Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Historical society party launches our book

      Mud-filled streets. A red line slashing across the iconic map of Pierre L'Enfant's plan for the capital.  Cloning the Champs Elysées. Sherlock Holmes....
      Guests learned the connections among these things at a reception launching our book A Grand Avenue Revival at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. December 6.
Neither rain nor downtown traffic kept history fans away.
       Deborah Shapley, author, explained why Mass Ave was planned by L'Enfant as the city's longest east-west avenue (the red-line slash graphic). She said the post-Civil War leaders of Washington copied the Champs Elysées' use of parked green space and tree rows to create a designed public thoroughfare - and to save money on the amount of muddy roadway to be paved.
        RMA's first phase, she said, had been devoted to adding trees to reform the historic allées along the two-mile Embassy Row section of Mass Ave -- which originally had seven miles of linden allées.  She thanked Casey Trees for having donated historic-type trees, that, parallel with city sidewalk trees, are regrowing the original views.
     A Grand Avenue Revival is the platform for RMA's next goal: complete landscape restoration, so future generations can enjoy the original landscape highlighting the street's famous architecture.
     But what, exactly, was that landscape?
Craig Moran, Lily Nguyen
     The answers are shown in the book, based old-photo sleuthing worthy of Sherlock Holmes!
Deborah Shapley with John Suau and Anne McDonough of HSW

Barbara J. Saffir
Norma Lombardi
Davis Lee Kennedy
     Guests included the designer of the innovative volume, Sally Murray James, of Cutting Edge Design DC, Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees, introduced Ms. Shapley.  Guests included Dr. Clifford Janey, Embassy Row resident and DC Schools Superintendent under Mayor Anthony Williams. Davis Lee Kennedy, publisher of The Current, attended. Among the DC history fans was Barbara J. Saffir, author of Walking Washington, DC.
        HSW's locale at the Carnegie Library of Washington at Mass Ave and 9th Street NW, was a special venue linked to the crucial period described in the book. We offer special thanks to John Suau, Executive Director of HSW, and the staff, particularly events manager Karen Harris.
         View some of the Dec 6 presentation on our Historic Initiative Page.  Our website offers free download of A Grand Avenue Revival.  Request your free print copy on our Contact Us page.
                                                                                  Photos:  Richard Royce/RMA

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