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With its origins going back to 1791, President's Park is an important landmark in the nation and the capital's downtown area. Composing of the White House, White House Visitor Center, Lafayette Square and The Ellipse (President's Park South), it spans across 82 acres (33.18 hectares) of manicured land. Throughout the parkland you will find memorials, statues and structures that are an ode to the national history and its heroes. Managed by the National Park Service, it features two trails that lead you to various attractions within the park. The Northern Trail takes you to the White House North Lawn and visitor center, Department of the Treasury, Lafayette Park, Blair-Lee House (President's official guest house) and First Division Monument. The Southern Trial to The Ellipse, Haupt Fountains, National Christmas Tree and White House South Lawn. There are many activities for kids as well. These include Junior Ranger programs, interpretive walks and other special events.
Learn more about the fascinating history of the nation's capital at the Historical Society of Washington DC. The Historical Society hosts several temporary exhibits, such as Portraying Lincoln and International Holiday Traditions. Since the exhibits often change, you can find something new here each time you visit. You can also explore the Kiplinger Research Library and find the perfect book.
The eight-sided, 19th-century home of John Tayloe III, a wealthy contemporary of early US presidents, offers an interesting glimpse into both history and architecture. President Madison resided here after the White House was burned in the War of 1812. The Treaty of Ghent was signed in the Octagon's study at the war's end. Architectural exhibits are integrated into the fine house with its period furnishings. The building itself is a masterpiece, designed by William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol and other high points of Federal-era Washington.
Situated in front of the White House within President's Park, the Zero Milestone is based on Ancient Rome's Golden Milestone, and is the physical representation of the idea that all roads lead to Washington DC, the United States' capital. The initial idea was to record the distance to important places in the United States on the stone, but only certain locations within the DC area were ever engraved on the two-by-four block. The idea of the milestone was initially raised and supported by Dr. S.M. Johnson, who was a member of the Good Roads Movement, which called for paved roads across the United States. The Zero Milestone represents the starting point of the United States paved road system, which in turn can be seen as a representation of the unification of the United States.
The White House Visitor Center spans 16,000 square feet (1486 square meters) and contains dozens of artifacts. Although it's not located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it's as close as you can get to visiting the White House without obtaining a hard-to-get tour. Besides viewing artifacts, you can also take a virtual tour of the President's residence here. Admission is free, making it a great tourist destination for those on a budget.