By Elliot Carter
You might have noticed these unmarked stone structures on Constitution Avenue. Until a reader pointed it out to me, I assumed that they were markers for an old bridge over the Washington City Canal. They are actually the gatehouses and gate posts that used to watch over the Capitol. They were designed in 1828 by Charles Bulfinch, and removed in 1874 following Frederick Law Olmsted's redesign of the Capitol Grounds. Reconstructed in their current location, the structures are supposed to flank the White House. The visual association with the far away White House is weak though, and they look out of place on the busy intersection.
Four of the other gateposts are at the National Arboretum, and two of the gatehouses are at Fort Totten Park.
Architecturally, the gatehouses mimic the style of the ground floor of the Capitol. They're a heck of a lot more elegant than their modern cousin, the now ubiquitous security kiosk.
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