National Geographic : 1966 Jul
For the last stop on our parks tour I have been saving Washington, D. C.-a most im portant place to me, personally, for I work and live there. But to a Director of National Parks, the Capital of the United States has added significance: The whole city, in a very real sense, is a national park. Because Washington belongs to no state, but to the Nation itself, the Federal Govern ment long ago selected the National Park Service as the logical agency to tend its grass, trees, flowers, and historic shrines. In conse quence we administer some 700 pieces of park property in the Capital area, from the White House grounds and wooded Rock Creek Park to tiny squares with a single statue and a few benches for meditative passers-by. What we do with these properties not only determines the look of Washington, but sets a standard for the entire Nation. And what do we propose to do about Wash ington? Well, basically, we're going back to 88 its beginnings, to the magnificent concept of the man who laid it out, the French engineer Pierre Charles L'Enfant. He envisaged a Capital City of parks and open spaces, of stately avenues, of sweeping vistas. But as the Nation grew, and with it the housing needs of its government, L'En fant's dream was too often ignored. As a re sult, pockets of clutter, blight, and ugliness have appeared in the Nation's Capital as in every other American city. First Shot: A Million Flower Seeds Under the inspiring leadership of Mrs. Lyn don B. Johnson, we will wage major war against this blight. The first shot, fired last summer, scattered a million flower seeds. We are putting up a whole barrage this summer, to the end that Washington shall be a city of fflower-flowers in more than 70 brand-new gardens, flowers in older parks, flowers in pots and tubs.