George Washington’s Washington traces the history of the development, abandonment and eventual revival of George Washington’s original vision for a grand national capital on the Potomac.
Written by Adam Costanzo, the book was released this month by the University of Georgia Press as part of its Early American Places series.
In 1791, Washington’s ideas found form in architect Peter Charles L’Enfant’s plans for the city.
Yet the unprecedented scope of the plan; reliance on the sale of city lots to fund construction of the city and the public buildings; the actions of unscrupulous land speculators; and the convoluted mixture of state, local and federal authority in effect in the district all undermined Federalist hopes for creating a substantial national capital.
In an era when the federal government had relatively few responsibilities, the tangible intersections of ideology and policy were felt through the construction, development and oversight of the federal city.