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Harrisburg: The City Beautiful

Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C.'s City Beautiful Movement

The Mall, created for Washington, D.C.'s City Beautiful Movement.

Washington, D.C. was the United State's first attempt at a City Beautiful Movement. Through the McMillan Plan of 1901-02 and the L'Enfant Plan, the vision was to model Washington after the cities of Europe, to make the nation's capital the leader of the emerging professional class and a prominent figure in the middle of an era of expansion, and show beauty through the monuments of the city. The focus was on the Mall; therefore, Burnham had to use his connections with the Pennsylvania Railroad to persuade them to move their tracks away from the middle of the Mall. 

This focus on the Mall may have been the cause, or it could have only been a symptom, of why Washington's movement is not considered one of the City Beautiful Movement's greater successes. It did not fix the problem that it was originally aimed at, which was making the city a better place to live. It made sections of the city beautiful, but it did nothing to help the poor living in the slums. The movement was extremely separated from the residents of the city, and unlike later City Beautiful Movements, it did not result in any social or economic reforms (Kohler, Sue A., and Pamela Scott. Designing the Nation's Capital: The 1901 Plan for Washington. N.p.: n.p., 2006.).