The White House

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

DC Trip 2023

Washington, DC possesses the largest concentration of National Park Service units of any metropolitan area. I decided to use one of my long weekends in April to visit DC and check a few units off my list. I toured several memorials, monuments and other sites. I’d tried to arrange a tour of the White House, but it was a popular week. So I went to the White House Visitor Center and walked the parks that provide views.

The National Mall

The National Mall stretches from the Capitol to the Potomac River. It serves as “America’s Front Lawn” and its premiere civic and symbolic space. Originally in the L’Enfant plan for the city, the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit of the NPS protects iconic monuments and memorials and over 1,000 acres of greenspace. The famous White House lies on the northern side of the Mall, a half-mile from the Washington Monument.

The White House

The White House has served as the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States for every president since John Adams. The national capital moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in 1800. The neoclassical mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue evolved over the years.

The British set fire to the White House in 1814 during the War of 1812, destroying the interior. President Monroe moved back in to the reconstructed residence in 1817. The West Wing was added and President Theodore Roosevelt moved all work offices there in 1901. President William Howard Taft expanded the West Wing and created the first Oval Office in 1909.

In 1948, the structure’s wood beams were discovered to be close to failure. President Harry S. Truman had the interior dismantled and a new internal load-bearing steel frame constructed inside the walls. This renovation added the Truman Balcony and the interior rooms were rebuilt.

Today, the White House complex includes the Executive Residence, the West Wing, the East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the Blair House, a guest residence. The property is a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President’s Park.

To tour the White House, you must request the visit in advance from your congressional representative. If you don’t succeed, you can still go to the White House Visitor Center at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. The center houses several exhibits and a film in a historic art deco building. The White House is best viewed from Pennsylvania Avenue near Lafayette Square.

2023 DC Trip Posts

Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Designation: National Heritage Site
Date designated/established: November 1, 1800
Date of my visit: April 7, 2023