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The National Mall is one of the most visited places in Washington, D.C. Pierre l’Enfant, the French engineer who designed the layout of the city, conceptualized the Mall. His vision of a boulevard lined with lush vegetation and majestic homes never materialized. The East Mall is the section of this nearly two-mile expanse that extends from the U.S. Capitol building to the Washington Monument. It was the focal point of the 1902 McMillan Commission’s redevelopment plan. The commission’s goal was to create a green space east of the Washington Monument that would be lined with elm trees, contain park-like roads and be surrounded by museums. As a result, the East National Mall is often considered the “proper” part of the park and is colloquially referred to as “America’s front yard.” The East Mall is where crowds gather to watch the inauguration of U.S. presidents on the steps of the Capitol.
The East Mall is flanked by many architecturally impressive buildings. There are nine Smithsonian museums, including the Castle, the Museum of American History, the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. Visitors can tour the National Gallery of Art, the Sculpture Garden, the U.S. Botanic Gardens and the Capitol building. In addition to the Washington Monument, the East Mall contains an equestrian statue of Ulysses S. Grant.