Op-Ed: How to Make Over Pennsylvania Avenue

The Washington, D.C. street briefly regained its former vibrancy during the pandemic. A proposed redesign could bring it back once again.

1 minute read

August 6, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View down Pennsylvania Avenue with U.S. capitol in background and bike lane in middle of street

Pennsylvania Avenue has been expanded into a broad eight-lane street. | Sergey Novikov / Washington, D.C.

According to the Washington Post editorial board, D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue “is overdue for a makeover.” 

While its image evokes the grandeur of presidential inaugural parades, the mile-long stretch between the White House and the Capitol has also hosted everything from Black Lives Matter demonstrations and women’s suffrage protests to BBQ festivals and a Wonder Woman movie set. As the nation emerges from the pandemic, transforming this symbolic boulevard codifies the new role America’s ‘main streets’ can play in bringing people together.

With the National Capital Planning Commission undertaking a major overhaul of the avenue, now is the time to reenvision the street as it once was: “a fun place to eat, drink, shop, play tourist, ice skate, play chess, watch a hit play, absorb art, commune with dead heroes, [and] browse among antiques.”

The editorial board points out that “What people want — and need — from downtown has shifted dramatically after the pandemic. There’s an awakened desire for more communal space, more green space and unique experiences.” The new plan for Pennsylvania Avenue should reflect that. “Pennsylvania Avenue should be a destination itself, as well as a key connection point from the museums and monuments on the Mall to the shops, restaurants, entertainment and hotels in the rest of the city.”

Thursday, August 3, 2023 in The Washington Post

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