pierre l'enfant


Pierre (preferred being called Peter) Charles L'Enfant. Born August 2, 1754, Paris France. Oh, and his short bud Kenneth R. Bowling.

Some fun facts

- GWash hired L'Enfant in 1791 to prepare a plan for the federal capital on Potomac River.

- TJeffs gave him maps of various European cities

- GWash was forced to dismiss him in 1792 for obstinacy in defying the commissions of the city

Day 125: February 10, 2015

Washington Circle

Dupont Circle is the one that gets name checked the most on TV, but a count of the “List of Circles of Washington, D.C.” Wikipedia page tells you there are 35 traffic circles in the District of Columbia. For the most part they’re a product of the original plan for the city by Pierre L'Enfant from 1791, which features a grid system overlaid with diagonal “grand avenues” that criss-cross each other at weird angles. L'Enfant, in turn, appears to have been inspired by Georges-Eugene Haussmann’s “renovation of Paris” at the behest of Napoleon III two decades earlier. Haussmann was given leave to demolish many of Paris’ old, medieval neighborhoods (which, uncoincidentally, made it harder for Les Miserables-type rebels to barricade the streets) and replace them with grand avenues like the Champs-Elysees. L'Enfant, a Frenchman, of course saw Paris as the center of the world and the obvious model for any new capital city. Anyway, Washington Circle features, as you might expect, a large post-Civil War equestrian statue of George Washington in the middle and sits at the intersection of Pennsylvania and New Hamphire Avenues, as well as K & 23rd Streets NW. This photo was taken facing west toward Georgetown.

Washington, DC

This is me standing at the very center point in D.C.

Washington D.C. is actually very nicely designed by Pierre L'Enfant (his last name is actually a metro stop on the green & yellow line).

L'Enfant was pretty OCD about having D.C. shaped very rectangular and grid-like. There are four quadrants: NW, NE, SW, SE. The axes for the quadrants are from the Capitol building. 

L'Enfant was very particular about the city’s geometry, so particular that Jefferson was not in the mood for the drama and therefore fired him.

He replaced him with another planner who finished off the construction of the city. However, L'Enfant did all the core design, and no one really remembers the second guy because in the end, who has a metro stop named after him?

FACT #15: The Genius Architect

FACT: Before making his architectural debut in the newly formed United States with his designs for Washington D.C., Pierre l'Enfant made his name throughout Europe with his less than typical building designs. Some of his more memorable ventures include: the Vienna Capitol Building, which was designed inside out, the Paris Library, made entirely of burning Englishmen, and the one floor, 6-thousand acre, wall-less, invisible Irish Parliament which l'Enfant described as “my greatest work yet. I am, how you say, genius? And Jesus, yes?” In the following brutal winter, 600 Irish statesmen died of exposure.