When they finally heard the bad news, the Smithsonian leaped into action filing a protest. But WMATA replied that no one had commented on the change, so it had been eliminated. The Smithsonian was joined by the National Park Service and Bicentennial of the American Revolution Commission in arguing that no one had been notified of a change to comment on. The three organizations pointed out that studies predicted some 15 million visitors per year to the Smithsonian’s museums on the Mall and the crucial role mass transit would play in moving tourists safely to and from their museum visits. The Park Service wished to reduce or eliminate automobile traffic on the Mall, so Metro access was necessary. They also wished to add a station at Arlington Cemetery. A strong coalition formed, and WMATA relented but said that the organizations would have to secure the funding for the station – a daunting task.
The station formally opened on July 4, 1977. Metro General Manager Theodore Lutz presented Smithsonian Assistant Secretary Charles Blitzer with a "farecard" for inclusion in the National Museum of History and Technology (now National Museum of American History) transportation collection. The station’s opening coincided with the completion of 11.8 miles of rail between National Airport and the Stadium/Armory Station and the opening of the Arlington Cemetery, Capitol South, and other stations along the “Blue” line. Although the Smithsonian had noted that “timing is of the essence, if this station is to be opened in time to receive the onrush of visitors expected for the Bicentennial,” it was not completed in time for the celebration in 1976. However, it has served the Smithsonian and its many visitors well in the forty years since it opened, during national marches, presidential inaugurations, and the Smithsonian Birthday Party on the Mall in 1996.
Hearings on the Smithsonian Metro station, 1972
Legislation funding Smithsonian Metro entrance, 1977
Smithsonian Birthday Party on the National Mall, 1996, Smithsonian Institution Archives
Roderick Terry images of the 1995 Million Man March on the National Mall, 1995, National Museum of African American History and Culture
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