Freedom Plaza

Changes to Freedom Plaza Could Reroute Traffic for More Green Space

NBC Universal, Inc.

For the last three years, urban planners have been working on a new look for D.C.'s Pennsylvania Avenue, a redesign that would attract bikes and people to three main areas between 15th Street NW and the federal courthouse. It is — you might say — a work in progress.

Freedom Plaza is a popular place for skateboarders who love the smooth granite and open space. It also has great views of the Capitol, but that’s about it. There are no benches and no shady trees, and in the summer, it gets hot. So the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has some ideas on a redesign.

"Each concept pushes some ideas for how we can reconfigure the space and incorporate elements to make it more people-friendly, support other uses," said Karin Schierhold with the NCPC. "So it hasn’t been determined yet what the final design might look like."

One idea would be to close off Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Wilson Building and reroute traffic around the plaza, creating a greener, more open space.

"We are trying to re-envision the avenue as a venue and as a street for people, and there's three concepts that look at different ways to achieve that," said Elizabeth Miller with the NCPS. "Different ways that we can look at circulation, different ways we can look at configuring the open space and program the street to achieve the vision."

Miller said the idea is to make Pennsylvania Avenue beautiful on a daily basis, a place where the best of art and entertainment can be showcased.

But skateboarders at the plaza Thursday said they like it the way it is.

"I don’t think they should do it," one said. "I mean, there is a lot of people who come here; it has a lot of history outside of skateboarding, and it's perfect the way it is."

Another said, "I got a bunch of friends that come down here and skate. This is kind of like their mecca; this is just the scene down here."

Another idea would be to lower the plaza down to street level, and add a performance space and green space, drastically reshaping this destination for skaters, but nothing yet is etched in stone.

You can see some of the proposed designs and weigh in on the commission's plan at

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