During the 1800s the White House was much more accessible than it is today and informal social events were often held at the executive mansion. In this photo, a group is picnicking on the White House grounds with the Treasury Department building visible in the background. Unlike today, this area has the look of a forest with many large trees. Before the McMillan Commission’s redesign of the Mall in 1902 the area was a series of meandering paths, gardens, and dense trees.
Learn more at Histories of the National Mall.