The Devil and Monsieur L'Enfant

Currier and Ives Lithograph of City of Washington, DC, Looking North in 1892
Photo by SuperStock/SuperStock/Getty Images (cropped)

Watch out. Here comes the end of the world again. Viewers of the History Channel's Ancient Aliens learned that the crazy street map of Washington, D.C. with its roundabouts and angled avenues, is based on celestial navigations, ancient aliens, and Luciferian New World Order. City planner Pierre Charles L'Enfant would be shocked to hear about this.

Born August 2, 1754 in France, Monsieur L'Enfant is best known for designing the D.C. roadways of circles and spokes, a 1791 master plan that transformed a patch of swamp and farmland into the capital of the United States. Even today, much of Washington, D.C. with its wide boulevards and public squares follows L'Enfant's original concept. But was L'Enfant's design inspired by Freemasonry, aliens, and the occult, or maybe the orderly French Baroque styles of the day?

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of the National Park Service has given us the answer. In documenting the significance of L'Enfant's design, they say:

"The historic plan of Washington, District of Columbia — the nation's capital — designed by Pierre L'Enfant in 1791 as the site of the Federal City, represents the sole American example of a comprehensive baroque city plan with a coordinated system of radiating avenues, parks and vistas laid over an orthogonal system. Influenced by the designs of several European cities and eighteenth-century gardens such as France's Palace of Versailles, the plan of Washington, D.C, was symbolic and innovative for the new nation. Existing colonial towns surely influenced L'Enfant's scheme, just as the plan of Washington, in turn, influenced subsequent American city planning.... L'Enfant's plan was magnified and expanded during the early decades of the twentieth century with the reclamation of land for waterfront parks, parkways, and improved Mall, and new monuments and vistas. Two-hundred years since its design, the integrity of the plan of Washington is largely unimpaired — boasting a legally enforced height restriction, landscaped parks, wide avenues, and open space allowing intended vistas."—L'Enfant-McMillan Plan of Washington, D.C. (The Federal City), HABS No. DC-668, 1990-1993, pp. 1-2

The Legends and Stories

The real story of L'Enfant's design is one of professional urban design, architectural planning based on study and history. The juicy stories that were fabricated may have begun with prejudice. One of the original surveyors of the District of Columbia was Benjamin Banneker (1731 to 1806), a free African-American. Banneker and Andrew Ellicott (1754 to 1820) were enlisted by George Washington to stake out the boundaries for America's new capital, the Federal City. Because he knew a bit about astronomy, Banneker used celestial calculations to mark off the borderlines. A Black man using the stars and the moon, along with the Freemasonry of some of the Founding Fathers, and stories of the occult and a new government based on Satanism was certain to flourish.

"The street design in Washington, D.C., has been laid out in such a manner that certain Luciferic symbols are depicted by the streets, cul-de-sacs and rotaries," claims one conspiracy theorist writing in "The Revelation." 404 404 L'Enfant "hid certain occultic magical symbols in the layout" of the new capital, and together "they become one large Luciferic, or occultic, symbol."

If this story of urban design intrigues you, the theories about extraterrestrials and advanced civilizations visiting Earth in ancient times may be of further interest. Were the avenues of Washington, D.C. really ancient landing strips for alien spaceships? Check out the full series from the History Channel to find out what other mayhem the ancient aliens were up to (Ancient Aliens DVD Box set, The Complete Seasons 1–6).

The McMillan Commission

L'Enfant had come to America to fight in the Revolutionary War, serving with the Corps of Engineers of the Continental Army. His passion for America's future was well-understood by the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, but his stormy reluctance to compromise did not sit well with the City Commissioners. L'Enfant's plan lived on, but he was uninvolved with its development and died penniless on June 14, 1825. It wasn't until 1900 when Senator James McMillan chaired a commission that instituted the vision of Pierre L'Enfant. To realize the plans of L'Enfant, the McMillan Commission enlisted the architects Daniel Burnham and Charles F. McKim, the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and the sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens, all famous figures in American design at the turn of the 20th century.

Pierre Charles L'Enfant is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, in a grave overlooking the city he designed but never realized.


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Craven, Jackie. "The Devil and Monsieur L'Enfant." ThoughtCo, Oct. 9, 2021, Craven, Jackie. (2021, October 9). The Devil and Monsieur L'Enfant. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "The Devil and Monsieur L'Enfant." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).