Walking The National Mall Part I

Published: May 5th 2006
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The National Mall Guide MapThe National Mall Guide MapThe National Mall Guide Map

The National Mall: Hard to get lost with informative maps showing the way
The National Mall in Washington DC divides into two parts. The East Mall runs a mile down a tree-lined esplanade bordered by flowery gardens from Capitol Hill to 15th Street. The East Mall is where the museums are, plus other more subtle pleasures of this large open space in the middle the nation’s capital. The West Mall starts where the East Mall stops at 15th Street and flows down to the Potomac River. The green-covered West Mall holds the best known of our national memorials.

The walk I describe in words and photos in this Part I of Walking The National Mall is the lower western third of the East Mall from 7th Street to 14th Street.

The walk starts in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden at 7th Street and Constitution, continues west down Madison Drive on the National Mall to 14th Street. The hike makes several zigzags along the way, not just straight ahead. At 14th Street it turns around and heads east up Jefferson Drive returning to 7th Street where it ends. Depending on the fitness and/or the mindset of the walker, this hike could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more.
 The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

This walk begins by zigzagging across the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, 6.1 acres, bordered by Constitution Avenue, Seventh Street and the National Mall. Covered in perennials, ground covers, shrubs, flowering trees and several works of twentieth-century sculpture by Miro, Bourgeois, Scott Burton, Barry Flanagan and Alexander Calder to name a few, its linden-tree-ringed central fountain becomes a skating rink in the winter. Live jazz concerts spice up the Garden certain Friday evenings during the summer months
Be sure to go on to Part I Continued as the walk turns around and goes up the other side of the Mall.

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


Six-Part SeatingSix-Part Seating
Six-Part Seating

Some works of art (Six-Part Seating by American Scott Burton) are meant for touching, sitting.
The Thinker & FriendThe Thinker & Friend
The Thinker & Friend

The other works of art: Do not touch! But posing is OK. Like this "tourist" next to Barry Flanagan's (British) Thinker on a Rock.
Fountain-Cum-Skating RinkFountain-Cum-Skating Rink
Fountain-Cum-Skating Rink

The Sculpture Garden's concrete fountain becomes an ice-skating rink in the winter.
A Place To Cool OffA Place To Cool Off
A Place To Cool Off

A great place to cool off on one of those torrid DC summer days. But this hike has just begun, not time yet for a break. We're almost out the other end of the Sculpture Garden and into the National Mall.
The Archives In The BackgroundThe Archives In The Background
The Archives In The Background

The fountain mixing it up with the National Archives filling in the background.
Leaving The Scuplture GardenLeaving The Scuplture Garden
Leaving The Scuplture Garden

Here we go, scooting out of the Sculpture Garden on to the National Mall
The Disobedient "Tourist"The Disobedient "Tourist"
The Disobedient "Tourist"

Some "tourists" just won't obey the rules.
The Butterfly Habitat GardenThe Butterfly Habitat Garden
The Butterfly Habitat Garden

But before we fly down the Mall sidewalk, let's detour through the Butterfly Habitat Garden: One of the Mall's more subtle treasures. Located on the east side of the Natural History Museum, it runs from the Mall sidewalk to the corner of 9th Street and Constitution Avenue.
Where Are The Butterflies?Where Are The Butterflies?
Where Are The Butterflies?

The Garden Club of America designated the Butterfly Habitat Garden as one of its Founder's Fund Projects in 2000.
Denizens Of The Butterfly GardenDenizens Of The Butterfly Garden
Denizens Of The Butterfly Garden

Mourning Cloaks, Painted Ladies, Commas, Monarchs, Buckeyes, Tiger Swallowtails, Red Admirals, Viceroys and Homo sapiens float, flit and jog through the Butterfly Garden during DC's warm weather months.
An Amazing MimicAn Amazing Mimic
An Amazing Mimic

On your hike you will meet DC's best wildlife crooner: The Eastern Mockingbird with its remarkable talent for the songs of other birds. A personal favorite.
Robins TooRobins Too
Robins Too

Mother Robin catching her breath after a round of heady worm-prospecting in the Butterfly Garden.
The National Museum Of Natural HistoryThe National Museum Of Natural History
The National Museum Of Natural History

Back on the Mall now, we pass the National Museum of Natural History, awash in another kind of wildlife: Kids on class trips. One of the most visited museums in the world, Natural History displays fossils, precious stones, dinosaur skeletons plus past and present human cultures. It even houses an insect zoo.

After passing Natural History, this trek continues west along Madison Drive. Possibly time for a Popsicle, possibly not.
Drums Along The MallDrums Along The Mall
Drums Along The Mall

Stepping with a beat down Madison Drive.

A glance to the south, the other side of the Mall, at the Smithsonian Castle. We pass it on the turnaround.
The National Museum Of American HistoryThe National Museum Of American History
The National Museum Of American History

We're almost to 14th Street, passing the National Museum of American History: Showcase for important and popular American icons like The Star-Spangled Banner, Mr. Roger's red cardigan, Julia Child's kitchen, First Ladies' gowns, the Fonz's leather jacket, even Archie Bunker's armchair. In more serious tones, the American Encounters Exhibit tackles some of the more trooblesome issues of American history.
The Ice Cream ManThe Ice Cream Man
The Ice Cream Man

Outside American History, a happy "wanderer" has his picture snapped next to his favorie American icon. Flavors of choice: orange-creamsicle, almond crunch bar and the good 'ole' Good Humor Bar.
Looking Up The EsplanadeLooking Up The Esplanade
Looking Up The Esplanade

Now on 14th Street staring east the length of the National Mall. The sun rises every morning over the Capitol Building. Is there a hidden message in that?
To Walk, To Jog, To BicycleTo Walk, To Jog, To Bicycle
To Walk, To Jog, To Bicycle

Hearty locals jog, powerwalk and bicycle the Mall's gravelly track's perimeter. Softball, frisbee, touch football and kite-flying consume the grassy part of the Mall when its not covered by festival tents or protestors.

5th May 2006

What great pictures you took! I saw some of these places when I visited DC. Your pictures and comment make me feel that I want to go there! Have a good golden week:-) here is now in the golden week!
8th May 2006

Hi there!
Hi Don, Great to hear from you and nice to read your stories. The last time I was in Washington DC (yes, that time that you just moved out) it was -12'C (ffffreeezing!). So different from your pictures...so green instead of snowy white ;) Here in Holland everything is fine. Our first sunny days (24'C)! So Marc, Jaro and I are enjoying the little walks that we make in our neighbourhood. Big hug from all of us Tanja
7th March 2011
To Walk, To Jog, To Bicycle

Look who typed in your Vietnamese university and found your ?blog?. I've never seen one before. Do you guess still own your house out in Haslette or wherever? Don I am ready for the one million slides you promised. We may need multiple days! When you coming home?

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