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The Sacred Geometry of Washington, D.C.

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In 1791, a new city took shape on the Potomac. It was planned to bring the political center of the emerging nation down from New York and Philadelphia to an unspoiled place with no prior history, a place where the opening chapter might be written on America’s blank page. French-born Pierre Charles L’Enfant, was appointed by George Washington to be its planner and architect In 1791, a new city took shape on the Potomac. It was planned to bring the political center of the emerging nation down from New York and Philadelphia to an unspoiled place with no prior history, a place where the opening chapter might be written on America’s blank page. French-born Pierre Charles L’Enfant, was appointed by George Washington to be its planner and architect. L’Enfant wished to inscribe in his design the flourishing and triumphant principles of the Enlightenment. He also wanted to bring classical shape to his city: rational geometric patterns and Pythagorean golden sections, like those inscribed in the great cities of past civilizations. These patterns, he believed, held not only powerful symbolic significance but tapped into actual spiritual forces and cosmic energies as well. As it turned out, through the intercession of Thomas Jefferson and others, the city was built with major modifications to the original design. One of these 1793 modifications gave much more emphasis in the city’s axes to the position of the White House—only completed in 1800—than to the Capitol building at the center of L’Enfant’s design. Did moving the "zero meridian" west to the White House express a desire, perhaps, to give greater emphasis to executive power than to legislative? What happened to L’Enfant’s remarkable conception?  Why and how was it altered? Did Freemasonic ideas play any appreciable role in the original or amended design? What can we learn today from the intended design, in terms of the role of spiritual forces embedded in geometric patterns? NicholasR. Mann shares with readers the genius of the original design and the significance of the modifications to Washington as built.


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In 1791, a new city took shape on the Potomac. It was planned to bring the political center of the emerging nation down from New York and Philadelphia to an unspoiled place with no prior history, a place where the opening chapter might be written on America’s blank page. French-born Pierre Charles L’Enfant, was appointed by George Washington to be its planner and architect In 1791, a new city took shape on the Potomac. It was planned to bring the political center of the emerging nation down from New York and Philadelphia to an unspoiled place with no prior history, a place where the opening chapter might be written on America’s blank page. French-born Pierre Charles L’Enfant, was appointed by George Washington to be its planner and architect. L’Enfant wished to inscribe in his design the flourishing and triumphant principles of the Enlightenment. He also wanted to bring classical shape to his city: rational geometric patterns and Pythagorean golden sections, like those inscribed in the great cities of past civilizations. These patterns, he believed, held not only powerful symbolic significance but tapped into actual spiritual forces and cosmic energies as well. As it turned out, through the intercession of Thomas Jefferson and others, the city was built with major modifications to the original design. One of these 1793 modifications gave much more emphasis in the city’s axes to the position of the White House—only completed in 1800—than to the Capitol building at the center of L’Enfant’s design. Did moving the "zero meridian" west to the White House express a desire, perhaps, to give greater emphasis to executive power than to legislative? What happened to L’Enfant’s remarkable conception?  Why and how was it altered? Did Freemasonic ideas play any appreciable role in the original or amended design? What can we learn today from the intended design, in terms of the role of spiritual forces embedded in geometric patterns? NicholasR. Mann shares with readers the genius of the original design and the significance of the modifications to Washington as built.

30 review for The Sacred Geometry of Washington, D.C.

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Nicholas Mann has written an interpretation of symbolism behind Pierre Charles L'Enfant's design of Washington, D.C. The book is intriguing. Mann's argument is centered around some ancient concepts of geometry, and uses these concepts to suggest that with numerology and associated symbolism L'Enfant created a design for the city that emphasized the role of the people in the new democracy of the country and was centered on the Capitol. However, with subsequent generations and further development, Nicholas Mann has written an interpretation of symbolism behind Pierre Charles L'Enfant's design of Washington, D.C. The book is intriguing. Mann's argument is centered around some ancient concepts of geometry, and uses these concepts to suggest that with numerology and associated symbolism L'Enfant created a design for the city that emphasized the role of the people in the new democracy of the country and was centered on the Capitol. However, with subsequent generations and further development, Washington, D.C.'s layout has concentrated the federal buildings and turned the focus inward towards the Mall with its central focus on the Washington Monument instead of outward towards the rest of the city and the "people." All of this is to say that Mann makes a compelling argument for a symbolic layout for the city. The symbols themselves are a bit dubious and the evidence that L'Enfant actually consciously intended to use them is paltry. However, the idea of developing the North-South axis and East-West axis created by the Capitol building along North and South Capitol Streets and East Capitol Streets is one that creates a strong symbol of how the city should represent a reaching out to the people as opposed to an insular focus on itself and executive power. In addition, the measurements are a fascinating way to take a fresh look at the city in which I work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    According to the author there is a sacred geometry involved in all temples and religions. L'Enfant's original plan for the capitol city was based on this sacred geometry. The book is largely mathematical with some history and philosophy thrown in. L'Enfant was sacked and his plan altered to appease those holding the purse strings. The author notes there is no evidence of Masonic involvement in L'Enfant's design but there is in the design of the Washington monument. It is a rather dry essay.

  3. 5 out of 5

    E

    978-0-7607-9476-0

  4. 4 out of 5

    Morgaine

    A must read for all world citizens.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  6. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  7. 4 out of 5

    Thea

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shoshana

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Bittinger

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dusky Literati

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kenan Alloush

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jewels

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tom Henry

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julia Masters

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chad Novak

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ed Hertzog

  21. 4 out of 5

    Subhajit Das

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alice

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike Kriesel

  25. 5 out of 5

    David H.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cory Goswick

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Romano

  30. 4 out of 5

    Blossom 121486

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