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Pierre Charles L'Enfant

Pierre Charles L'Enfant
Born (1754-08-02)August 2, 1754
Paris, Île-de-France, France
Died June 14, 1825(1825-06-14) (aged 70)
Maryland, U.S.
Nationality French (French-American)
Other names Peter Charles L'Enfant
Ethnicity French American
Education Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture
Occupation Architect, civil engineer, soldier[1]
Organization United States Army[1]
Known for L'Enfant Plan
Title Major[1]

Pierre "Peter" Charles L'Enfant (French: ; August 2, 1754 – June 14, 1825) was a French-born American architect and civil engineer best known for designing the layout of the streets of Washington, D.C., the L'Enfant Plan.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Military service 2.1
    • Architect and planner 2.2
      • Post–Revolutionary War 2.2.1
      • Plan for Federal City 2.2.2
      • Later works 2.2.3
  • Death 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Honors 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

L'Enfant was born in Paris, France on August 2, 1754, the third child and second son of Marie Charlotte L'Enfant (aged 25 and the daughter of a minor marine official at court) and Pierre L'Enfant (1704–1787), a painter with a good reputation in the service of King Louis XV. In 1758, his brother Pierre Joseph died at the age of six, and Pierre Charles became the eldest son. He studied art at the Royal Academy in the Louvre, as well as with his father at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. He left school in France to enlist in the American Revolutionary War on the side of the rebels.


Military service

L'Enfant was recruited by Marquis de Lafayette commissioned L'Enfant to paint a portrait of Washington. L'Enfant was promoted by brevet to Major of Engineers on May 2, 1783, in recognition of his service to American liberty.[7]

After the war, L'Enfant designed the badge of the Continental Army, shaped as an eagle, at the request of Washington. He was sent to France to have insignias made for members of the Society, a group of veterans of the war.[8]

Architect and planner

Post–Revolutionary War

Following the American Revolutionary War, L'Enfant established a successful and highly profitable civil engineering firm in New York City. He achieved some fame as an architect by redesigning the City Hall in New York for the First Congress in Federal Hall.[9] He also designed coins, medals, furniture and houses of the wealthy, and he was a friend of Alexander Hamilton.

While L'Enfant was in New York City, he was initiated into Freemasonry. His initiation took place on April 17, 1789, at Holland Lodge No. 8, F & A M, which the Grand Lodge of New York F & A M had chartered in 1787. L'Enfant took only the first of three degrees offered by the Lodge and did not progress further in Freemasonry.[10][11]

Plan for Federal City

The new First Congress passed the "Residence Act", setting the site of the new federal district and national capital to be on the shores of the Potomac River.[12] The Residence Act was the result of an important early political compromise between northern and southern congressional delegations, brokered by new cabinet members, Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton of New York and political opponent, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia. It specified the new capital would be situated on the northern and southern banks of the Potomac River, at some location, to be determined by the president, between the Eastern Branch (now referred to as the Anacostia River) near Washington's estate of Mount Vernon and the confluence with the Conococheague Creek, further upstream near Hagerstown, Maryland. The Residence Act also gave authority to President Washington to appoint three commissioners to oversee the survey of the ten mile square federal district and "according to such Plans, as the President shall approve," provide public buildings to accommodate the Federal government in 1800. [13][14]

President Washington appointed L'Enfant in 1791 to plan the new "Federal City" (later named Montgomery County of the State of Maryland) and Alexandria (in Fairfax County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia).[15] Thomas Jefferson, who worked alongside President Washington in overseeing the plans for the capital, sent L'Enfant a letter outlining his task, which was to provide a drawing of suitable sites for the federal city and the public buildings. Though Jefferson had modest ideas for the Capital, L'Enfant saw the task as far more grandiose, believing he was not only locating the capital, but also devising the city plan and designing the buildings.[16]

L'Enfant arrived in

Honorary titles
Preceded by
William McKinley
Persons who have lain in state or honor
in the United States Capitol rotunda

April 28, 1909
Succeeded by
George Dewey
  • Mann, Nicholas, The Sacred Geometry of Washington, D.C.: The Integrity and Power of the Original Design, Green Magic 2006. ISBN 0-9547230-7-4, ISBN 978-0-9547230-7-1
  • Ovason, David, The Secret Architectpre of Our Nation's Capital: the Masons and the building of Washington, D.C., New York City: Perennial, 2002. ISBN 0-06-019537-1 ISBN 978-0060195373

