Norton Fights for Public Access to St. Es' Vista Views, History

WASHINGTON -- Some of the most spectacular views of the nation's capital have never been seen by most, but House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton hopes to change that as the campus of St. Elizabeth's Hospital is converted to the new home for the Department of Homeland Security.

Norton -- whose subcommittee oversees Homeland Security's plan for its headquarters -- is trying to make sure the spectacular overlook on a bluff over the Anacostia and Potomac rivers called the Point will be open to the public.

It's a panoramic view that includes Catholic University and Catholic Shrine, the National Episcopal Cathedral, the Nationals' baseball stadium, and the Washington Monument. If it's open to the public, it'll be like a soccer riot on the Fourth of July.

During the next 7 years or so, the 175 acres of the old western campus of St. Elizabeths is going to be transformed into a $3.5 billion Homeland Security complex.

Long abandoned but historic buildings first constructed in the mid-1800s will be restored as part of the project, with 14,000 federal employees ultimately to work in the beautiful campus that used to be the hospital for the insane.

Homeland Security headquarters will be secure, Norton said, but it must share construction, retail and job opportunities with nearby neighborhoods longing for development.

She also wants the public to have access to an old Civil War cemetery with 300 headstones.

Over the weekend, the D.C. Preservation League offered a walking tour of the campus. Read about Prince of Petworth's experience here, and look at some beautiful photos.

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