In September 1888 a tornado, called a cyclone by the press, touched down on Maryland Avenue SW. It damaged the roofs of the National Museum and the Fish Commission buildings. Just north of the Fish Commission buildings, a group of houses and businesses were damaged. The Botanic Garden, then located in line with the Capitol, also sustained damage to its greenhouses and some of the plants. A group of sea turtles at the Fish Commission attempted to escape onto the Mall when their gate broke down, but the watchman in charge managed to return them to their pen:

"When the storm first broke it blew out the gates of the yard at the Fish Commission Building, and a number of sea turtles that had been placed there for safe keeping, seeing the way clear and recognizing the storm as belonging to their native elements, made a break for liberty. They were slowly making their way over the railroad tracks when they were discovered by the watchman. Then ensued a chase between the guardian and the turtles. At first the watchman attempted to herd them as he would cattle, but that was a failure. Finally, after much perspiration-inducing work, he succeeded, by dragging some an driving others, in getting them safely corralled again." (from the washingtonpost )

Read the article at Histories of the National Mall

In September 1888 a tornado, called a cyclone by the press, touched down on Maryland Avenue SW. It damaged the roofs of the National Museum and the Fish Commission buildings. Just north of the Fish Commission buildings, a group of houses and businesses were damaged. The Botanic Garden, then located in line with the Capitol, also sustained damage to its greenhouses and some of the plants. A group of sea turtles at the Fish Commission attempted to escape onto the Mall when their gate broke down, but the watchman in charge managed to return them to their pen:

"When the storm first broke it blew out the gates of the yard at the Fish Commission Building, and a number of sea turtles that had been placed there for safe keeping, seeing the way clear and recognizing the storm as belonging to their native elements, made a break for liberty. They were slowly making their way over the railroad tracks when they were discovered by the watchman. Then ensued a chase between the guardian and the turtles. At first the watchman attempted to herd them as he would cattle, but that was a failure. Finally, after much perspiration-inducing work, he succeeded, by dragging some an driving others, in getting them safely corralled again." (from the washingtonpost )

Read the article at Histories of the National Mall


This photograph was taken around 1890, when the Mall was landscaped according to a design by Andrew Jackson Downing. Rather than the wide open lawn edged with trees we see today, this section of the Mall was covered in small evergreens with a winding path. This deer may have been wild, enjoying a forested spot in the city, or part of the Smithsonian’s Department of Living Animals.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.

This photograph was taken around 1890, when the Mall was landscaped according to a design by Andrew Jackson Downing. Rather than the wide open lawn edged with trees we see today, this section of the Mall was covered in small evergreens with a winding path. This deer may have been wild, enjoying a forested spot in the city, or part of the Smithsonian’s Department of Living Animals.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.


The National Powwows began in September 2002. They were organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in anticipation of the opening of the museum. The events were attended by thousands from the US and Canada to celebrate American Indian culture through dancing, music, food, clothing, and events. Hundreds of tribes participated in a dance competition at the powwow, where members of the tribe wore traditional clothing. Subsequent powwows were held in 2005 and 2007.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.

The National Powwows began in September 2002. They were organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in anticipation of the opening of the museum. The events were attended by thousands from the US and Canada to celebrate American Indian culture through dancing, music, food, clothing, and events. Hundreds of tribes participated in a dance competition at the powwow, where members of the tribe wore traditional clothing. Subsequent powwows were held in 2005 and 2007.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.


Freeman Hunt wrote a series of articles for his Merchants’ Magazine in the spring of 1848 describing the history and current state of the capital city, which was mostly undeveloped at the time. In the second installment of the series he wrote about the Mall. Although it looked like a cow pasture, Freeman felt that it would be relatively easy and inexpensive to make a space which would rival the avenues and parks of Europe.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.

Freeman Hunt wrote a series of articles for his Merchants’ Magazine in the spring of 1848 describing the history and current state of the capital city, which was mostly undeveloped at the time. In the second installment of the series he wrote about the Mall. Although it looked like a cow pasture, Freeman felt that it would be relatively easy and inexpensive to make a space which would rival the avenues and parks of Europe.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.

Why did Congress almost leave Washington in 1814?

During the War of 1812, British troops marched into Washington, DC, burning the US Capitol, the White House, and other public buildings around the National Mall. As buildings went up in flames, a violent thunderstorm and tornado further damaged the city. Demoralized by the massive destruction of the 14-year old capital, Congress debated whether to move the seat of government from Washington. The burning of Washington in August 1814 awoke arguments that began in the 1790s opposing the relocation of the national capital from Philadelphia to its present site on the Potomac.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.


The Redwood Tree House stood on the grounds of the US Department of Agriculture for 38 years, between 1894 and 1932. Harvested in California, it had been displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago before coming to Washington. The giant Redwood stood 26 feet across and 36 feet high, and as a tree house, it contained a staircase and a viewing platform at the top. Visitors to the Mall could climb the staircase to enjoy the view.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.

The Redwood Tree House stood on the grounds of the US Department of Agriculture for 38 years, between 1894 and 1932. Harvested in California, it had been displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago before coming to Washington. The giant Redwood stood 26 feet across and 36 feet high, and as a tree house, it contained a staircase and a viewing platform at the top. Visitors to the Mall could climb the staircase to enjoy the view.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.


The National Black Family Reunion is a cultural event held annually on the Mall. Sponsored by the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), the event celebrates black community, church, and family values. It was first established by Dr. Dorothy I. Height, former chair of the NCNW and longtime activist, to combat negative stereotypes about the African American family. The event features food, entertainment, education, and cultural activities.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.

The National Black Family Reunion is a cultural event held annually on the Mall. Sponsored by the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), the event celebrates black community, church, and family values. It was first established by Dr. Dorothy I. Height, former chair of the NCNW and longtime activist, to combat negative stereotypes about the African American family. The event features food, entertainment, education, and cultural activities.

Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.