National Geographic : 1967 Apr
brighten the Mall Today's proposals, drawn by the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill as consultant to Secretary Udall, envision a bright new life for the proud but empty space. Acres of trees would shelter kiosks, restaurants, even carrousels like that tried out last summer by the Smithsonian Institution. Summer evenings would be spangled with Son et Lumiere-sound and light-bring ing the city's history alive. Sightseers would shuttle about on small trackless trains that, when tried experimentally (below, right), proved the most popular rides in town. said. We sailed along for a block or two, and I wondered how anybody could see much at that clip. We finally came to a red light, and I swooped in behind the quarry. "She's in disguise!" I exclaimed. We peered into the small rear win dow. Wrong car! A happy bride turned and smiled at us. Flushed and foolish, I turned into a side street. For the rest of the day, you might say that the First Lady of the United States and I went to different schools together. We visited the Buchanan School, where real little boys were playing in a barren yard. We followed South Capitol Street's broad swath be tween slum and redevelopment areas. Once, I think, we even caught a glimpse of each other as we sped determinedly in different directions. Since we both had engagements for dinner, she went back to the White House, and I joined a traffic jam on Constitution Avenue. Evening had fallen on the eastern city behind me, but up ahead the Mall stretched like the very image of order toward a river still molten with sun set. It seemed absurd to think it, but the scene before me was destined for a higher grandeur. Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall intends to give the Mall an exciting new public role. The National Park Service is al ready experimenting with tourist trains to shuttle visitors to museums and monuments. One morning I joined a group wait ing for such a train at the memorial to Gen. George G. Meade, who led the Union troops at Gettysburg.