- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The opening-ceremony ribbons on the new Mall map had barely fluttered to the ground Tuesday before the Macdonald family, of Ukiah, Calif., put it to good use.

“The reason the map was helpful was that it showed us where the Metro stops were,” said Paul Macdonald, standing beside the Smithsonian Metro stop with his three children.

Instead of hitting the National Archives for 14-year-old Christine, then doubling back to the Natural History Museum for John, 10, the Macdonalds learned with a single glance at the green-and-gray map that switching their sightseeing order would save walking time and put them close to the Archives Metro station.

The map is the first of its kind, giving viewers a landscape view of the Mall, meaning it “will always be oriented to the direction you’re facing,” said Jennifer Talken-Spaulding, a National Park Service cultural resources manager.

Caroline Cunningham, president of the nonprofit Trust for the National Mall, said the map also is helpful because it directs visitors to points of interest beyond the Mall and museums, including Union Station.

Half of the 17-by-8-foot double-sided map offers a bird’s-eye view of the Mall and surrounding area and the other half lists places and activities.

About 350 smaller maps similar in concept are scheduled to replace existing ones over the next three months.

“We heard from visitors that we needed to enhance public access and circulation,” said Stephen Lorenzetti deputy superintedent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks. “This ‘wayfinding program’ is user-friendly and integrated with neighboring sponsors and programs.”

The project cost $2.2 million, split evenly between federal and private dollars.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District’s non-voting House member, said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that the program “an absolutely magnificent lifesaving tool for the Mall. “