The Green Legacy of 19th Century Washingtonians

May 13, 2019
On May 13, 2019, Chris Shaheen, Public Space Program Manager in the DC Office of Planning, presented an Overbeck Lecture exploring the distinctive streetscape of Washington, DC, from its origins in the L’Enfant Plan, through the city’s extensions, and up to the present.

In 1870, the United States Congress passed the “Parking Act” for Washington, DC. The Act specified that the street right-of-way adjacent to private property should be landscaped and maintained by the property owner.  In 1871 Congress passed the related “Projection Act,” which allowed building extensions such as bays and corner towers to extend onto the public “parking.” Based on these acts, the city developed regulations intended to protect the city’s green spaces and enhance its environment with park-like areas throughout the city.  Shaheen explored the development of the regulations and their profound impact on the green neighborhoods found throughout the city of Washington.  As a further resource, Shaheen cited the Public Realm Design Manual: A Summary of District of Columbia Regulations and Specifications for the Design of Public Space Elements, compiled by the DC Office of Planning.  (March 2019) The Manual is available on on-line.

Past Lectures