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Pennsylvania Avenue - Market Square in 1911
Looking south-east along "America's Main Street" toward the United States Capitol Building in 1911. The avenue envisioned by the founding fathers as an American "Champs-Elysées" was a long time in coming. In the early days of a fledgling nation, it was a muddy stretch of dirt and dust, constantly under construction and repair. Begun in 1792 on the plan of Pierre L'Enfant as a "Grand Avenue" connecting both the "President's Palace" and the "Federal House," Pennsylvania Avenue underwent many changes of design and purpose before it became the thoroughfare that we know today. The road was not paved until 1871 (in wood blocks), which soon needed replacing as it turned to splinters under the traffic's wear and tear. It was finally paved in asphalt beginning in 1907. Traction-type streetcars ran the length of the avenue, and shoppers frequented the outdoor markets of Market Square. It was finally becoming the tree-lined promenade envisioned by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson...worthy of the beauty of the U.S. Capitol building and the White House, which it connects. Pennsylvania Avenue is today the scene of many processions and parades, and is known as the "Pathway of Presidents". This print is from the original watercolor painted by Paul McGehee for President Ronald Reagan in 1982, presented to him honor of his 71st birthday.