The Mall Parkway - Hearing Before the Committee on the District of Columbia of the United States Senate, Saturday, March 12, 1904, on the Bill (S.4845) Regulating the Erection of Buildings on the Mall, In the District of Columbia

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  • This is a verbatim transcript of a U. S. Senate committee hearing conducted on Saturday, March 12, 1904, concerning proposed Bill S. 4845, to regulate the erection of buildings on the National Mall in Washington, DC, by not allowing buildings within 400 feet of a central line stretching from the center of the Dome of the Capitol to the center of the Washington Monument. The siting of a new Agriculture Department building and implementation of the Park Commission of the District of Columbia's proposal for an 800-foot wide Mall Parkway were central in discussions concerning various issues raised by the bill. The Secretary of Agriculture and members of the U. S. House of Representatives Agricultural Committee had met the previous month with President Roosevelt, who voiced his support of a 600-foot width in order to accommodate the new Agriculture building and the existing Smithsonian building.
  • Nine senators were present at the hearing; of the 18 other individuals in attendance, 13 testified, including Smithsonian Secretary Samuel P. Langley. The bill under consideration was of great consequence to the Smithsonian, because if passed as written the Smithsonian building would be completely within the southern side of the 400-foot limit and therefore subject to destruction. Langley stated that $3.5 million had been appropriated for a new museum building to be located north of the 800-foot line, but admitted the situation was entirely different for the present structure.
  • Asked by a senator if it would be possible to move the Smithsonian building, Secretary Langley replied that it would be a question for an engineer to answer but his own impression was that the building was in very fair condition and could be moved. In response to other queries, Langley stated that he viewed the Smithsonian as a finished structure which should not be added to, and that he saw nothing at the time to demand additional new museum buildings. However, he did acknowledge that the museum was steadily growing and more buildings would be needed at some point in the future. The hearings were a response to the McMillan Commission report and plan of 1901, prepared by Senator James McMillan as chair of the U.S. Congress Park Improvement Commission of the District of Columbia.


  • Roosevelt, Theodore 1858-1919
  • Langley, S. P (Samuel Pierpont) 1834-1906
  • Park Improvement Commission of the District of Columbia
  • United States Congress
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Six plates, 4 photographs, 3 illustrations and an Index accompany the transcript.

Contained within

(U. S. Senate Hearing Transcript)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


Saturday, March 12, 1904


  • Museum buildings
  • United States Dept. of Agriculture Building
  • Secretaries
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Ecology
  • City planning
  • Planning
  • Parks
  • Land use--Planning


  • Mall, The (Washington, D.C.)
  • Washington (D.C.)

Physical description

53 pgs

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