Don’t tear it down? Too late for many DC buildings.
The demolition of Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station in the early 1960s stands as one of the greatest architectural losses in the history of the United States. In fact, to this day historic photos of Penn Station’s grand hall are often used by preservation advocates in campaigns to help save historic buildings from being torn down. In Washington, DC, the Old Post Office Building, with high stone clock tower, is another example. In the 1970s, when the federal government sought to demolish the building, a group organized as “Don’t Tear It Down” fought for its preservation during a period when the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, created by Congress in 1972, sought to revitalize the downtrodden avenue that runs from the US Capitol to the White House right by the Old Post Office Building.
Today, the view in the photo above (by UPStateNYer, used here under CC BY-SA 3.0) from the Old Post Office Building’s clock tower would not be possible except for the preservation group’s success. It provides a most advantageous viewpoint of the monumental core that some prefer to the view from the Washington Monument (in part because the clock tower provides a beautiful view Washington Monument itself). Numerous other buildings were not as lucky.
By Michelle Goldchain
Curbed Washington DC
July 28, 2017