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Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C.


Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C. Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Grand Avenues tells the riveting story of Pierre Charles LEnfant and the creation of Washington D.C.--from the seeds of his inspiration to the fulfillment of his extraordinary vision.

LEnfants story is one of consuming passion, high emotion, artistic genius, and human frailty. As a boy he studied drawing at the most prestigious art institute in the world. As a young man he left his home in Paris to volunteer in the army of the American colonies, where he served under George Washington. There he would also meet many of the people who would have a profound impact on his life, including Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe. And it was Washington himself who, in 1791, entrusted LEnfant with the planning of the nations capital--and reluctantly allowed him to be dismissed from the project eleven months later. The plan for the city was published under another name, and for the remainder of his life LEnfant fought for recognition of his achievement. But he would not live to see that day, and a century would pass before LEnfant would be given credit for his brilliant design.

Scott W. Berg recounts this tale, richly evocative of time and place, with the narrative verve of a novel and with a cast of characters that ranges from Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers to the surveyor who took credit for LEnfants plans, the assistant who spent a week in jail for his loyalty to LEnfant, and the men who finally restored LEnfants reputation at the beginning of the twentienth century.

Here is a fascinating, little-explored episode in American history: the story of a visionary artist and of the founding of the magnificent city that is his enduring legacy.


"On the rainy evening in March of 1791 when Maj. Pierre Charles L'Enfant arrived in the lively little port of Georgetown, few people besides the 36-year-old major himself had an inkling of the visionary enterprise he was about to undertake.

L'Enfant's instructions were limited. He was to make drawings of the territory selected two months earlier by President George Washington as a site... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Book News Annotation:

Berg (nonfiction writing and literature, George Mason U.) recounts the story of Pierre Charles L'Enfant (1755-1825), a Frenchman who left Paris to volunteer in the army of the American colonies, serving under George Washington, and was later chosen by Washington to plan the nation's capital. Illustrated with b&w maps and reproductions. Academic but accessible to the general reader. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Scott W. Berg holds a B.A. in architecture from the University of Minnesota, an M.A. from Miami University, and an M.F.A. in creative writing from George Mason University, where he now teaches nonfiction writing and literature. He publishes frequently in The Washington Post and lives in Washington, D.C. Visit his Web sites at www.scottwberg.com and www.grandavenues.com.

Product Details

The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C.
Berg, Scott W
Berg, Scott W.
History - General
U.S. Architecture - General
History : General
City planning
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.54x6.36x1.28 in. 1.45 lbs.

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Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Architects
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Sale Books

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