External links

  • Caemmerer, H. Paul (1970). The Life of Pierre Charles L'Enfant. Da Capo Press.  
  • Kite, Elizabeth Sarah (1929). L'Enfant and Washington, 1791–1792. Johns Hopkins University Press.  
  • Morgan, James Dudley, M.D. (1899). "Maj. Pierre Charles L'Enfant, The Unhonored and Unrewarded Engineer". Records of the Columbia Historical Society (Washington, D.C.:  
  • Stewart, John (1899). "Early Maps and Surveyors of the City of Washington, D.C.". Records of the Columbia Historical Society (Washington, D.C.:  
  • Worthington, Glen (2005-05-01). "The Vision of Pierre L’Enfant: A City to Inspire, A Plan to Preserve". Georgetown Law Historic Preservation Papers Series. Paper 9. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  • Sterling, Christopher H. (2003). Revisiting an Old Controversy. Review of Bowling, Kenneth R. (2002), Peter Charles L'Enfant: vision, honor, and male friendship in the early American Republic. H-DC, H-Net Reviews. In H-Net Reviews of the Humanities and Social Sciences in website of H-Net Humanities and Social Sciences Online by The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, Michigan State University. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
  • Berg, Scott W. (2007). Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C. Pantheon Books.  
  • Bowling, Kenneth R. (2002). Peter Charles L'Enfant: vision, honor, and male friendship in the early American Republic. Washington, D.C.: George Washington University.  


