tv Aerial View Paintings of Historic Washington DC CSPAN January 19, 2019 9:15pm-10:01pm EST
>> we invite you to sit down and learn a little bit more about the city will be living. peter waddell who created these paintings. he is best known for his paintings of washington see an architecture. he often creates images of history where no images exist and is the first artist to re-create the plan for the federal city. is captured history for the white house historical association. in 2010, his contributions to the arts in washington were recognized with he received the measures are toward. please join me -- part -- art award. >> thank you. >> first of all, i would just like to thank george washington university museum for this.
-- and alva small who generously comissioned these. these works would not have been possible without their encouragement and support. i loved washington from the first. bit chaoticwas a when i arrived here, its beauty, originality, and. excitement were immediately obvious. . i was determined to make it my home and history has been the core of my work. under that history is the plan of the city and the great division of george washington. it is one of three great works getting rid of the british, one of the first creating the founding documents. extraordinary. underneath the history of the city is the plan, designed by
who was in the revolutionary war with the washington. he was an architect, a designer, and an artist. in is aes that we live result of the vision of george lafond.on and peter i decided to do to paintings. paintings. i decided to re-create his plan and then to see with the city looked like. this work is called the indispensable plan about this one called the village monumental. underneath both of the paintings is the plan of the city, and that was my basic -- basic document in re-creating the vision. this whole thing started with
the residency act which put the site of the federal city on the banks of the potomac. george washington shows the sites himself. it's a little bit more understandable as far as the plan, this one is obviously very dark. curatorwho is now the here at that stage was my research assistant. these paintings are a collaborative effort. historiansed on many , particularly can bowling, who i am honored to have here today. hawkins who i worked closely with. another of my helpers is jessica smith from the historical society. and now the plan of washington gave me much information to see when i was thinking about what good luck on -- what did lafond think it would look like.
he wrote copious notes so that anybody building the city would know what to do. there was a key, colored areas and these numbers. they tell you where george washington is going to go. is going to be a huge equestrian statue. where various monuments would be, the national church, it is a mine of information. we went to the library of congress and went to the original plan. to havextremely moving the peace of paper that the designer worked on. you could see the tiny pinprick holes where he had his dividers, calculate what he was doing. i will show you how the painting was made that we talked about
the essence of the plan. the hard part of creating a birds eye view, i learned what i learned from the collection. first large-scale plan. the first is to lay out a plan and perspective, and you can see the curtains around the painting. i like the sense of it drawing back the curtain on history. it is one of the font used himself. one that lafond used himself. the basic element of the plan is this cross. this is where the white house is and where congress is at the far end. you can see the blue line, where
constitution-- avenue was. plan is a grid, but it is also composed of radiation lines .oming out from the white house they are like arrays of light. filling the plan of washington is about light. one of the special things about living with it is the low buildings and the light. buildings to see the come up, and the background goes in.
when you see the paintings upstairs, their the capital is it. monuments he planned, he planned that each of the squares and circles in the city belong to a particular state. each state would put out a monument, even so, a list of monuments that would not be good. columns over this, sculptures, and so on. you will see them as we go along . the white house is starting to come in. only does the city have to be in perspective, but the river has to be in perspective and the cloud shadows have to be in perspective as well. you have got to be looking down on it at the same plant -- time
you're looking across. it is a competition business, but it is one thing artists dated that photographers never managed to pull off. on we go here you can see the wharf. appearing, there it will be aapital city of canals and you can see how it comes right through. the canal had was practical, it was about shipping materials and moving things and people, but also have a ceremonial function. lafond had experience designing ceremonial events. the white line strong over the top of the painting can let the paintings and process took two years.
a lot of changes had to go along. we could not see where the engine of the city walls, that was part of what is called boundary road. just going to keep blasting along here. we've got a look at a few things closed up. this is an enormously magnified. , thee the actual painting white house is about this big. he suggested that houses of diplomats and other areas but that is what they say on the plan. writing, he suggests there would be places of entertainment. view changed as he went along, and he wrote a lot.
and if the answer to the question is in the original plan, that is what i used. if it was not the original plan, then i looked to his writing. from lawwriting came font himself. there,nt question statue it really was a city. we had foresight, we knew it was going to grow. everyone mocks them, and anyone who has read any history came to washington thought that they were clever than george washington. but they were looking into the future, they were men of vision. they can see the canal going through at the foot of the capital. he wanted a grand cascade them and you can see two arches which appear on the plan as to squares
he planned to put in fountains, there were five enormous fountain spared -- fountains. part of that was to provide water, but he was very interested in health. he had lived in paris, he knew what conditions in paris were like. can told me that-- i was told that paris copied washington, not the other way around. there are building plans on the original plan which we have worked on at great length. they have been scanned, they have been copied in the 19th century. but for both the white house and the capital, there was a fairly clear plan of what was intended. there was going to be an enormous rotunda on the front of the building.
