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In Washington, D.C., a 1-mile stroll of revived Pennsylvania Avenue.

In Washington, D.C., a 1-mile stroll of revived Pennsylvania Avenue Walking the mile along Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol building used to be a trip to avoid. But thanks to some well-planned redevelopment, it now makes for a pleasant autumn stroll.

Pennsylvania Avenue was laid out in Pierre L'Enfant's 1791 city plan as "a large and direct avenue ... proportioned to the greatness which ... the Capital of a powerful Empire ought to manifest." Until a few years ago, however, the 160-foot-wide avenue didn't live up to the plan--classical government edifices contrasted with scruffy buildings and vacant lots.

Since 1972, a well-drawn long-range plan for the avenue has been administered by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation. According to Berkeley architect John Woodbridge, in charge of planning from 1973 to 1977, "In terms of renewal, it's been an unqualified success." Our walk takes you past restored and new hotels and shopping spaces, pocket parks, government buildings, the 1978 East Building of the National Gallery of Art, to the Capitol itself.

Spend as little as an hour, or take a day or longer to visit museums and to shop, dine, or attend the theater. The street is liveliest on weekdays, when nearby workers make up most of the pedestrians, but more and more people are coming at night and on weekends, too.

From the White House, head southeast

Treasury Building, 1500 Pennsylvania. Built between 1836 and 1869, this Greek revival structure sits on a site said to have been arbitrarily chosen by Andrew Jackson, destroying L'Enfant's intended sight line from the White House to the Capitol.

Hotel Washington, northeast corner of 15th Street; (202) 638-5900. Oldest continuously operating hotel in the city, the 1918 Renaissance-style building retains its original furnishings in the lobby. Its top-floor lounge and continental dining room offer fine views, especially at night.

Willard Hotel, 1401; 628-9100. Built in 1901, the Beaux-Arts hotel housed visiting dignitaries before declining along with the neighborhood; it's now restored and open for business.

Pershing Park, across from two hotels, is an inviting place with outdoor cafe; in winter its reflecting pool becomes a skating rink.

The Shops at National Place, 1331; 783-9090. In its lively arcade, you'll find 85 shops and restaurants run by Rouse Croporation--already known for Baltimore's Harborplace and Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

National Theatre, 1321. Period furnishings enhance the 1984 renovation of the theater, founded in 1835; it now specializes in Broadway shows. To join a free 1-1/2-hour tour on Mondays at 11, call 783-3370.

Western Plaza, between 14th and 13th streets. This plaza, shown above, was designed in 1980 by Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown. Greenery, seating, and a tranquil fountain make this a pleasant stop. However, "its brilliant design concept was eviscerated by each design review, and it doesn't work as well for people as Pershing Park," according to Woodbridge.

1201 pennsylvania. The granite facade of this huge (considering D.C.'s height limits) office block, built in 1981, blends well with surrounding buildings. Inside are skylit court and a two-story waterfall.

Post Office Department, between 13th and 12th. Designed by Delano and Aldrich, it was completed in 1934. Its circular front was to be matched across 12th, but the old pavilion (below) never got torn down.

The Pavilion at the Old Post Office, between 12th and 11th; 289-4224. Willoughby Eldbrooke's 1899 Romanesque revival building was restored in 1983 by Arthur Cotton Moore to house a skylit mall with about 50 shops and restaurants. A promising concept, but it's not as lively as hoped for. Its 315-foot clock tower, open 8 A.M. to 11 P.M. daily, gives views over the city.

The Evening Star Building, 11th and Pennsylania. Restoration of the 1898 building, due to start early next year, will include Office and retail space and underground parking. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill are project architects.

J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, Ninth and Pennsylvania; 324-3447. If J. Edgar could have designed his monument (and it's rumored he had a hand in the design), this concrete bunker would suit him perfectly. Even before redevelopment began, this site was committed to the FBI; at least the building hasn't the monolithic mass of the original plan. Weekday building tours (9 to 4:15) are popular.

Market Square development, between Ninth and Seventh streets, across from the National Archives, Construction of housing, restaurants, offices, and shops should begin this year. Designed by D.C. architects Hartman-Cox, they will face the planned Market Square Park with its Navy memorial.

Gallery Row, Seventh and D Streets. Facades saved from damaged 19-century buildings on the site front this project, designed by Hartman-Cox to include galleries and art stores. Within a few blocks are the National Portrait Gallery and Museum of American Art to the north, National Gallery of Art and Smithsonian museums to the south.

Temperance Fountain, Seventh and Pennsylvania (northeast corner). Presented in the 1880s by Dr. Henry Cogswell, a San Francisco dentist and temperance crusader, the four-pillared, crane-topped fountain is now dry. Plans to restore the fountain and plaza have been approved.

Sears House, 633. Mathew Brady had his photographic studio in part of this 1843 building, which was also a hotel, a drugstore, several banks, and finally a liquor store. Its twin turrets and cast-iron trim have all been restored, making it the avenue's best architectural landmark. Inside, in antique ambience, are Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s corporate offices. Ask the guard to show you the Brady prints.

Canadian Embassy, Sixth and Pennsylvania. Ground-breaking took place in March for the new building, designed by Arthur Erickson, renowned Canadian architect. The height of the C-shaped structure, to be completed in 1988, will match nearby buildings.

From here, it's only a short walk to the Capitol, National Archives, the east and west buildings of the National Gallery of Art, and other museums on the Mall. Washington Tourist Information Center, in the Department of Commerce Building at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., provides free maps and brochures; call 789-7000. It's open 9 to 5 daily through October, closed Sundays until April.

Two metro (subway) stops put you near the avenue: Federal Triangle at 12th Street, Archives at 7th.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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