  1. ^ a b c Graham, Jed (July 21, 2006). "Pierre Charles L'Enfant, Major, United States Army". Retrieved June 2, 2013. Major, United States Army 
  2. ^ Morgan, p. 118
  3. ^ L'Enfant identified himself as "Peter Charles L'Enfant" during most of his life while residing in the United States. (See: Bowling, 2002, and Sterling, 2003) He wrote this name on the last line of text in an oval in the upper left corner of his "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of t(he) United States ...." (Washington, D.C.) and on other legal documents. During the early 1900s, a French ambassador to the U.S., Jean Jules Jusserand, popularized the use of L'Enfant's birth name, "Pierre Charles L'Enfant". (See: Bowling (2002).) The National Park Service has identified L'Enfant as "Major Peter Charles L'Enfant" and as "Major Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant" in its histories of the Washington Monument on its website. The United States Code states in 40 U.S.C. § 3309: "(a) In General.—The purposes of this chapter shall be carried out in the District of Columbia as nearly as may be practicable in harmony with the plan of Peter Charles L'Enfant."
  4. ^ a b Sterling
  5. ^ "History of the Mall: The 1791 L'Enfant Plan and the Mall". A Monument To Democracy. National Coalition to Save Our Mall. Archived from the original on 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2015-01-04. We now know that L’Enfant called himself "Peter" and not Pierre. 
  6. ^ a b Claims of L'Enfant, Peter Charles: 1800–1810. Digested Summary and Alphabetical List of Private Claims which Have Been Presented to the House of Representatives from the First to the Thirty-first Congress: Exhibiting the Action of Congress on Each Claim, with References to the Journals, Reports, Bills, &c., Elucidating Its Progress 2 (Washington, D.C.:   At Google Books
  7. ^ Morgan, p. 119
  8. ^ Caemmerer (1950), p. 85
  9. ^  "Pierre-Charles L'Enfant".  
  10. ^ Holland Lodge No. 8 F&AM membership records
  11. ^ de Ravel d’Esclapon, Pierre F. (March–April 2011). "The Masonic Career of Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant". The Scottish Rite Journal (Washington, D.C.: Supreme Council, 33°,  
  12. ^ Reps, John William (1965). "9. Planning the National Capital". [ The Making of Urban America].  
  13. ^ "An ACT for establishing the Temporary and Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  14. ^ Ellis, Joseph J. (2002). "The Dinner". [ Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation]. Vintage. pp. 50–52.  
  15. ^ a b Leach, Sara Amy; Barthold, Elizabeth (1994-07-20). "L'Enfant Plan of the City of Washington, District of Columbia" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.  
  16. ^ a b Seale, William (1986). The President's House, Volume 1. White House Historical Association. pp. 1–4. 
  17. ^ Stewart, p. 50
  18. ^ Seale, William (1986). The President's House, Volume 1. White House Historical Association. p. 9. 
  19. ^ L'Enfant, P.C. (June 22, 1791). "To The President of the United States". Records of the Columbia Historical Society (Washington, D.C.:  
  20. ^ a b Stewart, p. 52
  21. ^ a b Passanneau, Joseph R. (2004). Washington Through Two Centuries: A History in Maps and Images. New York: The Monacelli Press, Inc. pp. 14–16, 24–27.  
  22. ^ a b c L'Enfant, P.C. (August 19, 1791). "To The President of the United States". Records of the Columbia Historical Society (Washington, D.C.:  
  23. ^ a b "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government ....Pierre Charles L'Enfant's 1791 " in official website of the Library of Congress Retrieved 2008-08-13. Note: The plan that this web page describes identifies the plan's author as "Peter Charles L'Enfant". The web page nevertheless identifies the author as "Pierre-Charles L'Enfant."
  24. ^ "The L'Enfant Plan". A Monument To Democracy: History of the Mall: The 1791 L'Enfant Plan and the Mall. National Coalition to Save Our Mall. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  25. ^ Dotted line map of Washington, D.C., 1791, before Aug. 19th.L'Enfant's in official website of the Library of Congress. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  26. ^ "A Washington DC Map Chronology". Retrieved 2009-09-30. 
  27. ^ Faethz, E.F.M.; Pratt, F.W. (1874). "Sketch of Washington in embryo, viz: Previous to its survey by Major L'Enfant: Compiled from the rare historical researches of Dr. Joseph M. Toner … combined with the skill of S.R. Seibert C.E.". Map in the collection of the  
  28. ^ Vlach, John Michael (Spring 2004). "The Mysterious Mr. Jenkins of Jenkins Hill". United States Capitol Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  29. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1937). Washington, City and Capital: Federal Writers' Project. Works Progress Administration / United States  
  30. ^ L'Enfant, Peter Charles (1791). "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of t(he) United States : projected agreeable to the direction of the President of the United States, in pursuance of an act of Congress passed the sixteenth day of July, MDCCXC, "establishing the permanent seat on the bank of the Potowmac": (Washington, D.C.)". American Memory.  
  31. ^ a b Moore, Charles (ed) (1902), "Fig. No. 61 – L'Enfant Map of Washington (1791)", The Improvement Of The Park System Of The District of Columbia: Report by the United States Congress: Senate Committee on the District of Columbia and District of Columbia Park Commission, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, p. 12, Fifty-Seventh Congress, First Session, Senate Report No. 166 
  32. ^ a b c d High resolution image of central portion of "The L'Enfant Plan for Washington" in Library of Congress, with transcribed excerpts of key to map and enlarged image in official website of the U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
  33. ^ Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C. contains an inlay of the central portion of L'Enfant's plan, an inlay of an oval that gives the title of the plan and the name of its author (identified as "Peter Charles L'Enfant") and inlays of the plan's legends. The coordinates of the inlay of the plan and its legends are: . The coordinates of the name "Peter Charles L'Enfant" are:
  34. ^ Morgan, p. 120
  35. ^ a b c Tindall, William (1914). "IV. The First Board of Commissioners". Standard History of the City of Washington From a Study of the Original Sources. Knoxville, Tennessee: H. W. Crew and Company. pp. 148–149. 
  36. ^ a b c Stewart, John (1898). "Early Maps and Surveyors of the City of Washington, D.C". Records of the Columbia Historical Society 2: 55–56. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  37. ^ a b Ellicott, Andrew (February 23, 1792). "To Thomas Johnson, Daniel Carroll and David Stuart, Esqs." In Arnebeck, Bob. "Ellicott's letter to the commissioners on engraving the plan of the city, in which no reference is made to Banneker". The General and the Plan. Bob Arnebeck's Web Pages. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  38. ^ Kite, from L'Enfant and Washington" in website of Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons (Freemasons). Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  39. ^ Bowling, Kenneth R. (1988). Creating the Federal city, 1774–1800: Potomac Fever. Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Architects Press. 
  40. ^ Bryan, W.B. (1899). "Something About L'Enfant And His Personal Affairs". Records of the Columbia Historical Society 2: p. 113. 
  41. ^ a b The L'Enfant and McMillan Plans in "Washington, D.C., A National Register of Historic Places Travel Inventory" in official website of the U.S. National Park Service Accessed August 14, 2008.
  42. ^ Washington Map Society: Plan of the City of Washington. The U.S. National Archives holds a copy of "Ellicott's engraved Plan superimposed on the Plan of L'Enfant showing the changes made in the engraved Plan under the direction of President Washington". See "Scope & Contents" page of "Archival Description" for National Archives holding of "Miscellaneous Oversize Prints, Drawings and Posters of Projects Associated with the Commission of Fine Arts, compiled 1893–1950", ARC Identifier 518229/Local Identifier 66-M; Series from Record Group 66: Records of the Commission of Fine Arts, 1893–1981. Record of holding obtained through search in Archival Descriptions Search of ARC — Archival Research Catalog using search term L'Enfant Plan Ellicott, 2008-08-22.
  43. ^ (1) Jusserand, p. 184.
    (2) Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, Paterson Friends of the Great Falls. Accessed August 15, 2011.
    (3) "Introduction: Project Copy of the Calendar of the S.U.M. Collection of Manuscripts" (PDF). New Jersey Historical Records Survey. Paterson Friends of the Great Falls. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  44. ^ Jusserand, pp. 185–186.
  45. ^ History of Fort Washington Park, Maryland in official website of U.S. National Park Service Retrieved 2008-12-03.
  46. ^ History of the Maumee River Basin from the Earliest Account to Its Organization into Counties; Charles Elihu Slocum, 1905
  47. ^ Grand Avenues by Scott W. Berg
  48. ^ Jusserand, p. 190.
  49. ^ Pierre Charles L'Enfant at Arlington National Cemetery
  50. ^ Maj. L'Enfant's Forgotten Grave," by T. Loftin Snell, The Washington Post, Jul 30, 1950, pg. B3.
  51. ^ Coordinates of grave site of Peter Charles L'Enfant in Arlington National Cemetery:
  52. ^ Arlington National Cemetery: Historical Information: Pierre Charles L'Enfant
  53. ^ Miller, Richard E. (April 15, 2009). "Freedom Plaza Marker". Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  54. ^ Busch, Richard T.; Smith, Kathryn Schneider, "W.7: Freedom Plaza: 13th and E Sts NW", Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown Heritage Trail (PDF), Washington, DC: Cultural Tourism DC, retrieved 2010-10-22 
  55. ^ " — Nation's Capital celebrated on new commemorative postage stamp" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  56. ^ Ackland, Matt (2011-12-27). "DC Seeking To Have Statues Displayed Inside US Capitol". Washington, D.C.: Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  57. ^ "L'Enfant Lecture on City Planning and Design". Adult Programs.  
  58. ^ National Planning Awards 2014 at American Planning Association site