they wanted rose of arches with shops underneath them. now, this is the head. where we are now, george washington envisioned a national university. so the people graduating from it would not be loyal just to the state, but to the whole country. that came about as columbia , and the original plan is that it would be over about where the university is today, although it was first brought up by boundary ward -- road. there were, notifications, not much has been written to the notifications. underwrites.rket also on the original
instructions. became thehat national cathedral, the church, some called it the pantheon. building. plan of the it seems likely that it is based the plan of the white house is very baroque. it was to be five times the size of the white house that was built. it was called the presidential palace, it did not fly with the feelings of the time. but there have been many efforts since to enlarge the white house from something closer to this.
none have been successful so far. the navy yard was going to be where fort mcnair is. that's clear from the original plan, so i put it there. the fountain, and there's another church over there. the church -- there are going to be churches all over. he obviously envisioned there would be more churches but i think he gives room for five. there were dozens. and then further up there on the right you can see two on the plan, on his plan he says canal twice, quite close together with the one was going to be a fish market and the other some sort of market he doesn't say. now, what actually happened by 1825? well, the title of this painting, the village monumental, suggests washington had developed but it was really a collection of villages at this stage. it had built outwards from
pennsylvania avenue, moving upwards through the city. it had also moved down here on green leaf point by the navy yard over on the far right of the image and then what we would call west end, about where we are now, had kind of become another village, as well. the mall you can see beneath the creek, which at this stage had been partially canalized, and you can see the white house and the capitol there. i just want to mention one thing. normally, bird's eye views are set out on a flat plain. if you look at some of mr. small's historical bird's eye views upstairs you'll see they're all on a billiard table essentially, but one of the things about washington is that it's quite hilly. people say, and i heard someone and he got grumpy with me when i contradicted him, that washington was built on a swamp. but anyone who has ridden a bicycle around washington knows that it would be very difficult to be a swamp, because it is quite steep.
even streets that don't seem -- and they've been flattened a lot -- even streets that don't seem to have much incline, once you're paddling up them. now, obviously it is a tidal river, so places down by the river, water rose, and the water went down. and pennsylvania avenue, itself, the lowest point was only 36 inches above the height of the river so that got squishy at times. but there was no standing water in the district of columbia at the time that it was started. and george washington was a surveyor, a brilliant man. he chose the site himself. and it was going to carry his name. the idea that he would have chosen a swamp is just -- i don't know why people say that. but anyway, in order to show the three dimensional nature of the
ground, i used one of the topographical maps and made a model of the topography of the city. it is actually in the exhibit. then i -- you can see it coming along there. then i painted it. i tried putting the topography in and putting the plan over it but you can't do it. you can see the white house coming in there. the figures in the foreground. so here we are. washington in 1825. by this stage it was already a draw to tourists. and here we have a group in the fashions of 1825, which were spectacular. and there is a dress upstairs kindly loaned by the d.a.r., who have a fabulous costume collection, and willing to share it. the little boy is holding a guide book. there were guide books printed to washington. that one is special.
it was loaned to the exhibit by tudor place, and it's inscribed to lafayette, who was here in the city in 1825. .nd it is up there you can have a look at it. in the background there, you can see two things that are sort of interesting. what is left of roosevelt island and mason's island, which had a house or plantation on it. above the lady's head you can see what was marked as glass house. it was called glass house. to begin with i drew a glass house like you grow tomatoes in, which was strange, but it turns out glass house means a factory manufacturing glass. here we are in the central part of the town. on the right-hand side there you can see what was center market as well as an old burial grounds. lafayette didn't want any food markets in the middle of the city because they were filthy and rat infested and so on but
, but that didn't work out. and between the two back buildings of the market you can see a little fire station there. fire stations were a big thing because fires were a problem. you could, in the city, he wanted everything to be built of stone or brick. now that didn't work out. about half the houses were built of wood. but the wooden houses were only allowed to be much smaller than the brick houses. so he wanted it to be row houses. every house had to be square with the street. and a lot of that sort of harmonious thinking survives to today. i'm always amazed when i move around washington how closely the city is to his vision. here's the white house. that's the glass house down there. at this stage the white house was still recovering from the war of 1812 and the burning of
1814. there is a wall around it put in by jefferson. and you can see a gate over on the right-hand side with a tiny carriage. i challenge you when you're looking at the painting to find the carriage. it's the size of a grain of rice. pennsylvania avenue did not go through to begin with. at this stage they had cut it through above the white house. you can see lafayette square, which is finally getting tidied up and then to the left of lafayette square you can see blair house. and above it, decatur house. at this stage, 1825, the south portico had just gone in. the north portico had not been finished. and john quincy adams had become the president, but his great gardening efforts had not really gotten under way. but down in the foreground you can see the boons' cottage.
