The transformation of the Mall area and the surrounding neighborhood allowed powerful members of society to rewrite the more sordid aspects of local history, including the presence of enslaved people at the market, the brothels that lined the Mall, and the unlicensed liquor houses that operated within site of the White House. Not only does current interpretation ignore the history of these underrepresented groups on the Mall, it intentionally rewrites the history of the city that glorifies the white male politicians who displaced these minority groups.
This abstract explores the role of the National Mall in the greater public consciousness and its implications as one of the most contested and symbolic landscapes in American history. The recent inauguration and Million Women March further demonstrates the power of the National Mall as a symbol of power, dissent, and change. Relying on material culture, oral histories, city maps, census records, and existing interpretive programs, I examine how the National Mall was used as a tool to further political agendas, to refine the working-class, and to create social boundaries, and how the layout of space is indicative of larger national trends concerning the role of the Federal Government in the lives of its citizens.