Chapter

The Changing Meaning of the National Mall

Jeffrey F. Meyer

in Myths in Stone

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780520214811
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921344 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520214811.003.0009
The Changing Meaning of the National Mall

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The National Mall may look approximately the same in the early twenty-first century as it did in 1960, but the shift of meaning in both has been profound. The beginning of the twentieth century brought plans for a major change to the character of the Mall. The redesigned Mall, expressive of the spatial mastery of an imperial government, would gradually become the physical expression of a new nationalism. It would become the spatial-architectural equivalent of a world-dominant Anglo-Saxon culture, the North American division. The proposed Enola Gay exhibit raised many valid historical issues. This exhibit was easily the most controversial museum exhibit in American history. The Enola Gay debate stirred passions because it challenged American self-understanding as the instrument of divine Providence, its role as the white knight whose mission was to bring democracy and freedom to the world.

Keywords: National Mall; imperial government; nationalism; Enola Gay; American history; Anglo-Saxon culture

Chapter.  9945 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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