  • In 1942, an American cargo-carrying "Liberty" ship in World War II, named the S.S. "Pierre L'Enfant" was launched, part of a series of almost 2,000 ships mass-produced in an "assembly-line" fashion from eleven coastal shipyards. In 1970, she was shipwrecked and abandoned.
  • L'Enfant Plaza, a complex of office buildings (with the 1972 headquarters of the United States Postal Service), with an adjacent L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, an office building and an underground parking garage and a long series of underground corridors with a shopping center centered around an esplanade ('L'Enfant Promenade") in southwest Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 1968. Meeting rooms in the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel bear the names of French artists, military leaders, and explorers. The central portion of the plaza contains an engraved map of the city by Pierre L'Enfant from 1791. Within the city map is a smaller map that shows the plaza's location.
  • Beneath the L'Enfant Plaza is one of the central rapid transit busy Metro subway stops in Washington, D.C., the L'Enfant Plaza station.
  • In 1980, Western Plaza (subsequently renamed to "Freedom Plaza") off Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in northwest downtown Washington, D.C., was designed. An also inlay in the Plaza depicting parts of L'Enfant's architectural "Plan for the Federal City of Washington" of 1791.[53][54]
  • In 2003, L'Enfant's 1791 Plan for Washington was commemorated on a USPS commemorative postage stamp.[55] The diamond shape of the stamp reflects the original 100 square miles (259 km2) tract of land selected for the District. Shown is a view along the National Mall, including the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. Also portrayed are cherry blossoms around the "Tidal Basin" and row houses from the Shaw neighborhood.
  • The Government of the District of Columbia has commissioned a statue of L'Enfant that it hopes will one day reside in the U.S. Capitol as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection centered in the old chamber of the United States House of Representatives. As Federal Law currently only allows U.S. states (and not federal territories, commonwealths, districts or other possessions) to contribute statues to the Collection, the District of Columbia's Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Eleanor Holmes Norton, is attempting to have the Congress change the law permit the installation of the statue to represent the District in the Statuary Hall. The statue is presently displayed in the historic John A. Wilson District Building for the municipal government offices on Pennsylvania Avenue.[56]
  • Since 2005, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. has held an annual "L'Enfant Lecture on City Planning and Design" to draw attention to critical issues in city and regional planning in the United States.[57]
  • The American Planning Association (APA) has created an award named in L'Enfant's honor which recognizes excellence in international planning.[58]


