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, residences, and other structures associated with many of the great figures in the political, military, diplomatic, and economic history of the United States. It has distinguished architectural examples of all periods, many by the country’s leading architects. The park was originally included in the area planned by L’Enfant as the President’s Park, but was returned to public use by Thomas Jefferson.
Lafayette Square was named for Marquis de Lafayette in 1824 and landscaped by Andrew Jackson Downing between 1851 and 1852. In the center of the park is an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, sculpted by Clark Mills, while the periphery features elaborate memorials to other European heroes of the Revolutionary War (see American Revolution Statuary).
The historic district includes approximately thirty buildings, dating from about 1815 to 1940. Due to its location, the Square has hosted many prominent public demonstrations and has served as a site of national symbolic importance for centuries. For example, in response to George Floyd’s murder, Sixteenth Street leading up to the Square was renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in June 2020 where protest continues.
DC Inventory: June 19, 1973 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: August 29, 1970
National Historic Landmark: September 6, 1970