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Hey tourists, here's the skinny on Washington's monuments

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Newscom

(Read caption) While too far from the Mall for many tourists, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial remains a top Washington monument to put on your list.

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Does the White House need a sign in front of it that says “White House”? Would a “Washington Monument” billboard help tourists identify that tall stone pencil? Are visitors to D.C. so confused that they can’t find iconic memorials even if they’re standing in front of them?

Yes. More on that in a second.

First, the news: A federal arts panel in February voted down a National Park Service proposal to add small stone labels to Washington’s major memorials. The labels were ugly, would clutter the National Mall, and were unnecessary, said the US Commission of Fine Arts. The Park Service pushed for the signs because its research shows that many people from out of town don’t know what they’re looking at.

Decoder sides with the Park Service on this one. We’ve lost count of how many times someone on the street has asked us, “Where is the White House?” Since our office is a block from Pennsylvania Avenue, most of the time we just point.

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