‘Endangered’: National Mall Tidal Basin added to list of at-risk historic places

A crumbling sea wall, frequent flooding and overcrowding have landed iconic stretch of Washington, D.C.’s National Mall on a new list of at-risk historic places.

The Tidal Basin, which is home to the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and also a prime viewing spot to see D.C.’s famed cherry blossoms, was added to the list of “most endangered historic places” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The group released its list Thursday.

The trust, which joined with the National Park Service earlier this year on a campaign to “save the Tidal Basin,” says as much as $500 million is needed to repair the sea wall and make other infrastructure improvements in the area.

The sea wall that surrounds the Tidal Basin was built late in the 1800s and is no match for the high tides that now swamp West Potomac Park. In addition, the popularity of the cherry blossoms in the spring lures thousands of sightseers each year, which puts a further strain on sidewalks and other infrastructure.

The trust’s list includes 10 other historic places “that face a range of challenges and threats, from climate change to inappropriate development to neglect and disuse,” the group said.

(See photos of all 11 “endangered” historic places below)

Over the years, the Tidal Basin's seawall has gradually been slipping into the mud, allowing water to lap over the sidewalk. (WTOP/John Domen)
National Mall Tidal Basin, D.C.  (WTOP/John Domen) (WTOP/John Domen)
FILE - In this March 27, 2013 file photo the so-called Superman building, center, stands among other buildings in downtown Providence, R.I. Preservationists plan a discussion on the status of Rhode Island's tallest building Thursday, May 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Industrial Trust Company Building in Providence, Rhode Island (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (AP/Steven Senne)
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2014, file photo, a guitar painted with the likeness of Elvis Presley stands outside RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tenn., where Presley recorded during his career. Nashville planning officials on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, placed a moratorium on new developments on Nashville's famous Music Row while seeking to come up with a plan to balance growth with the neighborhood's history and culture. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
Music Row, Nashville (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File) (AP)
The James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. (Courtesy Landmarks Illinois/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
The James R. Thompson Center in Chicago  (Courtesy Landmarks Illinois/National Trust for Historic Preservation) (Courtesy Landmarks Illinois/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Ancestral places of southeast Utah (Courtesy Josh Ewing/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Ancestral places of southeast Utah (Courtesy Josh Ewing/National Trust for Historic Preservation) (Courtesy Josh Ewing/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
The Excelsior Club (Courtesy Dan Morrill/Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
The Excelsior Club in Charlotte, North Carolina  (Courtesy Dan Morrill/Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission/National Trust for Historic Preservation) (Courtesy Dan Morrill/Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Hacienda Los Torres (Courtesy Para la Naturaleza/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Hacienda Los Torres in Lares, Puerto Rico (Courtesy Para la Naturaleza/National Trust for Historic Preservation) (Courtesy Para la Naturaleza/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Tenth Street Historic District (Courtesy The Inclusive Communities Project/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Tenth Street Historic District in Dallas (Courtesy The Inclusive Communities Project/National Trust for Historic Preservation) (Courtesy The Inclusive Communities Project/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Willert Park Courts (Courtesy Joe Cascio/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Willert Park Courts in Buffalo, New York (Courtesy Joe Cascio/National Trust for Historic Preservation) (Courtesy Joe Cascio/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital (Courtesy Alabama Historical Commission/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital in Mount Vernon, Alabama (Courtesy Alabama Historical Commission/National Trust for Historic Preservation) (Courtesy Alabama Historical Commission/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Bismarck-Mandan Bridge (Courtesy Mike Renner/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Bismarck-Mandan Bridge in Bismarck, North Dakota (Courtesy Mike Renner/National Trust for Historic Preservation) (Courtesy Mike Renner/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
(1/11)
Over the years, the Tidal Basin's seawall has gradually been slipping into the mud, allowing water to lap over the sidewalk. (WTOP/John Domen)
FILE - In this March 27, 2013 file photo the so-called Superman building, center, stands among other buildings in downtown Providence, R.I. Preservationists plan a discussion on the status of Rhode Island's tallest building Thursday, May 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2014, file photo, a guitar painted with the likeness of Elvis Presley stands outside RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tenn., where Presley recorded during his career. Nashville planning officials on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, placed a moratorium on new developments on Nashville's famous Music Row while seeking to come up with a plan to balance growth with the neighborhood's history and culture. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
The James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. (Courtesy Landmarks Illinois/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Ancestral places of southeast Utah (Courtesy Josh Ewing/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
The Excelsior Club (Courtesy Dan Morrill/Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Hacienda Los Torres (Courtesy Para la Naturaleza/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Tenth Street Historic District (Courtesy The Inclusive Communities Project/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Willert Park Courts (Courtesy Joe Cascio/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital (Courtesy Alabama Historical Commission/National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Bismarck-Mandan Bridge (Courtesy Mike Renner/National Trust for Historic Preservation)

They include the Nashville country music mecca Music Row, which the trust says is threatened by new development; ancestral places in southeast Utah, which the group says are at risk from oil and gas extraction; and the Hacienda Los Torres coffee plantation house in Puerto Rico, which suffered damaged during Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Over the 32 years the group has released its list, it has named more than 300 places.

Last year, two local attractions were listed as “endangered” by the group.

The trust put Mount Vernon in Virginia and Piscataway National Park in Accokeek, Maryland, on the list citing the proposed gas compressor station near the park which the group said “has the potential to negatively impact the historic view from Mount Vernon and the natural beauty of Piscataway National Park.” Last fall, Dominion Energy announced it was reconsidering the site of its facility.

In addition, the trust said the City Dock Area in Annapolis, Maryland was threatened by a proposal to rezone parts of the city’s historic colonial district, which it said could damage quality of life and put a dent in tourism.

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