rare mammoth plate panorama of the National Mall
WASHINGTON, D.C. Photographer unidentified.. Panoramic view of Washington, D.C., with the Capitol dominating the scene in the distance
Washington, c. 1877-1882
Mammoth plate albumen print (21 x 15 1⁄4 in.), mounted on linen. Retouched in the negative. Some wear and soiling, some fading, a few creases. A rare survival.
This magnificent mammoth plate panorama shows the National Mall and the Capitol as seen from the Smithsonian Castle.
Several elements indicate the approximate date of this photograph. The Bartholdi Fountain is present. Made for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, it was moved to the grounds of the Botanic Gardens on the Mall in 1877. Work on the marble terraces on the west side of the Capitol grounds began in 1882, but that construction is not evident here.
The photograph shows a National Mall unlike what we know today. The great lawns shown here were filled with trees in the following decades, many of them subsequently removed for construction and for restorations of the lawns. The Baltimore and Potomac railroad tracks, where Charles Guiteau would shoot James Garfield in 1881, run partway across the Mall at 6th Street. The Smithsonian museums of today are not yet present. Instead, scattered houses and small buildings pepper the landscape.
This mammoth view is rare. We have not been able to trace another example.