Progressive Politics the McMillan Plan and the Expression of an American Identity

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Virginia Dodd (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
Charles W. (Charles William) 1948- Calhoun

Abstract: The knowledge that Washington was a city for all Americans and a representative of the ideals and values of this country drove the members of the Senate Park Commission to make Washington the most beautiful the most healthful and the most successful city in the nation. In their manufacture of a comprehensive plan for the city they were influenced by District residents and citizens nationwide alike and they were under an immense amount of pressure personal political and professional to present a product of unrivaled quality and expertise. This paper argues that as citizens shaped the District into their idea of an ideal capital they revealed deep-seated values including the importance of education the efficacy of social activism and the value of nature which have become fundamental aspects of a uniquely American identity. Chapter 1 summarizes the field of Washingtoniana study and presents the sense of historical discomfort surrounding the capital's ambiguous aesthetic identity. Chapter 2 follows the rise of Americans' patriotic loyalty to their capital city in the first hundred years of its existence. Chapter 3 examines the national and local reform movements that fed the Senate Park Commission's thrust toward the ideal city and society and Chapter 4 explores how the Plan's reform initiatives specifically altered the capital's foundational plan and legitimized its American loyalties. As a study of the capital district this paper attempts to extrapolate meaning from the Senate Park Commission's plan for Washington in order to better understand American identity. 

Additional Information

Date: 2012
History, American history, Urban planning, District of Columbia, McMillan Plan, park planning
City planning--Washington (D.C.)
United States. Senate Park Commission
Washington (D.C.)--History

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