No matter who you voted for in the November 2016 elections, you can have no doubt that the National Mall will be the focus of the American people’s attention this coming January 20, 2017. On that day, the Republican candidate Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. The National Mall is where you can watch the parade and swearing-in if you want to see them live.
The inauguration of the president of the United States is not the only reason why the National Mall is significant, of course. The Mall is the heart of Washington DC. More than just a place where you will find some of the most important museums and memorials in the US, the Mall is where history is made.
The National Mall is the most visited National Park in the US.
The National Mall attracts some 25 million visitors coming from all corners of the globe, not just the US. It’s not hard to see why. The Mall is bordered lengthwise by Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue. On the Mall’s west end is the Washington Monument; the US Capitol Building stands on the east end. Within the Mall, you’ll find several historically significant museums, monuments and memorials, including ten of the museums under the purview of the Smithsonian Institute.
Why does the National Mall exist in the first place? As delineated by the National Parks Service, under whose jurisdiction the Mall falls, the Mall’s main purpose is to create a dignified and symbolic setting for the buildings of the US federal government. The Mall is also designed to showcase the legacies of American history, as well as to provide a wide and open space for people to gather and have fun outdoors while in DC.
Additionally, the Mall is meant to be a venue for people to hold protest and demonstrations at when they need to. One of the most famous demonstrations held at the Mall is none other than the one in 1963 where the late Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered “I Have a Dream.”
Other events frequently held at the Mall are: the National Cherry Blossom Festival and Earth Day celebrations every April, and Washington DC’s Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day celebrations.
What major Washington DC attractions will you find at the National Mall?
As mentioned earlier, the National Mall is home to several historically important museums, monuments, memorials, and other attractions. Among these destinations are:
- The Smithsonian Freer Gallery and Sackler Gallery. The Freer and Sackler Galleries are where you’ll find the Smithsonian’s extensive collection of artworks and relics from Asia, particularly East, South, and Southeast Asia.
- The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM). NASM is famous as the home of the largest collection of planes and spaceships in the world. It is also a research center for spaceflight, aviation, geology, and planetary science.
- The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The Natural History Museum is where you will find 126 million plant and animal specimens as well as human artifacts that create an overall picture of history, life, and culture of the US.
- The US Botanic Garden (USBG). Supervised by the Architect of the Capitol, the USBG is an indoor garden that is home to some 4,000 plant specimens from all over the US. The USBG collection includes rose gardens, butterfly gardens, and a collection of rare and endangered plants.
- National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden. The National Gallery of Art has some of the finest art collections in the world. While it is home to artworks made by numerous American masters, the Gallery is famous for its collection of Italian Renaissance art.
- The Washington Monument. The Washington Monument is considered to be the Mall’s centerpiece. It honors George Washington, the first president of the US. From up the monument, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Mall and beyond.
Whether or not you’re viewing the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017 live, it’s important that you visit the National Mall at least once in your life if you’re American. Nowhere else will you have the opportunity to learn more comprehensively US history and its unique legacy.