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.
©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
Hours of Operation: 24 hours a day, every day for the Avenue. The different sites have different hours.
Learn more about these other national historic sites:
To learn more about national national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:
- National Monuments: Learn more about America's national monuments.
- National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.
- National Historic Sites: Read about American national historic sites.
- Washington, D.C. City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Washington, D.C.
- District of Columbia State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Washington, D.C., as well as other recreational activities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.