At the instigation of a lying in state at the Capitol rotunda, L'Enfant was re-interred in a symbolic and beautifully scenic place of honor in the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, in a slab tomb on a hill beneath the front steps of "Arlington House" (formerly the "Lee-Custis Mansion", home of former U.S. and Confederate General, Robert E. Lee), overlooking the views of the City by the Potomac that he had partially designed.[49] In the Fall 1963, visiting for a ceremony here, several weeks before he was assassinated, that 35th President John F. Kennedy, (1917–1963), remarked on the view and the appropriateness of place "that he could stay there forever" moved his wife Jacqueline Kennedy to place his burial site just a few yards below on the hillside.[50][51] In 1911, L'Enfant was honored with a monument placed on top of his grave. Engraved on the monument is a portion of L'Enfant's own plan in a diagram map, which Andrew Ellicott's revision and the McMillan Commission's plan had superseded.[52]

In 1901 and 1902, the famous pivotal McMillan Commission under the leadership of Senator James McMillan, (1838–1902), of Michigan, used L'Enfant's plan as the cornerstone of a report that recommended a partial redesign of the capital city.[41] Among other things, the Commission's report laid out a plan for a sweeping mall in the area of L'Enfant's widest "grand avenue", which had not yet been constructed. In the decades since, many of L'Enfant and the McMillan visionary plans have been far more instrumental in considering the lay-out and architectural plans of America's capital city.

Grave of Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant, at Arlington National Cemetery below Arlington House, since 1909, overlooking the Capital City he partially designed
The National Mall was the centerpiece of the 1901 McMillan Plan. A central open vista traversed the length of the Mall.


[48] dollars.[47] L'Enfant died in poverty, June 14, 1825. He was originally buried at the Green Hill farm in


Soon after leaving the national capital area, L'Enfant prepared the initial plans for the city of Paterson, in northeast New Jersey along the Passaic River, but was discharged from this project after a year had passed.[43] However, in 1846 the city re-instated the original scheme proposed by L'Enfant after the city's race way system encountered problems. During the same period (1792–1793) he designed Robert Morris' mansion in Philadelphia, which was never finished because of his delays and Morris' bankruptcy.[44] In 1812, he was offered a position as a Professor of Engineering at United States Military Academy, at West Point, New York, but he declined that post. He did however later serve as a Professor of Engineering at West Point from 1813 to 1817. In 1814, L'Enfant worked briefly on the construction of Fort Washington on the Potomac River southeast of Washington, D.C., but others soon replaced him.[45] Contrary to numerous Internet postings, L'Enfant did NOT survey and plat Perrysburg, Ohio on April 26, 1816; this survey was performed by surveyors Joseph Wampler and William Brookfield under the auspices of Josiah Meigs, Surveyor General of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.[46] Washington is the only city that he designed; a protege designed Indianapolis.

"Morris' Folly". Engraving from 1800 by William Russell Birch.

