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The Nation’s Capital in Spring – Pic of the Week

A tree blooms on the grounds of the Capitol.  [Photo by Betty Lupinacci]

A white magnolia blooms on the grounds of the Capitol. The snowplow under it does not trust that winter is over. [Photo by Betty Lupinacci]

Cherry blossoms are in full bloom.  Congress is busy with budget hearings.  All vehicles – no matter what color they were originally painted – are now yellow with pollen.  It is spring in the nation’s capital.

For the beauty of our immediate surroundings here on Capitol Hill, we must thank Frederick Law Olmsted (how can you go wrong with middle name like “Law”?), the prominent American landscape architect.  Olmsted designed no fewer than 550 parks and public spaces throughout the United States, including the grounds of the Capitol Building.

In the appropriations passed on March 21, 1874, Congress allocated $3,000 for a topographical survey of the Capitol grounds and also hired Olmsted to complete a design for the grounds. (18 Stat. 23)  Olmsted incorporated over 100 varieties of trees (mostly deciduous) and bushes, whose blooms hearken the spring.  Congress approved the continuing work on the Capitol grounds by appropriating $20,000 in April of 1876.  (19 Stat. 35)  The design and implementation of the expanded grounds – including the marble terraces surrounding the Capitol, the grand staircase, a brick “summerhouse” for respite from the sun, pedestrian and vehicular paths, and all of the landscaping – took 18 years to complete.

The image above is rather representative of the kind of weather we have been having lately.  While the tree is burgeoning with flowers, a snowplow with an attached salt spreader waits below for a radical change in the weather.

2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Harbster
    April 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    If you love Frederick Law Olmstead the Library of Congress manuscript room has his papers //hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/eadmss.ms001019 and the Olmstead Associations papers //hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/eadmss.ms001018 and much more- books he has written, books about him…treasure trove for the Olmstead enthusiast and historian.

  2. Andrew Weber
    April 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks, Jennifer!

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