great, he used to swim in the river all the time, john quincy adams. and there is a good diary entry where he says he went down to the willows. the mansion is just above the cottage there, and you can see the octagon up there. and got his boat and with his son, john jr., and his servant antoine, they were going to row across the river and antoine was going to row back. the adamses were going to swim. they must have been good swimmers because the river was much wider in those days. and i would think twice before striking out. and i a good swimmer. am i would think twice before striking out to national airport. [laughter] anyway, this is another painting by me for another job. this was for the white house historical association.
here we have john quincy adams, his servant, and son sitting out on that fateful journey. you can see the wall there. it's called aha ha wall, an english tradition, from the white house you were unaware there was a giant wall around the place. but from the outside, people are standing on top of the wall if you look closely, and the boat sank. they thought he had drowned. he had to remove all his clothes. he lost his silk hat. and they wound up naked sitting on the shore in virginia while the servant went looking for some clothes and came back to town to get a carriage. the birds in the tree in the foreground are carolina parakeets, unfortunately now extinct because they were so tame and sweet. and you can see the jefferson gate over there on the right. decatur house. oh, yes.
lafayette square had sort of a motley start. it was used as a builder's yard to begin with. and here in another early, earlier painting by me, here we have the white house under construction, but in the top right there you can see what became lafayette square. there are brick kilns, a large builder's shed, which became the first masonic lodge in d.c. and then on the far side, you may not be able to see them where you are, but there is a row of small houses which were going to be workmen's cottages , but which were turned into -- what is a good word? brothels. we'll use that. [laughter] mr. waddell: so a long tradition of hankie pankie in the vicinity of the white house. [laughter] mr. waddell: and here it is in 1902, laid out as sort of a romantic -- the square finally
more or less complete. what is happening here? pennsylvania avenue, things built up from there. and there it's running between the two. it was pretty rough but set out very wide. once again, l'enfant's sense of grandeur and the future. you can see the creek coming around. it ran down about where north capitol street is. it had some very deep pools. there were swimming holes in it. people swam. it was 500 feet wide in front of the white house. it was not nothing. and at the bottom of capitol hill there, it was 20 feet down from the road because there is an account of a guy driving a coach and horses off the road into the creek. the horses drowned. so it obviously had water in it. but the people got away alive. and there's center market and pennsylvania avenue and the
unitarian church is the large church up there above the market. the capitol, at this stage, the west side of the capitol had been completed and the stone for the east side, you can see it lying around, there, that's just about done as well. obviously giant extensions later in the century. behind the west front of the capitol was the library of congress. that is another painting. a library for the whole nation this was called. so that was originally behind the west side, the west portico of the capitol. i was searching for a fire to put in the painting but the only fire i could find in the newspaper was the fire in the library of congress and it wasn't until december and this was june so i was out of luck with that.
this is the -- at this stage the view of the capitol that we saw, this is the rotunda, replaced later. that is his design of the rotunda. and this sculpture of george washington, which was sitting in the rotunda, now sadly hidden at american history, but a truly wonderful sculpture and portrait, but people were appalled by the fact that he was naked. the mall at this stage was pretty rough. if you get close to this you can see some tiny cows. people grew wheat. wood lots. would lot there were trash heaps. you can see the canal was about to change direction. i think i might have a close -- sorry about this. i was warned. the canal ran up the side of
pennsylvania avenue but it gave trouble. it was too close to pennsylvania avenue. so the government decided to get some more land out, so it cut the canal running across from there straight up. you see photos taken during the civil war. that's the situation of the canal. and then they gave the piece of land that resulted between there and pennsylvania avenue to the district, who promptly sold it, but then it came back again in 1902 with the mcmillan commission when they got rid of the railroad station and a lot of stuff off the mall that had intruded into the mall. including that little piece of land. down at the bottom there you can see the bluffs that ran along the side of the river and on the right you can see green leaf point running down. and on the far right here, the navy yard. the day of this painting is the
day that they launched the ship that took lafayette back to france. it was called the brandywine. jackie found a wonderful first person account by a slave who worked at the navy yard called michael shiner. and he talks about that day. it's he that said quincy adams was on the ship as it went down the slip way. and there were 2,000 people watching. above that you can see the marine barracks, the house and the marine barracks are the oldest continuously used building in the district, i understand. the marine barracks is remarkably -- the whole area -- there are a lot of things still intact around there including the entrance into the navy yard , which is just a beautiful thing. anyway, someone asked me if -- what l'enfant would think if he
