The Washington Monument
"Pierre L'Enfant's original plan was to represent the man he so admired in the equestrian pose on the bank of the Potomac exactly at the spot where
a line drawn south from the president's house intersected a line drawn west from the Capitol."
"Already in August 1783, the Contental Congress resolved that an equestrian statue of General George Washington be erected at the place where the
residence of Congress shall be established." (Meyers p 153) So the form of the statue was Congress's idea first.
Theoretically L'Enfant's intention was for there to be an equestrian statue of GW located due south of the WH and due west of the CB (marked 'A'
on the planning map above), but by the time that the monument was built both the design and location had been radically altered. As you can see,
L'Enfant's plan was not for the statue to be on the 'bank of the Potomac', but that the area surrounding that be completely filled in.
Today it is situated 371 feet east of the N-S axis of the WH and 123 feet south of the E-W line through the CB. The official reason given for the
relocation of the monument is that the ground was not solid enough where L'E had planned it, but as we have seen, there never was any dry ground in
that location in 1848. That story is a hoax. They simply never did the work to fill the creek in before the monument was built.
The idea is that the current position is somehow a mistake or an adaptation to the original plan, and the Jefferson Pier and McMillan Plan were built
around 'restoring' the balance to the map. As you can see, the pier is two feet tall and most of the McMillan Plan's features were either 'predicted'
in the L'Enfant map, or were not actualy adopted.
A pyramid 100 feet square
"On May 18, 1800 the House of Representatives suggested the building of a pyramid 100 feet square at the base... because
a pyramid would best represent the idea of George Washington". These are Ovasons words (p 126 - 7). Speaking of the pyramidal form of one design
submitted later for the memorial by Peter Force, Ovason writes:
"Force's Design is spectacular and perhaps more noteworthy than any of the many other designs that followed- including the present memorial... the
finest design (a pyramid) and the one actually completed (an obelisk) were both distinctly Egyptian in character... His design- an enormous pyramid -
is distinctly Masonic in concept." Yet, as he points out, the pyramids in the map remain obscured.
The fact that the triangle (pyramid) formed by New Hampshire Ave has a base angle similar to that of the Great Pyramid invites us to compare the map
image with the pyramid cross-section; where we see that the Queen's Chamber is likewise offset from the King's Chamber. Also, just as the monument
is located south of the E-W line through the Capitol, there is a two foot step down in the passage way leading to the Queen's Chamber.
Potomac Ave mimics the Descending Passage while Penn Ave serves as the Ascending Passage and the Grand Gallery, including the Great Step at the top of
that. One branch of the canal (south of the CB) simulates the well and groto from the pyramid. You should note that the orientation of Potomac Avenue
was altered along with that of Mass Ave in the August L'Enfant map, so that this doesn't work with the June draft of the plan, that is, the early planning
map does not support the pyramid image.
At this point, it's pretty clear that we will never know who contributed what of a symbolic nature to the map plan, but at least we can narrow it down as
to when the ideas were included. In the June map we see the triangle/pyramid form generated by connecting two corners of the pentagram there. In the 1792
versions of the plan we can see the pyramid cross-section and most of the Tree of Life.
While the dotted line map contains changes made to the June map it does not indicate Washingon's monument in any way; as a matter of fact, the planned
location (in the June draft) is under water, as are those of the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. It makes a certain sense to say that since the changes
made to the plan between June and August made it possible to overlay the pyramid onto the map with a high degree of 'agreement', and given that the
new position of the Wash Mmt makes for a better representation of the position of the Queen's Chamber, it is only plausable that the move was planned
but never put to paper in August.
The Pyramid Image
My thesis is that the City Planners utilized the cross-section image of the Great Pyramid at Giza as
one of the templates for the layout of the city streets, and that the White House, Washington Monument
and the Capitol Building were positioned so as to represent elements in the Pyramid Image.
Looking at the image of the pyramid cross-section merged with the DC map, we can see that the "fit"
is less than perfect between Pennsylvania Avenue and the Ascending Passage, due to the fact that the
avenue has a crook or "dog leg" in it. You will recall that I attribute the bend in the avenue to the
relocation of the CB for topographic reasons.
Had the planners been able to place the CB just a little bit to the south, Pennsylvannia Avenue
would have been a straight line and served as a better representation of the Ascending Passage and the
Grand Gallery, and the CB would have been positioned closer to the junction of the Gallery and the
passage to the Queen's Chamber.
Let's take a look at the DC map with a straightened Pennsylvannia Avenue and compare it to the
First with a few streets, the canal, and a couple of orientation points emphasized.
Then with the pyramid image overlaid on it.
With the position of the Capitol moved, and Penn. Ave. straightened we see three of the main
passages in the Pyramid Image
accounted for almost perfectly; but what of the so-called "well" shaft?
The Shaft and Canal
See the image below and note the path of the canal marked in blue, a feature
that was removed following the War Between the States. Comparing with the preceeding image shows the
canal to be a less than perfect representation of the shaft.
Refering again to the topographic image we can ascertain the reason for the discrepency; the canal was
planned to conform with the lay of the land, which, once again, was the simplest method and required
the least amount of landscaping. Recall that the canal was dug to control the Tiber.
When you consider the broad open area located where the canal splits and compare to the "grotto",
located at ground level in the Pyramid Image, you will see that the one branch of the canal forms a
pretty good representation of the shaft.
The question that once confronted us was, if L'Enfant was not concerned with the WH and CB being
on one of the highest and most prominent spots on the hill, why did he place them where they did?
That is, why did he place the CB on the crest of the hill, rather than in a more prominent position?
And why was the WH not positioned on the obvious high place to the west?
If you have read my pages concerning
the Pyramid Image concealed
in the DC map layout, you will know that my answer to that question is that the concern for
depicting the pyramid cross-section image was as important as showcasing the buildings.