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Grand Avenues: The Story of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C.

The definitive story of how Washington, D.C., one of the world’s great capital cities, came into existence.

336pp. Paperback. Vintage Books. 

In 1791, shortly after the United States won its independence, George Washington personally asked Pierre Charles L’Enfant—a young French artisan turned American revolutionary soldier who gained such friends and as Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe among the Founding Fathers—to design the new nation’s capital. L’Enfant approached this task with vigor and passion; however, his imperious and unyielding nature made him many powerful enemies, including, eventually, Thomas Jefferson. After eleven months, Washington reluctantly dismissed L’Enfant from the project. The plan for the city was then published under another name, and L’Enfant died long before was finally, and rightfully, attributed to him.

Filled with incredible characters and passionate human drama, this deft narrative account of a little-explored story in American history is a tribute to the genius of Pierre Charles L’Enfant and the enduring city that is his legacy.

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Also available in eBook formats.