Laura Bush photo

Remarks by the First Lady at the Reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue in Front of the White House to Pedestrians

November 09, 2004

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Mary. Thank you for your leadership. And congratulations on a marvelous Pennsylvania Avenue. And especially thanks to the Federal Highway Administration for their great work. Thanks to Mayor Williams for your constant support for the reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue, and to Chairman Cogbill for your vision, and to our architect, Michael Valkenburgh for your marvelous design. Thank you very much.

Of course, a special thanks to Dick Friedman and everyone at the National Capital Planning Commission, the National Park Service, the United States Secret Service for the long hours you've put into the design and reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue. And I especially appreciate John Carl Warnecke, thank you so much for even bringing this idea to my attention and thank you for the work you've already done for Lafayette Park. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Today, after many months of anticipation, we celebrate the opening of the newly designed Pennsylvania Avenue. And I know this process hasn't been easy. After all, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, if you don't have 40 years to spare, don't get involved in urban renewal. (Laughter.)

But in just a few months, you've transformed Pennsylvania Avenue into this very inviting urban landscape. And I've watched from those windows for the last year as this has happened. It's been a really wonderful process to watch, and it's so thrilling to have the fences down now and have it back open again.

This thoroughfare has always been a connector, connecting the White House and the Capitol and the three branches of government. And a new Pennsylvania Avenue will again connect visitors with this glorious city, with the people's house and with American heritage.

President Bush and I look forward to continuing the great tradition established by President Jefferson of walking along this avenue on Inauguration Day. School children can explore the avenue and see where carriages once waited for President Jackson under the North Portico. Visitors can meet here and travel to the many monuments, theaters and restaurants that are right here around the White House. And benches along the open walkways will make welcome spots for residents to enjoy the historic scenery of Washington, D.C.

I'm proud that this stretch of the Avenue of the People has been designed for the people. In addition to the benches and the pedestrian walkways, rows of mature American elms will be planted this spring. The American elm will provide a spectacular promenade and welcome shade for pedestrians. These elms will replace native elm trees that once lined the south side of the avenue.

President John Quincy Adams was very fond of the American elm, and a tree that he planted in 1826 graced the southeast lawn of the White House until 1990. A year later, Barbara Bush planted a tree propagated from the Adams elm on the White House grounds. And I'm really happy to continue the tradition by planting elms here along the avenue. (Applause.)

More than 200 years ago, Pierre L'Enfant looked upon a stretch of land and imagined a city worthy of great ideals and great leaders. Pennsylvania Avenue would be his grand avenue and he hoped to line it with institutions that would be, and I quote, "attractive to the learned and afford diversion to the idle."

Thanks to all of you, we take another step in fulfilling his vision. Congratulations on this great milestone. And thanks for your great work.

And now it's my honor to introduce a mayor who not only makes our capital city a great place to visit, but he also makes it a wonderful place to call home. Mayor Anthony Williams. (Applause.)

Laura Bush, Remarks by the First Lady at the Reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue in Front of the White House to Pedestrians Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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