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List Editor: Wendy Plotkin <firstname.lastname@example.org> Editor's Subject: WWW: "The Mall" and "Swamp" Beginnings of D.C. Author's Subject: WWW: "The Mall" and "Swamp" Beginnings of D.C. Date Written: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 08:51:54 -0500 Date Posted: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 08:51:54 -0500 Posted by Bob Arnebeck <Swamp1800@aol.com> While Clay McShane is to be congratulated for his list of web sites about urban history, I hate to see urban mythology creep into it. In describing a site on the history of the Mall in Washington, DC ["The Mall," at http://xroads.virginia.edu/%7ECAP/MALL/chron.html], McShane writes: "Well-illustrated history of the Mall in Washington, D.C. from its days as a swamp to the present including discarded plans." For the past ten years a number of historians of Washington, DC, have been trying to put to rest the idea that the city was built on a swamp. The Mall in particular was not a swamp, though it did have a river with a tidal flow next to it (where today's Constitution Avenue runs). As I read the web site in question, it does not suggest that the area was originally a swamp. The City of Washington, like every other US city founded in the 17th and 18th centuries along tidewater, did have low ground. But the knee jerk association of Washington with a swamp, on a list on urban history, does a disservice, unless we all want to join forces and begin talking about the New York swamp, and the Philadelphia swamp, and the Baltimore swamp, etc. It bears remembering that to many Europeans in the 18th century all of America was a swamp. Bob Arnebeck Independent scholar Wellesley Island, NY Matthew Gilmore H-DC list co-editor, web editor email@example.com http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~dclist/ [list website] http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/lists/subscribe.cgi?list=H-DC [subscribe to H-DC] Remember to check http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lm&list=h-dc for past list messages.