Pierre Charles L’Enfant was a French born American architect who designed the layout of Washington DC in the country’s early years. But, the article says, his “great work was hampered and thwarted for a century by the lack of appreciation for beauty in the Government.”
Ugly buildings, slums, and “even houses of ill-fame” lined the mall. In 1911, plans were approved to build some new government buildings in keeping with L’Enfant’s original vision.
Today, work is still being done to improve the mall and surrounding parks. You can see a list of ongoing projects under supervision of the National Parks Service.
MAKING WASHINGTON ONE OF WORLD’S BEAUTIFUL CAPITALS: L’Enfant’s Dream to Come True After a Century — With the Approval of the Plans for Three New Department Buildings, the Ten-Year-Old Plan for a Splendid Home for the Government Is Launched (PDF)
From July 2, 1911