Pennsylvania Avenue Redevelopment: Overview

Introduction Credits:
Christopher Brantley

Introduction Date:

Introduction Text:

According to legend, President John F. Kennedy rode down Pennsylvania Avenue during his inaugural parade on January 20, 1961, and remarked how sad it was that this most symbolic of streets should appear in such poor condition. Whether this tale is true is irrelevant because President Kennedy did, in fact, begin the process that would ultimately lead to the redevelopment and revitalization of “America’s Main Street.”

Pennsylvania Avenue was conceived from the very beginning, by designer Pierre L’Enfant, as a grand, ceremonial thoroughfare connecting the Executive Mansion and the National Capitol. As noted above, however, by the mid-twentieth century it was severely downtrodden.

John Kennedy would not live to see his hopes for Pennsylvania Avenue realized, but his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson continued the process of planning for the redesign of the Avenue. It was not until the administration of Richard Nixon that a permanent government body, the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) was created by Congress.

PADC laid out their plans for the Avenue in their 1974 annual report. During the subsequent years, a tremendous amount of controversy arose over plans originating from this report. A substantial portion of that controversy dealt with the question of historic preservation. On this most historic of streets, in this most historic of cities, what must be saved, and what can safely and prudently be demolished to make room for new development? The following documents provide just a small look at some of the arguments over redeveloping Pennsylvania Avenue.

Document List

Booklet about Don't Tear It Down and the Old Post Office (00/00/0000)
This booklet provides an overview of the Old Post Office Tower, and the history of Don't Tear It Down related to the Old Post Office.
Statement of Loius Justement for the Committee of 100 (03/05/1965)
Statement by Louis Justement voicing reservations about the proposed plans to redevelop Pennsylvania Avenue.
David S. Clark letter to William Walton (02/07/1970)
A letter by David S. Clark to William Walton of the Commission of Fine Arts opposing a proposal to destroy the Old Post Office Tower.
Senate Testimony of John Wiebenson April 21, 1971 (04/21/1971)
Senate testimony of John Wiebenson opposing destruction of Old Post Office
Replanning for Pennsylvania Avenue (12/00/1971)
Document prepared by John Wiebenson proposing development and preservation ideas for Pennsylvania Avenue.
Map of Landmarks from 1974 PADC Plan (03/18/1974)
Map of Landmarks within the PADC development area produced in PADC's 1974 Annual Plan. The map shows the various landmarks and their respective degrees of significance.
Suggested Law Changes Regarding Preservation of Historic Buildings in Pennsylvania Avenue Historic Site (00/00/1980)
This is a reaction to an adverse court decision, and a recommendation to Congress on how to rectify the wrong decision.
Don't Tear It Down flier (05/00/1980)
Don't Tear It Down activity leaflet.
Statement of Max Berry, chairman PADC, before House subcommittee on Government Operations and Metropolitan Affairs (00/00/1981)
PADC's Chairman, Max Berry, outlining the history and progress of his organization to a Congressional subcommittee.
Statement of Karen Gordon of Don't Tear It Down before House subcommittee on Governmental Operations and Metropolitan Affairs (10/14/1981)
Don't Tear It Down testimony before Congressional Committee regarding dealings with PADC.
Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation Historic Preservation Plan (00/00/1982)
1982 update of preservation plans for uncommited development areas on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Testimony of the Metropolitan Washington Planning and Housing Assoc. to House subcommittee on Public Lands and National Parks (03/02/1982)
Testimony by John Wiebenson before House subcommittee evaluating progress of PADC and their working relationship with the Metropolitan Washington Planning and Housing Association.
Report of Joint Committee on Landmarks on Federal Triangle Master Plan (04/21/1982)
Joint Committee on Landmarks report on GSA's Federal Triangle Master Plan.
John Wiebenson Testimony to House of Representatives Subcommittee (04/22/1982)
Testimony before House subcommittee concerning the issues of housing and preservation in the Eastern sector of the PADC operational area.
Statement of Karen Gordon on Behalf of Don't Tear It Down (04/23/1982)
Statement from Don't Tear It Down regarding PADC's Report on the Eastern Sector.
NCPC Executive Summary of Options for Federal Triangle Grand Plaza (04/30/1982)
Executive Summary for NCPC regarding the Grand Plaza at Federal Triangle.
Draft Report to the GSA from NCPC regarding Federal Triangle (05/00/1982)
NCPC evaluation of Federal Triangle Master Plan for GSA.
History of the Warner Theater (07/31/1985)
A history of the Warner Theater presented to the Preservation Review Board of Washington, D.C., to garner support for landmark status.