Washington D.C.'s National Mall is crumbling. Many say now's the time to start thinking about a new future for one of America's most prized public spaces.
"Crumbling sidewalks, dead grass and water dirty enough to kill animals: it's a sorry state of affairs, prompting a growing number of activists to proclaim America's "front yard" a national disgrace and to launch a series of plans aimed at the most sweeping revitalization of the area in more than a century."
"The 200-year-old national park's age spots are readily evident. A sea wall propping up the area by the Jefferson Memorial is slowly sinking into the tidal basin; flooded and cracked walkways are cordoned off. Maps are hard to find and outdated, omitting the Franklin Roosevelt and Korean War memorials, which have been in place for more than a decade. Throughout the 1,000-acre Mall, the footprints of 25 million yearly visitors have worn bare patches in the turf where grass no longer grows. Food, water and bathrooms are scarce, as are parking, public transportation and shady places to sit."
"'The area is being loved to death,' said National Park Service spokesman Bill Line, who says more than 3,000 permits for demonstrations and special events are granted each year. 'This is one of the most intensely used public spaces not only in this country but in the world. If 25 million people walked through your front yard, it might not look so nice either. So we are asking the American public what they want this space to become.'"