National Mall / Public Promenade

Photo: Facing West across the Washington Mall, with one's back towards the United States Capitol. (Source: Wikipedia)

As we watch the Inaugural proceedings on the National Mall, we should remember that Memphis' Public Promenade was intended to serve the same function locally. It was to be a great public space, where citizens could gather and celebrate our heritage, while experiencing the vista from the great bluffs.

Like the National Mall, our Public Promenade was designed into the City plan, and was placed at its very center, both physically, and in a profoundly civic sense.

Interestingly, both
have their brick "castles" -- the Smithsonian on the Mall, the old Cossitt library on the Promenade.

Like our Promenade, the National Mall, was neglected, forgotten and even abused for many years. During World War I, the government built a line of ugly concrete structures along the Mall's northern edge (Constitution Ave), to house parts of Navy and War Department. After the war was over, the buildings remained, even through yet another war. They were not torn down until 1970. In their place, today the grass and trees have been restored. Part of that restored section is now where the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located -- one of the most visited memorials in Washington.

The National Park Service now maintains the Mall -- just as the Promenade was once the responsibility of the Memphis Park Commission, disbanded by Mayor Herenton in 2000.

We have neglected and abused our Promenade. Nobody would argue that. But it is not too late for us to restore the Promenade to its originally envisioned greatness. It will be too late, however, if the Public Promenade is condemned and turned over to private development.

To read more about the National Mall, often called America's front door and an expression of our national identity, click here.
For information about it's neglect and misuse, click here.
For a map of monuments and museums on the Mall that document our country's history, click here.
For a map of the parade route, click here.