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The Urban Geology of the National Mall

In-Person Program

All-Day Tour

Thursday, June 8, 2023 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1ND004
Tour meets outside the National Museum of
American History (Constitution Ave side)
near the fountains
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Aerial view of the National Mall

Washington, D.C.’s National Mall provides a world-class showcase for a diverse collection of American architectural styles, landscape design and use—and building stones. Join Kenneth Rasmussen, a professor of geology at Northern Virginia Community College, on a 3-mile walking tour that views structures on the Mall built from igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock formed during roughly 3.5 billion years of Earth’s history and erected during 220 years of American history.

Rasmussen discusses the rocks’ origin, age, and significance, as well as the engineering, aesthetic, and political reasons for their selection and placement. He sets the Mall’s evolution in geological and architectural context and traces roughly 230 years of design in buildings and monuments created from 1791 to the present, including recent flood-mitigation efforts in view of projected sea-level rise.

Enjoy a picnic box lunch on the Mall around 1 p.m., weather permitting.

Know Before You Go

  • Tour participants meet at the Constitution Avenue (north) side of the National Museum of American History, near the fountains.
  • The tour includes significant standing and walking.
  • Lunch is included.

General Information

  • Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 7, 2023.
  • Smithsonian is a mask-friendly environment. Masks are strongly recommended to be worn on buses at all times and may also be required at various indoor sites.
  • For additional tour information:

Inside Science