National Mall: Botanic Gardens Relocation – Washington DC


The New Deal carried out a major renovation of the National Mall, the green centerpiece of Washington DC.  Funding was provided by the Public Works Administration (PWA) and labor power by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). As of 1939, the PWA had expended $1,050,000  on redeveloping the Mall.

Work began in 1934 under the direction of the Superintendent of the National Capital Parks, which had become a branch of the National Park Service when the park system was taken over by the Interior Department under Harold Ickes in August 1933. 

One element of the reconstruction of the National Mall was to move and upgrade the United States Botanic Garden at its east end, near the Capitol.  The Botanic Garden, which had stood on the former sites of Union Square, was moved across Maryland Avenue into a modern structure and the old greenhouses were demolished. 

Meanwhile, several old trees were transplanted to the former Union Square site west of the reflecting pool, including the Rutherford B. Hayes memorial oak and the ‘Oak of Confucius,’ grown from an acorn taken from the philosopher’s grave.  


Source notes

C. W. Short and R. Stanley-Brown,  Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies Between the Years 1933 and 1939 with the Assistance of the Public Works Administration.  Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1939.

Newspaper clippings file, 1935-1942. Record Group 69, Records of the Work Projects Administration. National Archives and Records Administration.

“New Deal Projects Aid Many Park Developments in Capital,” Washington Daily News, July 23, 1936.

“600 Relief Workers To Get Park Places,” Washington Star, May 23, 1937.

“Work on Million Dollar Mall is Now 90 Percent Completed,” Washington Post, October 4, 1936, p. 15.

“1,000 From PWA Assigned To Work On Park System,” Washington Star, November 14, 1936.

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on December 19, 2019.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Maryland Ave.
Washington, DC 20001

Coordinates: 38.8883, -77.0129

Leave a Reply

Before leaving a comment, please note:

  • Comments allow viewers to share information with others or alert us to errors or changes in a New Deal site.
  • We are not involved in the management of New Deal sites and have no information about visits, hours or rentals.
  • This page shows all the information we have for this site; if you have new information or photos to share, click below.


We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.

Your email address will not be published.