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Pierre-Charles L'Enfant

Pierre-Charles L'Enfant was a French-born American architect and civil engineer best known for his work on the design of Washington D.C.

L'Enfant established a successful and highly profitable civil engineering firm in New York City. He achieved some fame as an architect by redesigning the City Hall in New York for the First Congress in Federal Hall. He also designed coins, medals, furniture and houses of the wealthy, and he was a friend of Alexander Hamilton.

President George Washington appointed L'Enfant in 1791 to design the new capital city under the supervision of three Commissioners, whom Washington had appointed to oversee the planning and development of the ten-mile square of federal territory that would later become the District of Columbia. Thomas Jefferson, who worked alongside President Washington in overseeing the plans for the capital, sent L'Enfant a letter outlining his task, which was to provide a drawing of suitable sites for the federal city and the public buildings. Though Jefferson had modest ideas for the Capital, L'Enfant saw the task as far more grandiose, believing he was not only locating the capital, but also included devising the city plan and designing the buildings.

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