagogue National Historic Site
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site Martin Van Buren National Historic Site Salem Maritime National Historic Site Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site Mary McLeod Bethune House National Historic Site Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site Weir Farm National Historic Site
Charles Pinckney National Historic Site Fort Bowie National Historic Site Friendship Hill National Historic Site James A. Garfield National Historic Site Mc Loughlin House National Historic Site Sewall -Belmont House National Historic Site Whitman Mission National Historic Site
Chicago Portage National Historic Site
Fort Davis National Historic Site Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site Jimmy Carter National Historic Site Ninety Six National Historic Site Springfield Armory National Historic Site William Howard Taft National Historic Site
Christian
-sted National Historic Site
Fort Laramie National Historic Site Golden Spike National Historic Site John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site Steamtown National Historic Site

To learn more about national national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.