National Geographic : 1957 Jan
read a trend into it if you like, but until recently our best seller was Auguste Renoir's 'A Girl with a Watering Can.' Then Mr. Chester Dale loaned the gallery Salvador Dali's 'Sacrament of the Last Supper,' and now we're selling more copies of that than anything else." Outside we saw a scene that might have been conceived by Dali himself. The water in a fountain across the street had turned bright green. A breeze fanned the froth until bubbles drifted toward the gallery and hung there against the rose-white Tennessee marble facade, which glowed pink under a sudden drizzle. Some prankster had dumped a bubble-bath mixture into the fountain. Parklike Circles Confuse Motorists Because the Avenue strikes diagonally across the city to Georgetown, it shears whole blocks in two, leaving bits and pieces of streets strewn on either side. The same is true of other main thoroughfares, also named for various States. L'Enfant planned it that way. At frequent intervals he established areas where impor tant streets would meet and sort themselves out. Though now a trial to motorists, L'En fant's scheme created many small parks and circles, cheerful oases among overpowering expanses of marble, granite, and sandstone. Where Pennsylvania and Constitution Ave nues come together at such an angle, the Apex Building commands the eastern end of a planned geometric development called the Federal Triangle. Twelve Government build ings, some a block long and all about seven stories high, make up the Triangle. The Federal Trade Commission occupies the Apex Building. Commission employees, lunching in the seventh-floor cafeteria, look through enormous curved windows upon a matchless view of the Capitol's west front. Most of the Triangle buildings, of classic design, were put up between 1930 and 1937. They came as a belated result of a report issued in 1902 by the McMillan Commission, which found Washington drifting away from the L'Enfant plan toward architectural dis order. The commission recommended a rea sonable return to L'Enfant's first principles. Soon we stood outside the National Ar chives Building, raised on a truly historic site. Sounds of barter no longer ring out as when the old Center Market occupied this ground. But many Washingtonians remember coming here as children to help their mothers fill a basket on market day. First Secretary Alexander Hamilton Still Guards the Treasury A native of the island of Nevis, British West Indies, Hamilton began writing and speaking for patriot causes as a student in King's College, later Columbia University, New York. During the Revolution he organized and fought with an artillery company until called to be George Washington's secretary and aide. Following the war he wrote most of "The Federalist" essays in support of the Constitution. Hamilton led the faction favoring a strong central government. When Washington assumed the Presidency, Hamil ton became the first Secretary of the Treasury. As his crowning achievements, he established the credit of the infant Republic and founded the Bank of the United States. Death in a pistol duel with Vice President Aaron Burr ended his career July 12, 1804. This year the United States observes the 200th an niversary of Hamilton's traditional birth date. Re cently his exact age came into question. Historians, digging into the colonial archives of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, where Hamilton's mother died, found court records showing he was born in 1755, not 1757, the generally accepted date. The bronze statue by James Earle Fraser stands at the south entrance to the Treasury Building.