Entries in National Mall (3)


National Mall to Get $700 Million Makeover with Help of Laura Bush

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The expansive, green backbone of America’s capital city is about to get a major facelift.

Stretching from the U.S. Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall is currently a giant swath of grass with limited event space, no restaurants, few restrooms and minimal seating space.

But after decades of neglect, the Trust for the National Mall announced Thursday the three design contest winners tasked with turning “America’s backyard” into, as former first lady Laura Bush said, a “beautiful gathering place” and “vibrant legacy for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.”

“After so many decades, we need to do more than sprinkle some seed or put down some new sod,” Bush said Thursday at the National Mall Benefit Luncheon. “Our capital and our country are worth us maintaining this beautiful gathering place and making it a place that will educate and unite Americans through the 21st century and beyond.”

The multi-million-dollar makeover is broken up into three areas: Union Square, which includes the reflecting pool immediately in front of the Capitol building; Constitution Gardens, the little-visited park space and pond just north of the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool; and Sylvan Theater, the grassy knoll surrounding the Washington Monument.

What is now just grass, trees and lampposts nestled around America’s most iconic monuments is slated to soon include an amphitheater, terraced seating areas, gardens, restaurants, an ice skating rink and some serious lighting upgrades. In some areas, the entire topography of the landscape will be re-engineered to decrease traffic noise and increase sustainability and efficiency.

But don’t postpone your Washington vacation just yet to see these improvements in action. The first groundbreaking is not set to begin until 2014 and the earliest ribbon-cutting ceremony is still four years away.

While the Trust for the National Mall’s luncheons have raised about $7 million over the past five years, the group is still hundreds of millions of dollars away from raising the amount necessary for the planned projects.

Half of the $700 million project, which includes renovations to nearly every part of the 700-acre mall, will be funded by taxpayers while the remaining $350 million will come from private donations.

That’s where the former first lady comes in. As the honorary chairwoman of the Trust for the National Mall, Bush is tasked with overseeing private-sector fundraising for the renovations, which she dubbed “thoughtful” and “innovative.”

At Thursday’s benefit luncheon, where 1,200 donors spent $500 per plate to support the project and hear the first lady’s speech, Bush said some of her “fondest memories” of living in Washington, D.C., involved the “grand avenue” of the National Mall.

“One of our favorite things to do when we had friends from Texas visit was to take a picnic out on the lawn,” Bush said from beneath a royal-wedding-style silver hat inside a lavishly decorated tent temporarily constructed near the Washington Monument for the garden-party-style event.

Bush said as first lady she would sometimes sneak out of the White House in a baseball cap and sunglasses to walk along the mall’s gravel paths and try to blend in with the tourists and joggers.

“In over 200 years, the National Mall has become a unique national treasure...where history is remembered and where history is made,” Bush said, “and over the last few decades, it has become a place where history is preserved.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


DC Shooting Suspect Could Be Threat to Obama, Police Say

Glowimages/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – Authorities are increasingly concerned that a man sought in connection with a shooting incident near the White House last week could pose a threat to President Obama, ABC News has learned.

The Secret Service now suspects that bullets fired in this incident may have hit the White House after one round was found Tuesday in a window and another in the building's exterior. The rounds have not yet been conclusively linked to the incident.

Police believe that the suspect, Oscar Ramiro Ortega, of Idaho, is mentally ill. Ortega has an extensive record, ranging from domestic violence to drug charges. Sources say a police investigation has uncovered evidence suggesting that Ortega has a fixation on the White House.

At 9:30 p.m. Friday, police received reports of shots fired in the bustling area of 16th Street and Constitution Avenue.

Authorities would later find a car in the area. The suspect had fled, but what police discovered inside the vehicle left them deeply concerned: an assault-style rifle and empty shell casings.

Police linked the car to Ortega and have been hunting him ever since.

It’s unclear whether Ortega is capable of launching a sophisticated attack, but police are still fearful of what he might do next.

Authorities suspect Ortega has been in the area for weeks, coming back and forth to the Washington Mall.  Before the shooting, he was detained by local police at an abandoned house. U.S. Park Police say Ortega may have spent time blending in with Occupy D.C. protesters.

President Obama, who is currently on a visit to Australia, was not present at the White House at the time of the incident, and has been out of town for the past week. Secret Service officials are not taking any chances with the security of the president and the White House, though, and want Ortega off the street.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Labor, Civil Rights Groups Rally on National Mall

Photo Courtesy - ABC NewsUPDATE: Glenn Beck's "Restore Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial in August was described by many as a religious revival. Saturday’s "One Nation" gathering - also at the Lincoln Memorial - organized by hundreds of groups ranging from labor unions, civil rights organizations, gay rights and environmental organizations had the feel of a political rally.

Speakers at the gathering repeatedly referenced the Nov. 2 midterm elections and the importance of voting.

"Conservatives don't believe in your freedom," liberal commentator Ed Schultz told the crowd. "For the last two years, the president has had to put up with the word 'no.'"

At "Restore Honor," Glenn Beck and featured speaker Sarah Palin tried to avoid political references.

"I hope people look at the Mall because this is what America looks like," Rev. Al Sharpton said Saturday in a swipe at the diversity of those who attended Beck's rally.

Schultz said he was told the crowd at Saturday’s rally was larger than Beck's. The U.S. Park Police did not release an official estimate.


(WASHINGTON) -- Thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Saturday, for the “One Nation Working Together” rally organized by labor and civil rights groups.

“We will get universal health care someday in this country. We will create jobs. We will get the money to the small businesses,” said radio host Ed Schultz, who addressed the crowd.

“This march is about the power to the people,” Schultz said. “It is about the people standing up to the corporations. Are you ready to fight back?”

In August, thousands rallied on the National Mall in a gathering led by conservative political commentator Glenn Beck. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio