What to See in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C.

Lafayette Park in Washington, DC
Lafayette Park in Washington, DC.

Rachel Cooper

Lafayette Park, also known as Presidents Park or Lafayette Square, is a seven-acre public park located across from the White House in Washington, D.C. The green space provides an arena for public protests, ranger programs, and special events.

When the park, as Lafayette Square, was first established it was to be used to enhance the grounds of the White House. Through the years it is said it has been used as a race track, a graveyard, a zoo, and a camp for soldiers during the War of 1812. 

The park, bounded by Jackson Place on the west, Madison Place on the east, and Pennsylvania Avenue, is now a popular site for those who want to take photographs of the White House. The park is home to five statues, four honoring foreign Revolutionary War heroes and one of President Andrew Jackson. 

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Rochambeau Statue

General Rochambeau Statue
Rachel Cooper

The Rochambeau statue, erected in 1902 at the southwest corner of Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., is a replica of an original sculpture created by French sculptor Fernand Hamar. It was unveiled in Vendôme, France before being moved to the United States.

The statue of the American Revolutionary War hero, General Comte de Rochambeau, was intended to help solidify relations between the United States and France following the Spanish-American War. Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau (1725–1807), was the commander of the French army that fought alongside George Washington and the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

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Lafayette Statue

Lafayette Statue
Rachel Cooper

The seven-acre park across from the White House was named in honor of the Marquis De Lafayette, the French General who befriended George Washington and fought in the Revolutionary War. The statue of Lafayette is located in the southeast corner of Lafayette Park.

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Andrew Jackson Statue

President Andrew Jackson Statue -- Lafayette Park NW Washington (DC)
Ron Cogswell/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

In the center of Lafayette Park is an equestrian statue of General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. Sculpted in 1853 by Clark Mill, it was the first statue of a person on horseback ever cast in the United States and the first equestrian statue in the world to be balanced just on the horse's hind legs.

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Kosciusko Statue

General Taduesz Kosciuszko Statue
Ted/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The statue of Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko (also known as Thaddeus Kosciusko) is located in the northeast corner of Lafayette Park. Kosciusko was a Polish Colonel who fought in the American Revolutionary War in the Continental Army.

He was military-educated and an accomplished engineer who masterminded an important British defeat at Saratoga and was in charge of the design and construction of military fortifications at West Point.

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Von Steuben Statue

Von Steuben Statue
Rachel Cooper

The Von Steuben Statue, located in the northwest corner of Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., is in honor of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a German army officer who served as Inspector General and Major General of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

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Fountains at Lafayette Park

Mallard ducks at the fountain in Lafayette Park
Elvert Barnes/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Lafayette Park is also home to an array of trickling fountains and shady tree groves. The large round fountain, a centerpiece, is especially welcome in the hot, humid summers. Sitting by a fountain on one of the park benches is a relaxing way to rest, take in the view, and have a picnic. 

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Sights Around Lafayette Park

President's Park (The White House)
National Park Service Digital Image Archives/Wikimedia Commons

The buildings surrounding Lafayette Park include the White House, the Old Executive Office Building, the Department of the Treasury, Decatur House, Renwick Gallery, the White House Historical Association, the Hay-Adams Hotel and the Department of Veterans Affairs.