Lafayette Square is the formal public park opposite the White House, and with its surrounding frame of buildings constitutes the Lafayette Square Historic District. The Historic District includes government buildings, one-time residences, and numerous structures and objects associated with many of the great figures in the United States' political, military, diplomatic, and economic history. The historic district's buildings were designed in various architectural styles, many by the country’s leading architects. The landscaped square was originally included in the area planned by Pierre L’Enfant as the President’s Park, but was returned to public use by President Thomas Jefferson.
Lafayette Square was named for the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824 and was landscaped by the influential landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing between 1851 and 1852. In the center of the park is an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, sculpted by Clark Mills, which has a replica in New Orleans' Jackson Square. The square's periphery features elaborate monuments and memorials to other European heroes of the Revolutionary War (see American Revolution Statuary). Stretching north from Lafayette Square is 16th Street NW, one of Washington's — and the nation's — great avenues.
The historic district includes approximately 40 significant buildings and structures, dating from 1791 to 1970. This inventory includes the Treasury Department, Old Executive Office Building, Decatur House, Saint John's Church, Renwick Gallery, National Grange building, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and New Executive Office Building. Due to its location, the Square has hosted many prominent public demonstrations and has served as a site of national symbolic importance since the District's founding. For example, in response to George Floyd’s murder in 2020, 16th Street, just north of the square, was renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.
DC Inventory: June 19, 1973 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
DC Inventory: September 29, 2022 (Additional Documentation and Boundary Increase)
National Register: August 29, 1970
National Historic Landmark: September 6, 1970