National Mall gets 500 directional signs
New maps and directional signs are being added to the National Mall to help visitors find Washington's monuments and museums.
The National Park Service and the nonprofit Trust for the National Mall are unveiling the first new signs Tuesday. It is the first installment of a $2.2 million effort to replace outdated signage.
Tourists exiting the Smithsonian Metro Station often have a hard time orienting themselves. “It's just difficult to find our way around and we're not stupid people,” said Jay Tierney, who’s visiting D.C.
Park Service spokesman Bill Line says research from the National Mall plan shows first-time visitors are often disoriented. Nearly 500 new signs will be added to should people find their way.
“It's been a potpourri of signs, they're out of date with old information. With the new system, we have unified information through the park,” said Stephen Lorenzetti, deputy superintendent for the National Mall and memorial parks for the National Park Service.
The $2.2 million effort was funded with federal dollars and private donations. “There's some signs that just don't even have the Korean War Memorial or FDR Memorial, so it was time,” said Caroline Cunningham of the Trust for the National Mall.
The new maps also take into account the direction the reader is looking. Regardless of which side of the sign you're standing on, the landmarks on the map reflect what you see.
“It will free up the rangers to do the job they normally do, which is to interpret the sites for the visitors,” said the park service’s Lorenzetti.
Park officials are also developing a free mobile application for visitors, which they hope to launch before the Fourth of July. With the app, users could point their phone at a building and would receive information about it, Lorenzetti said. Visitors could also plan tours by pointing at the sights they want to see on a map. The app would then inform users how long it takes to get there.
The Park Service backed off earlier plans that called for small stone labels at major sites. Those signs were debated for more than a year but were voted down by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. The panel said famous monuments don't need labels.
About 25 million people visit the National Mall every year.
With reporting from the Associated Press and NewsChannel8's Mike Conneen.
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