National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Department of the Interior Building, Eighteenth and C Streets NW.
REpublic 1820, Branches 2101-04

Chairman Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant, 3d
Citizen Member J.C. Nichols
Citizen Member W.A. Delano
Citizen Member Henry V. Hubbard
Chief of Engineers of the United States Army Maj. Gen. Eugene Reybold
Engineer Commissioner of the District of Columbia Col. C.W. Kutz
Chief of the Forest Service Lyle F. Watts
Director of National Park Service Newton B. Drury
Chairman of the District of Columbia Committee of the United States Senate Theodore G. Bilbo
Chairman of the District of Columbia Committee of the House of Representatives Jennings Randolph
Chairman Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant, 3d
Executive Officer Newton B. Drury
Secretary and Legal Adviser T.S. Settle
Director of Planning John Nolen, Jr.
Land Purchasing Officer Norman C. Brown
Landscape Architect T.C. Jeffers
City Planner Max S. Wehrly

Creation and Authority.--The Commission, by the act of April 30, 1926 (44 Stat. 374; 40 U.S.C. 71), became the successor to the National Capital Park Commission which had been created previously


by the act of June 6, 1924 (43 Stat. 463; 40 U.S.C. 71). The Commission is also the successor to the Highway Commission of the District of Columbia.

Purpose.--The Commission was created to plan and acquire an adequate system of parks, parkways, and playgrounds, to preserve the forests and natural scenery in and about the National Capital, and to prepare a coordinated city and regional plan for the District of Columbia and environs.

Organization.--The Commission is composed of 10 persons--6 ex officio members and 4 appointed members. The ex officio members are: Chief of Engineers of the Army, Engineer Commissioner of the District of Columbia, Chief of the Forest Service, Director of National Park Service, Chairman of District of Columbia Committee of the United States Senate, and Chairman of District of Columbia Committee of the House of Representatives. In addition, four eminent citizens, well qualified and experienced in city planning, one of whom must be a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia, are appointed for a term of 6 years each by the President of the United States. The latter members serve without compensation.

The Director of the National Park Service is executive officer of the Commission. Under this officer, the Commission has a small skeleton organization of specialists. From time to time the Commission employs consulting specialists, under the authority of its basic act, to make studies in housing, traffic and transportation, and various other phases of city planning; it employs from time to time engineers to survey the areas which it proposes to purchase; and when necessary it borrows employees from and cooperates with various branches of the Federal and District of Columbia Governments.

Funds.--Appropriations for the staff and other operating expenses are include din the annual appropriation for the District of Columbia. Appropriations for land acquisition are made by the Federal Government which is reimbursed by the District of Columbia at the minimum rate of $300,000 a year.

Activities.--The functions of the Commission are:

  1. To prepare, develop, and maintain a comprehensive, consistent, and coordinated plan for the National Capital and its environs, including recommendations to the proper executive authorities as to traffic and transportation; plats and subdivisions; highways, parks and parkways; school and library sites; playgrounds; drainage, sewers, and water supply; housing, building, and zoning regulations; public and private buildings; bridges and waterfronts; commerce and industry; and other proper elements of city and regional planning.

  2. To administer, in conjunction with the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, laws concerning the permanent system of highways plan, providing for changes in the existing highways plan that may be initiated by the Commissioners and submitted to the Park and Planning Commission for approval. In this capacity it took over all the functions of the former Highway Commission, which it succeeded in 1926.

  3. To provide for the comprehensive, systematic, and continuous development of the park, parkway, and playground system of the National Capital, and especially--


    1. To preserve the flow of water in Rock Creek.

    2. To prevent the pollution of Rock Creek and the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

    3. To preserve forests and natural scenery in and about Washington.

  1. To acquire such lands as are necessary and desirable for the suitable development of the National Capital's park, parkway, and playground system, including acquisition, establishment, and development of the George Washington Memorial Parkway along both sides of the Potomac from Mount Vernon and Fort Washington to Great Falls, and additional lands for extension of the District park system into nearby Maryland and Virginia under such financial arrangements as agreed upon with the proper authorities of those States and as authorized by Congress.

To carry out the above general duties, Congress has passed from time to time more than a score of special acts detailing specific duties or functions to the Commission.

Committees Appointed by the Commission.--One of the purposes of the act setting up the Park and Planning Commission was to obtain the maximum amount of cooperation and correlation of effort between the departments, bureaus, and commissions of the Federal and District Governments. The Commission also is authorized to act in conjunction and cooperation with authorities of the States of Maryland and Virginia who may be designated for this purpose. To carry out this responsibility, the Commission has appointed a number of committees.

The principal committee, in existence since the formation of the Commission, is known as the Coordinating Committee of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. This committee meets every two weeks to coordinate the work of the several authorities with the plans of the Commission, and to study projects and make recommendations prior to their submission to the Commission. The committee is composed of representatives of the District of Columbia Government, the Treasury Department, the United States Engineers Office of the War Department, the office of the National Park Service, and the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Representatives of other agencies meet with the committee on special problems in which they are concerned.

The Commission has established other committees which function from time to time as the need arises. A committee on recreation system plan, representative of all the authorities concerned, formulated a plan subsequently adopted by the Commission in 1930. The Washington Regional Drainage and Sewerage Committee has accomplished important coordination on pollution problems originating in the District and adjoining jurisdiction. A special joint committee on stream pollution has been studying the Rock Creek drainage area. Other committees on the parking and traffic problem, regional highways, and recreation, have accomplished equally material results.


U.S. Grant, 3d


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