Who Designed Washington, D.C.?


Quick Answer

Pierre-Charles L'Enfant designed Washington, D.C. After L'Enfant clashed with some of the elite of the city in 1792, Andrew Ellicot, the surveyor of the city, tweaked L'Enfant's plan, publishing an official map based on L'Enfant's design that guided the future development of the district.

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Full Answer

L'Enfant wanted to blend European architectural ideas with the American ideals of democracy. The central piece of his plan was the National Mall, a public space maintained for the use of all citizens and visitors. Such a public space was unheard of in Europe, but it embodied the American pursuit of equality. Subsequent architects realized the Mall and many of L'Enfant's other ideas, such as the city's wide boulevard's and the placement of important buildings. However, some of L'Enfant's ideas, such as a waterfall coursing down Capitol Hill, exist only on paper.

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