came back today. what would he recognize of the city? and i feel that he would recognize much of the city. he would know where he was. and it amazes me how much of what he planned actually got built. and if you go up like massachusetts avenue around dupont circle, he said that the city would spread around the circles and it did. they weren't kind of owned by one state, but grand houses were built around them and the grand houses spread along the grand avenues and the less grand houses behind the grand avenues. then someone asked me what he would not recognize and i think perhaps what he would not recognize is the change to the coast line. so how the mall got extended,
the tide got filled in. the washington monument got built. and if you are at the washington monument, there is a stone there and it says this is where the tiber came up to. theit is a long way from river. everything where the glass house was, that is all changed and unrecognizable. but much of the city remains the same and i think the feel of the city remains the same and credit belongs to the citizens of washington for holding on to that and for making a big noise when dramatic changes are planned that are not going to be advantageous, and perhaps most recently the effort to get rid of the height restriction where the citizens rose up to counter that despite it being an immensely profitable enterprise, well-funded to get that. it never happened. but it will come back again and again and i hope future
generations fight as hard as the people here today. you can tell i love the city. now, in the lower right corner, i painted l'enfant, himself, just before his death. his name is clearly on the original plan. peter l'enfant, not pierre, peter. but thereafter his name never appears on anything. he wasn't paid. he spent his time trying to get paid. he was a difficult man. but he ended up a pauper. and without credit. and he's come back in my painting to look at the city. and the tree he is leaning on, there is a great quote that jackie found about the growth of likeity being like twigs, sprouts coming from an old trunk. and the tree that he's leaning on is sprouting anew and i think that will always be the case with washington. it will always sprout anew and
it will always be a wonderful city. thank you so much. [applause] >> so we have about 15 minutes for questions. please raise your hand and wait for a mic to get to you so we can make sure to record all of your great questions. mr. waddell: and after that i'm going to go upstairs if anyone wants to look at the painting so i can answer questions and hang about. yes? >> when i think of his plan, i think of that map that he showed at first. that, is there more sor is it that l'enfant'
plan is that map? mr. waddell: l'enfant's plan is that map but he wrote what were called memorials and we have the expert on l'enfant memorials here today, pam scott. he wrote long letters, and much of the drawings that she lost a trunk full of his stuff. so some people say he never had plans for other buildings that were going to be in the city, but i believe he did have plans. he was a prodigious creator. so there are -- there is more. and he did write. yes, there are other -- and then at the ellicott plans, the later plans have plans of buildings which i believe are connected with l'enfant. how directly, it's hard to say. anybody else?
>> i had the pleasure of watching this process unfold and i was wondering if you could comment on how long this took you and a comparison between the two paintings. which was more difficult? the one of what wasn't built or the one of what was built? were there particular challenges for each? mr. waddell: well, it took two years. and i had been thinking about it for a long time before that. the idea of recreating l'enfant's plan had been in my head for years before that. and i had been talking to people about it and people had been encouraging me. small for actually turning it into reality. i thought the painting of the unbuilt city would be much more difficult, but, strangely, because there was much less
information -- there was a lot of information about 1825, most of it unknown, but people wrote a lot. they wrote a lot of description. early issues of the historical society journal have people who actually remembered or knew people who remembered 1825 and newspaper reporting was very detailed. long paragraphs of description. so these are the first paintings i've ever done that are fully annotated. jackie kept track of every piece of research information, and upstairs you'll see a tablet next to each of the paintings in which you can click on things in the paintings and find out what they are, so it's like a book. many, many, many of the buildings in the 1825 painting are actual buildings in their actual situation.
jessica went through the census for that time and connected people's occupations with addresses, which was a huge and complicated job and for which i am ever grateful. so we know where brickyards , and soap makers were, and a whole lot of other people in the city. so the paintings are a mine of information. i'm not usually -- anyone who's been to my studio will see stacks of paper in loose heaps. keeping track of that kind of information is not my forte. so it was only possible through working with the museum and mr. small's staff that i managed to keep it in line and hopefully it will be -- it is not the last word. i've made mistakes. there is no doubt. i don't know what they are yet , but i will be told. [laughter] mr. waddell: but it's a beginning and it can be built on.
