Independence Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Architecture, General, Museums, Exhibitions, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks

1900 Independence Avenue © flickr.com - Tim Evanson/cc-by-sa-2.0

1900 Independence Avenue © flickr.com – Tim Evanson/cc-by-sa-2.0

Independence Avenue is a major east-west street in the southwest and southeast quadrants of the city of Washington, D.C., running just south of the United States Capitol. Originally named South B Street, Independence Avenue SW was constructed between 1791 and 1823. Independence Avenue SE was constructed in pieces as residential development occurred east of the United States Capitol and east of the Anacostia River. Independence Avenue SW received its current name after Congress renamed the street in legislation approved on April 13, 1934. Independence Avenue SW originally had its western terminus at 14th Street SW, but was extended west to Ohio Drive SW between 1941 and 1942. The government of the District of Columbia renamed the portion of the road in the southeast quadrant of the city (west of the Anacostia River) in 1950.

The western terminus of Independence Avenue is south of the Lincoln Memorial at the intersection of Ohio Drive SW and 23rd Street SW. The street contains three lanes of traffic in each direction, and eastbound and westbound lanes are divided by a 55-foot (17 m) grassy median. The John Ericsson National Memorial is located southwest to this terminus. Going eastward, Independence Avenue passes through West Potomac Park, creating an informal boundary to the National Mall. The Korean War Veterans Memorial is adjacent to the avenue’s north edge about 600 feet (180 m) east of the terminus. After passing West Basin Drive SW, motorists can see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial adjacent to the roadway to the south and the District of Columbia War Memorial adjacent to the roadway to the north.

As Independence Avenue SW approaches the Tidal Basin, the westbound lanes curve north toward 17th Street SW to avoid a bay in the Basin. The John Paul Jones Memorial stands where 17th Street SW meets Independence Avenue SW. The eastbound lanes cross the Tidal Basin via the Kutz Bridge. Small off-ramps allow westbound traffic to return eastbound, and eastbound traffic to return westbound, essentially ringing the Tidal Basin bay with roadways. East of the Tidal Basin, Maine Avenue SW joins westbound Independence Avenue. An off-ramp allows eastbound Independence Avenue traffic to access Maine Avenue SW, and then an unnamed bridge creates a grade separation between elevated Independence Avenue and entrenched Maine Avenue. Both lanes of Independence Avenue curve gently through this area before moving northward to avoid the Sidney Yates Federal Building (the red brick, Romanesque Revival headquarters of the United States Forest Service). The two lanes merge into a single street with no median at Raoul Wallenberg Place SW (e.g., 14th Street SW) before curving slightly south to straighten into a formal east-west aligned ceremonial avenue.

Korean War Veterans Memorial © Library of Congress - Carol M. Highsmith United States Capitol © Martin Falbisoner/cc-by-sa-3.0 West Potomac Park © Library of Congress - Carol M. Highsmith 1900 Independence Avenue © flickr.com - Tim Evanson/cc-by-sa-2.0 Independence Avenue on Capitol Hill © Ser Amantio di Nicolao/cc-by-sa-3.0 D.C. Armory © AgnosticPreachersKid/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Independence Avenue on Capitol Hill © Ser Amantio di Nicolao/cc-by-sa-3.0
Between 14th Street SW and 2nd Street SW, Independence Avenue is lined with museums and federal office buildings. On the north side of the street (west to east) are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s headquarters (the Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building), the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (both art museums belonging to the Smithsonian Institution), the Smithsonian Institution Building, the National Museum of African Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the United States Botanic Garden. On the south side of the street (west to east) are the Department of Agriculture’s South Building, the James V. Forrestal Building (headquarters of the United States Department of Energy), the Wilbur Wright Federal Building and the Orville Wright Federal Building (headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration), the Wilbur J. Cohen Federal Building (occupied by the United States Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]), and the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (headquarters of HHS).

At 2nd Street SW, Independence Avenue SW meets Washington Avenue SW, a major thoroughfare providing access to Interstate 395 and South Capitol Street.

Independence Avenue SW/SE forms the southern boundary of the grounds of the United States Capitol. The Capitol is to the north of the street, while the Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn House Office Buildings are to the south. Past the Capitol, Independence Avenue SE passes between the Library of CongressThomas Jefferson Building (north) and James Madison Memorial Building (south). The last major building along the avenue is the Library of Congress’ John Adams Building (north), where Independence Avenue SE has a junction with Pennsylvania Avenue SE.

The wide, ceremonial Independence Avenue SE narrows to become a traditional residential street east of 2nd Street SE. There is a major intersection with Massachusetts Avenue SE between 14th and 15th Street SE. After 19th Street SE, Independence Avenue SE passes to the south of the D.C. Armory. The roadway then curves south and northeast around Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, passing through the stadium’s parking lots.

At its eastern terminus, Independence Avenue SE becomes East Capitol Street as it reaches the Whitney Young Memorial Bridge over the Anacostia River.

Read more on Wikipedia Independence Avenue (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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