top of page

The National Mall: “where to go when you have to go”

President Obama's first inaugural address, Washington DC

The National Mall in Washington, DC, is one of the most recognizable landscapes in the United States and, indeed, the world. Although a grand avenue initially was to be constructed where the mall is today, according to the plan by L’Enfant, during the mid-19th century the area was landscaped in various forms of the picturesque tradition, landscapes that eventually gave way to the construction of rail lines for the growing city. In 1901, the McMillan Commission determined a plan for the mall drawing from the City Beautiful movement, and the broad lengthy grassy mall lined by memorials and museums was largely the result of this plan.

Administered by the National Park Service, the National Mall is the site of museums, memorials, rallies and protests, the annual 4th of July fireworks display, and the quadrennial presidential inaugural ceremony, among many other activities. Due in large part to the popularity of the Smithsonian and other museums that line the eastern portion of the mall between the Washington Monument and the US Capitol, and the war memorials that line the western portion between the World War II and Lincoln Memorials, the National Mall receives millions of visitors each year. (The photo of President Obama’s first presidential inauguration ceremony January 20, 2009 is by Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Meneguin and is in the public domain).

While there are numerous guides available in print and online for visiting the various sites the National Mall has to offer, this writer provides a guide of a different sort.


I visited all 59 bathrooms on the Mall. Here’s where to go when you have to go.

By Sadie Dingfelder

July 27, 2017

The Washington Post

bottom of page