Later works

L'Enfant was initially not paid for his work on his plan for the "Federal City". He fell into disgrace, spending much of the rest of his life trying to persuade Congress to pay him the tens of thousands of dollars that he claimed he was owed.[6] After a number of years, Congress finally paid him a small sum, nearly all of which went to his creditors.[4]

During a contentious period in February 1792, Andrew Ellicott, who had been conducting the original boundary survey of the future District of Columbia (see: Boundary Stones (District of Columbia)) and the survey of the "Federal City" under the direction of the Commissioners, informed the Commissioners that L'Enfant had not been able to have the city plan engraved and had refused to provide him with the original plan (of which L'Enfant had prepared several versions).[35][36][37] Ellicott, with the aid of his brother, Benjamin Ellicott, then revised the plan, despite L'Enfant's protests.[35][36][37][38] Shortly thereafter, having along with Secretary Jefferson grown increasingly frustrated by L'Enfant's unresponsiveness and headstrong ways, President Washington dismissed the architect. After L'Enfant departed, Andrew Ellicott continued the city survey in accordance with the revised plan, several versions of which were engraved, published and distributed. As a result, Ellicott's revisions subsequently became the basis for the Capital City's development.[35][36][39][40][41][42]

L'Enfant secured the lease of quarries at Wigginton Island and further southeast along Aquia Creek off the lower Potomac River southern bank in Virginia to supply well-regarded "Aquia Creek sandstone" for the foundation and later for the wall slabs and blocks of the "Congress House" in November 1791.[34] However, his temperament and his insistence that his city design be realized as a whole, brought him into conflict with the Commissioners, who wanted to direct the limited funds available into construction of the Federal buildings. In this, they had the support of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.

L'Enfant's plan additionally laid out a system of canals (later designated as the Washington City Canal) that would pass the "Congress House" and the "President's House". One branch of the canal would empty into the Potomac River south of the "President's House" at the mouth of old Tiber Creek, which would be channelized and straightened.[32]

Andrew Ellicott's 1792 revision of L'Enfant's plan of 1791–1792 for the "Federal City" later Washington City, District of Columbia

L'Enfant laid out a 400 feet (122 m)-wide garden-lined "grand avenue", which he expected to travel for about 1 mile (1.6 km) along an east-west axis in the center of an area that would later become the National Mall.[32] He also laid out a narrower avenue (Pennsylvania Avenue) which would connect the "Congress House" with the "President's House".[22][32] In time, Pennsylvania Avenue developed into the capital city's present "grand avenue".

The plan specified that most streets would be laid out in a grid. To form the grid, some streets (later named for letters of the alphabet) would travel in an east-west direction, while others (named for numbers) would travel in a north-south direction. Diagonal broader avenues, later named after the states of the Union, crossed the north/south-east/west grid.[31][32][33] The diagonal avenues intersected with the north-south and east-west streets at circles and rectangular plazas that would later honor notable Americans and provide open space.

L'Enfant's "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of the United States..." encompassed an area bounded by the Potomac River, the Eastern Branch, the base of the escarpment of the Atlantic Seaboard Fall Line, and Rock Creek.[21][27] His plan specified locations for the "Congress House" (the United States Capitol), which would be built on "Jenkins Hill" (later to be known as "Capitol Hill"), which he described as a "pedestal awaiting a monument". The "President's House" at a northwest diagonal from the halls of Congress along an unusually broad Pennsylvania Avenue (later known after its 1815–1817 rebuilding and white-washing the stone walls, as the famous "White House" or "Executive Mansion"), which would be situated on a ridge parallel to the Potomac River, situated north of a riverfront marsh and canal (later known as "Tiber Canal" or the "Washington City Canal" during the 1800s).[15][28] L'Enfant envisioned the "President's House" to have public gardens and monumental architecture. Reflecting his grandiose visions, he specified that the "President's House" (occasionally referred to as the "President's Palace") would be five times the size of the building that was actually constructed, even then becoming the largest residence then constructed in America.[16] Emphasizing the importance of the new Nation's Legislature, the "Congress House" would be located on a longitude designated as 0:0.[22][29][30][31]

President Washington retained one copy of L'Enfant's plans, showed it to the Congress, and later gave it to the three Commissioners.[23][24] The U.S. Library of Congress now holds both the plan that Washington apparently gave to the Commissioners and an undated anonymous survey map that the Library considers L'Enfant to have drawn before August 19, 1791.[23][25] The survey map may be one that L'Enfant appended to his August 19 letter to the President.[26]

[22][20] On August 19, he appended a new map to a letter that he sent to the President.[21][20][19] On June 22, L'Enfant presented his first plan for the federal city to the President.[18] Washington arrived later on March 28, to meet with L'Enfant and the Commissioners for several days.[17]

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