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Obama inauguration spotlights the decaying National Mall

January 16, 2009 |  5:00 am

National Mall The National Mall in Washington, D.C., will be filled Tuesday with a few million hardy souls eager to watch the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Barack Obama. To help visitors navigate their way around the monuments, museums, food services and restrooms along the two-mile Mall, a detailed map has just been made available. (You can find it here, over on the right side of the home page.) It's the work of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall -- which, as you might be able to tell from the name, is a citizens' group trying to reverse the steady erosion that sadly plagues the once-grand place.

In addition to the map, the Coalition has come up with a very savvy plan for fixing the gargantuan problem. Called the Third Century Initiative, it's something the Obama administration would do well to take a look at. I'll have a story Sunday about the plan -- about why it's needed, the way it can fit infrastructure repair in the upcoming economic recovery and how it might symbolize the new administration's hoped-for legacy.

-- Christopher Knight

Photo: Along the National Mall, outside the Lincoln Memorial. Credit: Tyrone Turner / For The Times