and i hope that it brings to mind -- because the period between the burning and the civil war is like nothing, you know, like nothing happened. and lots happened. and it's great. i've got so much material. i could do 10 more paintings. when i first started thinking about this, in my mind's eye i could look in the windows of the houses so i could tell stories about the naughty -- the firemen in washington were originally -- if you joined the fire brigade you could get out of being in the militia, so the firemen were all gentlemen who just didn't want to go into the militia. but then they dropped that law so you didn't have to go in the militia. so gentlemen stopped going into the fire brigade. and the fire brigades were taken over by naughty boys. and i have many great stories about the fire brigades in washington. and one of the things that -- i will shut up in a second -- one of the things i discovered and love about washington is what
happened at the very beginning keeps happening. there were street crews here right from the start. there were block gangs. there were the georgetown gangs. there were the d.c. gangs. and they were at each other's throats. i mean, it's just -- i don't know what it is but if it starts here, it goes on here. and so often things happen. i think oh, that's just like 1825. [laughter] ken?addell: comment on your brushes? mr. waddell: my brushes. i was actually thinking of bringing a brush today. the paintings start with fairly large brushes but rapidly devolved until i was using brushes which are five zero. zero is a very small brush. a zero is a miniscule brush five, which a friend describes as being made from the eye lashes of unborn mice. [laughter] mr. waddell: and so i could
spend hours and hours painting but at the end of it i would have worked over an area this big. jackie used to come in on friday afternoons and we'd do research and other things and i'd say, well, i've worked all day and here is the result and it's like the shadow on an outhouse on a tiny house. so that was madness. i always vowed i'd never be the kind of artist who used tiny brushes. i was an expressionist when i started. that seems like a bit -- oh, yes? >> do you have plans to write up or does somebody else to write up this information and key it in to, you know, standard maps? mr. waddell: well, there is, i think, going to be a scholarly article written about the paintings. and it won't be long enough to contain all the information that
we've got. it would be very nice to have a book one day because the stories are so good. and some of these birds eye views -- there is one upstairs -- there are close-ups of sort of highlights of the city around it. that's not actually d.c. it's something else. frederick. and one of my first thoughts about this was to do the booth with close-ups of particular things, you know, but it didn't work out that way. but i would very much like to create vignettes that are in the big painting, so that it is just sort of expanding on them but how it would work -- quite how it would work i don't know. yes? >> thinking about the next project, the clara barton project for missing soldiers. mr. waddell: yes. at the moment, anyone on 7th
street who wants to see a really interesting d.c. museum, there there is the clara barton missing soldiers office. which they discovered in i think the 1980's on the top floor of a building owned by the g.s.a. when clara barton pulled out she just left it all there and they found it. you might remember seeing it in the paper. and now it is a beautiful little museum and very moving. because they recreated all the wall paper and everything and they've done amazing lighting as well so it's just like the gas lighting. it is very interesting. but they commissioned me to do a large mural for them about clara barton's life. and it is in the form of a kind of fairground banner of the 1860's. she was just such a -- she was just something else, clara barton. and i am over there working frequently during the week, so you can come in and talk to me. 7th and "e."
there is a starbucks on the corner. it is two back from the starbucks next to the hair dresser. yes? >> the naughtiest fireman story and could you also tell us whether you were able to resist in some discreet way placing some image related to it in the painting? mr. waddell: >> well, i certainly would have liked to have painted -- one of the ones i got -- the d.c. boys were, some d.c. firemen were swimming in the creek beneath the lower bridge of the rock creek. and the georgetown boys stole their clothes. and then threw stones at them to make them get out of the water, but the figures were too little to be in -- they were just too little to see. but they used to ring the fire bells to make people get out of church. that was a popular trick.
but the worst one, which i noticed is still popular in this area with volunteer firemen, is setting fire to things. they did quite a bit of that. and then they got money. if you got to the fire first the , the insurance company would pay whoever got there first. so there were a lot of fights on the way to fires. [laughter] mr. waddell: yes? >> -- display next month. when will we be able to see these paintings again? what happens to these after the display? mr. waddell: well, eventually they will be on permanent view, but mr. small is so attached to them he wants them back for a while. so jackie might be able to say something on that topic. jackie: they'll be on display for about a year, it looks like, and we are hoping to bring them back in for an exhibit potentially on things that were planned and never built, unbuilt
washington, things that were planned but never built. we are hoping to eventually hopefully on somewhat permanent display with -- letting students create the narrative and do their own research into the paintings. mr. waddell: well, thank you so much for coming. i really appreciate it. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] -- announcer: you are watching american history tv, only on c-span3. years ago on january 20, 1969, richard nixon took the oath of office to become the 37th president of the united states. next, a cbs news broadcast of the inauguration anchored by walter cronkite and roger mudd. the 90 minute recording includes the swearing in ceremony, inaugural address, a prayer by reverend billyr